The Official Xlab 2017 Ex Sum

The Official Xlab 2017 Ex-Sum

If you didn't make it to Xlab 2017 last week, you really missed something special. I heard from many attendees that they considered this year's Xlab the best, EVER. Wow!

Before the event even kicked off, attendance was up 20 percent over last year and I am confident that this was due to our compelling line-up of presenters.

Part of this growth is due to shifting the central focus of the event from new technologies to how firms are designing new experiences and changing their practices to take advantage of the creative opportunities new technologies offer.

What was especially revealing for me was the realization that we could not have hosted this content five years ago! The project examples and practice insights were just not this advanced then; what we did have were pioneering practitioners experimenting with new technologies.

We heard from leaders like Patrick Gallagher, FSEGD (Gallagher & Associates), Jonathan Alger (C&G Partners) and Tim Fendley (Applied Wayfinding and Living Map). They described how, in their various practices, their teams have been working with new technologies for five to ten years already—and it took a lot to come to grips with the associated competencies, skills and ways of working before their teams could successfully integrate the technologies into their practices.

The concept of the "Smart City" has been elusive until recently. This grouping of technologies is gradually coming out of the "valley of despair" and is working its way up the "path of enlightenment" on the Gartner Hype Curve.(Don't you love those terms?) This was the topic of discussion between Sandra Baer from Civiq, Tim Fendley of Living Map and Adrian Cotterill of the DailyDOOH in the opening session. Of course, for Smart City initiatives there is still a long way to go, but we are already starting to see the manifestation of solutions to help citizens better navigate and enjoy city life more.

The practice presentations from Jonathan Alger and Patrick Gallagher were particularly powerful. Jonathan previewed the new Museum of the Bible exhibition that C&G Partners has been working on alongside many other firms. The experience features many seamlessly integrated digital and signage elements. I, for one,  am really excited to experience it. Patrick Gallagher’s firm, Gallagher & Associates, has been undergoing massive changes as they've responded to the current, vastly different digital needs of their clients, adding new competencies and skills such as digital interface design to their offerings.

We also heard from Carlo Bailey of WeWork, Inessah Selditz from the LAB at Rockwell Group, Matthew McNerney of Potion and Alexandre Simonescu from Float4.

The day was rounded out by a fantastic presentation by Valentin Spiess from iart ag, a Swiss firm whose work "Kunstmuseum Basel Light Frieze" won the 2017 SEGD Global Design Awards Best of Show award. Valentin demonstrated the iart ag process using three of the firm’s projects. He showed us how to integrate digital communication into the environment in a way that rivals the elegance of any static signage element we've seen. (No tired rectangular LCD screens here!) This sophisticated synthesis of message and environment is seen by many as the pinnacle of experiential graphic design excellence. It was a fantastic way to finish an engaging and insightful day.

On Friday, SEGD's Xlab tours centered on visiting many of the speakers' studios. Participants had the opportunity to visit C&G Partners, Gallagher & Associates, Intersection, LAB at Rockwell Group, Potion and Tessellate at New Inc. The intimate nature of the visits allowed for participants to gain insights into the firms' practices and processes for design innovation, as well as share dialogue with leadership regarding their work, thoughts on industry trends and issues facing designers in the experiential graphic design community. 

In summation, Xlab connected our community through engaging, relevant and insightful discourse. In other words: It was a great success. But don’t take my word for it—fact-check me! Go to twitter.com/segdor search #SEGDXlabto see what others who attended had to say.

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