Thishappened.org: a cultural report

Most “normal” people, when they relocate, take a comfortable flight, try to minimize their stress levels and enjoy unpacking with a glass of white wine and a nice meal. Not this girl.

I woke up last wednesday at 6 in the morning to take a cab with my flatmate D’arcy to Schipol to drop my worldly possessions packed into a suitcase and a travelbag, then took the train back into town, at around 8, waited for the office to open, spent the day there, stepped out into another cab at 3 30, took a flight to Stansted, took a train into town, kissed Matt hello, then hopped back on a bus to attend ThisHappened.org, the first of a series of talks, featuring distinguished speakers, about the practice of interaction design.

I was invited to attend by one of the organisers: Chris O’Shea and felt very honored, considering it’s a “50 people only” event.

What happens when you step out of a plane is that you tend to forget you’ve stepped into someone else’s culture and this also applies to professional circles. I definitely felt I had stepped in someone else’s living room for a few hours as there was a homey feeling that everyone knew each other and knew who so-and-so and thingypoo were. Jokes about certain companies and people were flying left and right, which set off my mental to-google list.

The highlight of the evening was of course Moritz Waldemeyer‘s presentation of his work with fashion designer Hussein Chalayan’s on his spring/summer 2007 collection. If you’ve been hiding under a rock in the past 6 months, well let me point to the recent NYT article written about him. A poster-boy for the technology-saavy designery crowd, he’s been working with the likes of Zaha Hadid, Ron Arad and Yves Behar helping their technological and interactive wet dreams come true. As he went on to explain the grueling task of sewing electronics onto the dress of a beautiful model, I could hear the jaws of many a people in the audience drop. The room was of course, mostly full of men and some moody looking women in great skirts (very London).

There was definitely designer-envy. As a professional, you don’t often get to get your hands that dirty. I know people in the field who do production work by spending weeks on Illustrator, so the picture that Moritz’s career paints would make anyone drop their dayjobs and go study engineering for a few years.

His presentation was followed by a man whose work I’ve always respected immensely: Durrel Bishop, now co-founder of Luckybite, also former head of the Interaction design program at the RCA. He went on to present the excruciating process of designing for cell phones for a project he did for Mixi, the Japanses MySpace. Always witty and gracious, he lead us through the the process of developing a cell phone photo-based community tool and the hurdles of dealing with hardware and software for cellphones to build a prototype.

Set on the upper floor of a pub, with the rest of the town watching football (I heard Liverpool Manchester United lost) this event was cozy and engaged enough to be worth repeating monthly. If I’m lucky enough to be invited again, I will surely keep reporting as the stories behind interaction design projects definitely deserve their 15 minutes of fame.

Official pictures for the event here.

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designswarm

Founder of designswarm & the Good Night Lamp. Ex CEO of Tinker London, Head of Bulb Labs till May 2019.

One thought on “Thishappened.org: a cultural report”

  1. Hi alex, thanks for the write-up.

    I should point out that the 50 people limit wasn’t one of invitation only. As our first event with no funding, we had a very small venue. The first 50 people to register on the site were able to attend. We hope to do it again with a bigger venue next time.

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