Last Tuesday on the 12th, I attended the 16th installment of Design Driven NYC. Yet again, it was a great event with great speakers and a great crowd. Much appreciation to FirstMark Capital for hosting it and Oscar for providing the venue. Last month’s event, Design Driven #15, was informative and taught me the challenges behind the design process. In contrast, this month was about using design as an empowering tool and providing users with truly meaningful experiences that goes beyond themselves.

1. Surviving and Thriving as a Solo Designer
By Jillian Bromley, Lead Product Designer for Boxed
First of all, I was sitting to her left so I didn’t even notice that badass hair. I’ve been in situations where I was the only person who did what I did so I empathized very much with her. Being a solo anything is a great opportunity to expand your skill set but, as she said, it’s hard! She shared her challenges but empowered us with stories on overcoming them. The most encouraging part of her talk was how she framed the challenges in a way that made the audience believe it was doable. It certainly isn’t be easy, but definitely doable.

2. Sophisticated Software with Simple UI
By Andrew Ofstad, Co-Founder and Head of Product for Airtable
This presentation was about redesigning the way we organize information. As a compulsive organizer, I’m definitely a sucker for an easy-to-use spreadsheet. Most designs fall in two categories: simple function with simple UI and sophisticated function with complex UI. However, Andrew’s tool took something with a sophisticated function and created a simple user interface. He lays out all the challenges associated with such an endeavor. He talks about how he worked on Google Maps and the evolution of taking sophisticated features and laying them out in a simple, easy to use interface. It was fascinating to listen to his presentation and I definitely walked away with great nuggets of wisdom.

3. Democracy is a Design Problem
By Dana Chisnell, Co-Founder for Center for Civic Design
“Design affects world peace.” This was the most powertul message of her presentation. Voting is, as she says, the most important interaction that we have with our government. If that platform to interact with our government is designed poorly, it can affect the happiness of the nation. She gave examples of design flaws that caused trouble and emphasized the importance of user testing. This presentation was so profound and I walked away with the conviction that I’ll become the kind of designer who will create tools for world peace.

4. Designing How We Eat
By Greg Hathaway, Creative Director for Maple
Any presentation related to food and design is always a plus! I was drawn to this presentation on the title, “Designing How We Eat,” because ultimately, that’s what I want to do too. My approach is a bit different because I have a different vision about where I want to take the food industry. However, I learned about the various aspects of the design process that Greg experienced with his team. Food is relevant to every single person’s life and designing the way we eat should always be a priority.

As always, the networking portion was great as well. The speakers were easy to approach and they were open about answering my questions. Since the venue was more intimate, I felt like people were more approachable. Either that or I’m getting better at this whole networking thing. I’ve never been enthusiastic about networking but I generally like talking to people and always wonder what their life story is. If you have any networking pointers, please share them with me.

The next installment, Design Driven #17, will be on Tuesday, May 10th from 5:45pm to 9:00pm. It will be held at WeWork Chelsea at 115 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011. If you’re thinking of attending, follow this link to register. I’ll see you there!

Cheers,

Riri