Back from #SPAN15

Back from #SPAN15

- 5 mins

Please note that this blog-post was originally posted on 2015-11-20 15:18:32 on my previous blog.


SPAN design conference is an initiative by the Google Design team with the goal of bringing together the community and starting a conversation around design and technology. It started out as a conference called FORM, the previous year, in San Fransisco. They built upon that experience and re-branded the conference to different locations. This year, one was taking place in New York, while the other one in London.

Opening Keynote: Luna Maurer, Moniker

Luna’s opening presentation focused on the creative process ‘Conditional Design’, which they have implemented at over at their firm, Moniker. The book that captures this process is currently sold out, but you can keep on eye on this website for the latest updates on availability. Check out some of their works on this link. I personally enjoyed the Do not touch campaign - which is an interactive and ever-changing music video using the power of crowdsourcing - and Your line or mine, a crowdsourced animation installation.

Keynote: Justin McGuirk, Design Museum (London)

Justing gave a talk about privacy, in relation to (product) design. To make it a bit more interesting, he use curtains as an analogy to privacy in his talk - yes, you’ve read that right!

Let me re-assure you: it went down well. One interesting thought from the presentation was that sometimes we perceive something to be public, when it is actually private. Or we, as humans, want to be perceived open, but we are actually hiding behind closed curtains. Left me thinking for sure…

Workshop #1: Digital Making For Kids

This was the event that I was looking for.

The workshop was co-presented by Shiva Jaini, UX lead @ YouTube Kids / Google, who presented their 9 learning points that they endevoured during the development of the YT Kids app. The other co-presenter was Bethany Koby from Technology Will Save Us, who presented their mantra behind the company that introduces electronics and tinkering to kids, helping them to achieve digital literacy at a young age.

We had a hands-on session with one of their products, a D-I-Y kit. We had to make a tutorial video that tells the kids how to kickstart their experience with the kit. We made two Christmas trees using electric dough and made it to light up in the spirit of Christmas.

I was a bit surprised when the photographer approached us to tell the group I was sitting with, how she loved that we were smiling all along the presentation. I felt like a kid during the presentation — which suggests to me that it did achieve its goal.

Picture taken during the Digital Making for Kids workshop

Workshop #2: Designing For New Products

The panel consisting of five professionals from all over the world discussing different topics on product design and the process behind it.

Picture taken during the Designing for new Products panel

Workshop #3: Colophon and YES Studio

Anthony and Edd from Colophon foundry explained how they have gotten into the world of typography and introduced us to one of their portfolio project where they created a font for Castledown Primary School in the UK. They named their font Castledown after… guess what :). They explored the challenges behind creating a cursive font that could potentially be used to teach children how to write. Read more about the case study here and about their other projects here.

The guys from YES Studio, Simon and James, introduced us to their portfolio project where Warp Records commisioned them to create an identity and visual material for the record label’s 20th anniversary. They did some sick photography using a real life (and 3D printed!) Möbius strip (yes, - I just learned about this word too). Read more about their amazing work here. And don’t forget to check out the pictures too!

Closing Keynote: Ken Wong, Ustwo

Last, but not least, Ken Wong, Lead Designer at Ustwo (they created Monument Valley and many other great stuff - check them out here) introduced us to their latest VR experience that they have been working on for the past year and so in collaboration with Samsung and their latest consumer VR set, on a game called Lands’ End.

After that, we discussed the issues and milestones in VR tech, and he told us about their observations during the development phase of the game.

This was one of the most inspiring discussions of the day and definitely a great way to end the conference.


Please note that there were three other workshops that were as amazing as the others, but unfortunately I had to choose which one to attend, therefore I missed a few. Check out the full schedule for #SPAN15 London here and a speakers list here.

All the attendees received a goodie bag filled with love by the Google Design team, including a book about the conference, containing all the talks and discussions that we had during the London and New York events. They put a lot of effort into designing the book, and even wrote about it over here.

Lastly, I would like to thank the organisers for inviting me to attend this private event, and to all the great folks whom I met over the week(end) in London!

Antal János M.

Antal János M.

Software engineer @Skyscanner | Previously @LEGO_Group

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