The best of the 2015 Better World by Design conference

The Better World by Design conference took Brown and RISD’s campuses by storm last weekend, bringing 700 attendees and volunteers together to hear from 50 incredible presenters. BlogDH had the honor of covering the three-day event from start to finish, and we live tweeted and intagrammed at you to share in the fun. Now that we’ve recovered from speaking in buzzwords like “design for social innovation” and “disruptive design,” we present to you a round-up of some of our favorite keynotes and workshops at the conference.

The conference opened on Friday with a presentation given by Annie Wu, a RISD alum and employee of Greater Good Studio in Chicago. Wu’s presentation centered on the principle of applying human-centered design to the often neglected, “unexotic underclass,” or those who lie outside the realm of the privileged upper-class that many startups tend to target. Drawing on successes and failures in her own work at Greater Good Studio, Wu’s message encapsulated the conference’s theme of access and perfectly set the tone for the events to come.

Later that day, RISD graduate Elio Icaza (’15) led a workshop on a project he’s been working on called Clear Canvas. The products of Clear Canvas are designed to help students collaborate in art and science classes. The workshop involved a clear white board, with a participant seated on other side. The participants would have to work together to draw an object, an idea or an emotion without talking. The workshop stressed mindful collaboration. By being able to see the person on the other side, the participants learned to respond to each other. This workshop was a lot of fun.

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Gavin Atkinson (Brown ’13, RISD ’15) and Lukas Winklerprins (Brown ’15.5) ran a workshop titled “Speaking in Brick – Lego as a Creative Tool”, where participants used legos to explain a community they were a part of and a mental state. The workshop was inspiring, as it allowed participants to formulate and express their ideas despite different points of view.

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What to expect at this year’s Better World by Design conference

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Tomorrow, the famed Better World by Design conference returns to College Hill for its eighth installment. The theme for this year’s lecture-workshop-panel series, which will take place both up and down the Hill over the course of this weekend — is “access.” According to its website, the conference will strive to “craft a society that is inclusive” by “focus[ing] on collaboration and new mediums of translating ideas.”

So what should you expect this weekend? For one, there’s going to be a lot going on — just check out this schedule. With fourteen different events on Friday alone and a slate of over 50 presenters, this year’s Better World by Design promises to be jam-packed.

The event kicks off today at noon in Salomon, with opening remarks from Annie Wu of Greater Good Studio. Other speakers not to be missed include Alexis Loyd, Creative Director of New York Times Research & Design Lab, and Jason Severs, Executive Creative Director at frog design.

The event exists in blocks that range from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Be sure to check out the schedule to find which presentations spark your interest, as many run at the same time.

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