DesignTalks 2014: Dealing with Reality

The theme for this years DesignTalks was ‘Dealing with Reality’. How does a designer, or really just anyone, deal with reality? After the opening ceremony and some opening words from the moderators, Stephan Sigrist and Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir, Marco Steinberg opened the talk with the topic; ‘Government – Copy the past or design the future?’



Full disclosure, I had read the name of his talk beforehand and was thinking of taking a coffee break when it started. I’m  glad I didn’t. Not only is Marco a talented speaker that got the whole room listening to his every word. He also made some very good points. He is a consultant for the Finnish government but I actually think it should be made mandatory for every government employee in the world to listen to Mr. Steinberg for a good hour. Things might just start to run a little smoother.

Next up was Kathryn Firth, architect, Urban Designer and Chief of Design London Legacy Development Corporation. The London Legacy Development Corporation is currently working on the redesign of the Olympic Park in London along with it’s adjacent communities. After her talk she and Marco Steinberg sat down with the two moderators to discuss some interesting topics. Next up lunch!


After a light lunch Robert Wong took the stage. Mr. Wong is the ‘Chief Creative Officer’ at Google Creative Lab. ‘Invent the future’ was the name of his talk and he took us through the link between design and technology and his story at Google. I loved his point on Tech < Life. Technology is really nothing unless we use it and we can and should use it to add value to our lives. It can never be this thing that takes over. I also think he gave one of the best advices any aspiring designer could take. Instead of feeling this pressure to make something great, just try to make something, in his own words, ‘suck less’. And just…



Mikael Schiller, Executive Chairman of the Acne Studios, was up next. The Acne phenomenon just keeps growing and it is the Scandinavian fashion brand that is making the biggest waves abroad. We looked at all the interesting collaborations Acne has done recently, their show at Paris Fashion Week and the new store location in downtown Los Angeles. It’s located in the Eastern Columbia Building and definitely worth a visit.


Calvin Klein has had an incredibly long and successful career. Just as he was stepping on stage yesterday I realized my husband almost exclusively wears underwear by Calvin and has done since I met him. I wore CK be for most of my teenage years and still remember some pair of CK jeans myself and ‘everyone’ had to have at a similar point in time. What all of these things have in common unlike a lot of things that have to do with fashion is the simplicity and quality of the design. Pictures of me wearing said jeans have aged fine, but the same can unfortunately not be said for most other fashion statements made during those years.

Steinunn Sigurðardóttir was the moderator for this segment of the talks. Their personal connection took the discussion to a higher level and it really was a treat to witness.

A big thank you to everyone who organized the event. I am already looking forward to DesignTalks 2015.

Photography by Hulda Sif Ásmundsdóttir.