• World Design Forum (#WDF2012)

    by  • October 20, 2012 • Conferences • 0 Comments

    World Design Forum 2012

    (click to see full set)

    I’ve just spent an extremely enjoyable 36 hours or so in The Netherlands at the World Design Forum. It was held in Eindhoven just before the launch party for Dutch Design Week, to which I was also very kindly invited by John Thackara and Jill Lauret.

    Accompanying me on the trip was Tim Riches, CEO of DigitalMe. We spoke on Open Badges: I did the macro overview stuff and he drilled down into the details of the projects for which he’s using badges, such as S2R Medals. There were plenty of people afterwards who wanted to think through how they could be used in their particular context – from Design students to government agencies wanting to promote certain behaviours.

    It was an extremely well-organised event held in possibly the most inspiring and best-equipped venue in which I’ve ever had the privilege to present. As you’ll be able to see from the photograph above, WDF2012 was located in an old factory building with the ‘room’ itself was bounded by long white strings. These allowed you to get in and out at any point of the perimeter, but there was enough material on the ‘walls’ to project images, video, etc. from the multitude of projectors facing out from the centre of the room. Add some atmospheric lighting, spot-on audio/visual work, and you’ve got the recipe for an epic venue.

    Thankfully, most of the speakers were engaging, informative and entertaining. There was everything from crowdsourcing a morning rush hour problem relating to the raising and lowering of a bridge in Rotterdam to helping victims of torture and abuse tell their stories anonymously on video. Afterwards we went to what I wan to call a restaurant, but was nothing like I’ve seen before. It was like being round at someone’s house for a party: there were long tables, and a kind of ‘kitchen’ area, and food served out of drawers. You’ll be able to look at the photos of this when I upload them – it was extremely conducive to informal dining and conversation.

    The launch party for Dutch Design week was unintentionally hilarious. It was an extremely hip event held in the same space as the World Design Forum had been a few hours earlier. Just like theatre, however, set designers had changed the feel of the place. It was a multimedia extravaganza with us non-Dutch speakers given headsets for live translation. Unfortunately, random phrases like “it was very sticky, you have to work it hard” led Tim and I to cry with laughter. The audience around us looked at us like we were a little strange.

    Finally, the hotel we were put up in comes highly recommended: the Best Western Art Hotel. As I usually do, I’d looked on Trip Advisor and saw that one frequent guest recommended asking to be placed in the ‘old factory’ part of the hotel. If I understand correctly, it used to be the Philips lighting factory and it’s got a new, additional bit. It was good advice, as the room I had was magnificent – huge, with a wonderful interplay between its industrial past and the thoughtful, up-to-date, contemporary finish.

    In fact, the only thing that didn’t go so well on this trip was a problem of my own making. In my haste when originally booking my flights from Newcastle to Amsterdam (train to Eindhoven) I managed to book the return leg for November 20th instead of October 20th. By the time I realised my mistake the only way I could get there was to fly via London the way there and back. So today, Saturday, instead of taking my son to football and swimming and enjoying the afternoon with my family I’m hanging around airports.

    And my flight’s delayed.

    Oh well, at least I’ll catch up on my email and get this posted. ;-)


    Open Educational Thinkerer. Consultant focusing on #digilit & #openbadges. Previously: @mozilla / @jisc / school senior leader / #historyteacher.

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