November 10, 2017

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Design Forward: Event Recap

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At the end of October, I attended a local conference, Design Forward, at Liberty Station in Point Loma, CA. At this conference, I heard from a wide array of brilliant designers in all types of disciplines. From Phil Gilbert the General Manager of Design at IBM to Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo and many other professionals ranging from smaller to larger organizations. The event covered an assortment of topics from human-centric design to design thinking inside organizations and the positive impact design has on businesses in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace.


So for starters, what is this human-centered design approach all about?


Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem-solving and the backbone of our work at It’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor-made to suit the needs of clients.


Human-centered design (HCD) has the power and potential to drive an economy, industry, civic infrastructure, and quality of life — if used correctly, you lower the risk to bring ideas, concepts, and businesses to market. You are also able to identify your customers’ true needs and problems.


According to the Design Forward’s website, “DF17 Summit seeks to ignite conversation and action around how design can improve the way we live, work and play – and provide designers and decision makers with the tools to affect real and lasting change. Our focus is not just theory, it is practice – and they are the lens to see it happen.”


So, what is design anyways?



// Design is not graphic or visual, it is a way of thinking and the businesses who harness the power of design-thinking are the ones that are standing out today.
// True User Experience is how our customers, clients, or partners – it extends across physical and digital landscapes.
// “Design should be owned by all of us” – Pradeep Khosla
// Human-centric design was created solve complex problems.
// Design Thinking + Design Doing = True Impact
// By using the power of our imagination and skills we can attack and address the toughest challenges.



One of my favorite speakers was Phil Gilbert, General Manager of Design at IBM. He presented to the audience on Why Design Matters in today’s business environment, even from a business-to-business (b2b) perspective. I was surprised to hear that IBM specifically hired 1600 designers as a way to make a deeper and stronger connection with their consumers as well as way to ignite, focus, and bring fresh ideas to their company. According to Phil, design as practice and discipline has the biggest opportunity to reinvigorate positive change in companies: locally, nationally, and globally.


As articulated by Phil, design is the intent behind an action, idea, or material object. We, as designers, should aim to get people to fall deeply in-love that they forget about the competition – getting rid of all other possible solutions. We should be focused on triggering the right response to the right person at the right time. If done and executed correctly, we shift the dialogue from a pricing war (where the lowest cost tends to win) to a value and preference conversation, which is where you’d ultimately want to land. We want people to fall so in-love that they only want us!


As designers, we have an obligation to change the perception of what design is. Design is about what the experience is on the other end – your customer – which is why human-centered design is extremely important in today’s day and age.


When taking a step and thinking about how you can implement design-thinking into your business, I advise that you think about more than just the beginning experience, but also the last experience. For example, when you decide to terminate your Netflix account, they send you an email stating that they will keep your data and information for a year and they hope to see you again in the near future.



In the second room, I had the privilege to hear from Michael DiTullo. For more than 20 years, Michael has been designing iconic products and brand experiences for some of the largest brands in the world including Nike, Google, Motorola, Honda, and Hasbro. In his presentation, Michael said if you’re going to design something, take the time to make it something that will bring additional joy to their day. Otherwise, what’s the point?


After hearing that statement, I could not agree anymore. Often times, client tend to request high-quality creative at a fraction of the time it actually takes to craft. Which I don’t blame them because I do as well, but if we take a step and focus on the problem first, then formulate a sound strategy and intent behind what we are doing, then we are able to meet the form and function. Which is where the magic actually occurs. Then, at that point, we are solving a true customer’s pain point – which makes them happy and build brand loyalty – instead of pushing out a sub-par creative that does not move the needle at all.


That statement is not saying take all the time in the world to create something. Rather, it’s more important to follow a process that generates real results focused on solving complex problems and not just cranking out a quick ad or two.


One of the ways Michael is able to create exceptional creative is by starting with a simple sketch. Sketching is one of the most effective approaches to communicate your idea at the infancy stage of the project. At Movetic, we use wireframing for our website projects and hand draw our logos for our branding projects. It is imperative to show our clients sketches as a way to illustrate our process and communicate our strategy, as well as getting them involved early to get their key input and feedback. This ensures the clients are getting the quality product or solution they deserve.



One of my favorite discussions was when they brought out Jared Erondu, Head of Design at Lattice, and Bobby Ghoshal, Co-Founder and CDO, Candid Co. former Head of Design at We-Work. These two design professionals created a video series titled “High Resolution.” Per the website:


High Resolution’ is a limited video series on product design and design thinking.


“Each week, for the next 6 months, we’ll sit down with a new guest for about an hour and we’ll discuss how the best companies approach, communicate and deploy design.”


“We’re filming 25 episodes with 25 masters of the industry. These episodes will result in around 1000 minutes of programming―that’s the size of a good audiobook.”


“We anticipate this to be one of the strongest lineups of design leaders on a single podcast and we hope that by the end of it, you’ll walk away with clear ideas on:


  1. How to discuss the function and value of design, within your organization, with non-designers and business leaders in order to drive investment in people and process.
  2. How to instill a design culture in your business through small experiments that drive results.
  3. How to include stakeholders in your design process and progress.
  4. How to generate confidence in your team and others as they engage problems using the design process.”



They interviewed key design professionals ranging from AirBnB, Facebook, Ebay, Instagram, IDEO and the list goes on . Their series is one of the best and I strongly encourage you to take a look at their series. To learn more visit: and I promise you will enjoy. : )



For the keynote of the event, they brought up Mauro Porcini Chief Design Officer, PepsiCo. To start the presentation, he addressed today’s top issues. Such as consumers consuming content at a rapid pace and every business and everything is global today and there is no such thing as local anymore. We are on a global stage that operates around the clock, 24/7. Taking that deeper, the top challenges are summarized into three key buckets: relevance, frequency/speed, and authenticity. Therefore, it’s our job to first create something that is authentic and relevant, while being able to get out at right time. It’s not an easy challenge, but if you have the right process in place you are truly able to create something people will be proud of and will immediately fall in love with what you created.


Mauro also mentioned, that when people interact with a brand, three things happen: (should aim for these three)


1.Function (solve a problem)

2.Emotional trigger

3.Expressive (what that product says about them)


When looking at your brand and the services or products you provide, what are you doing for your customers? Are you speaking the same language as them? Are you enabling them to be successful? Are you solving their problems? When they work with you to purchase your product, how do you think they feel about the experience? Or when they rep your brand out in the world? These are considerations you should think about when coming out with a new product or service or introducing a company to the world. If you hyper-focus on making people’s lives easier as well as start by identifying what your target wants, your probability of success will be a lot higher.


In the second half of his presentation, Mauro discusses what he feels are the best traits for designers and what they need to be successful today in order to meet the rising demands of consumers.

Here is a list of key traits he feels every good designer should have today:


  • Holistic design approach
  • Business savvy
  • Visionary
  • Entrepreneur mindset
  • High IQ + empathy
  • Design-thinking


All-in-all, Mauro was full of passion, energy, and excitement. I am excited and eager to see what happens next with Pepsi and their other brands (Gatorade, Life Water, etc).  



From the endless conversations to all the new people I met, I am excited about what is to come with design – not only as profession – but for the impact the approach provides inside businesses.


At Movetic, we’ve always believed in the innate value design brings to business strategy, organizational development, and increased revenue. We live in a fast-paced and technology- savvy world now where high-quality, modern design is crucial to stand-out from your competition. Which is why it’s completely exhilarating to see the top organizations leveraging the value of design and pushing it forward into the world.


I want to truly thank all the sponsors and individuals who put on this amazing event. I will leave you with this  – “If we (as creators) don’t take the time to create something great and of value for our customers one that enables them to fall in love and bring joy to their life, then we have not succeeded. Let’s create something great, together, because that one idea, spark or new thought has the power to change lives, bring about positive change, and make an impact – small or large that can change life forever – the true power of great design. It’s time to design a better tomorrow – the future.”


Below are some select photos from the event.

Don Norman Director, Design Lab UC San Diego, Past VP, Apple

Setting the experience, from the second you step foot inside the venue

Bringing music to life, one reggae tone at a time

Designing an experience from top to bottom – one material at a time

As Tim Brown says “Typography not only conveys the meaning of text, it adds meaning to text.”

Josh Roush

AUTHOR - Josh Roush

Josh Roush is a Co-founder of Movetic, where his expertise lies in brand strategy and digital marketing. He writes about branding, marketing, and company culture as it relates to pushing the limit in the new digital age.

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