Not Just A Conference—The Conference

Yes, it definitely was a blast and now we’re a bit sad that it’s over. It’s the same feeling every year, every conference kind of becomes a dear friend, who explodes.

— The Conference

If someone invites you to participate in a design conference held in a former slaughterhouse in Malmö, Sweden, you say yes.

The Conference (yes, that is the maddeningly un-Googleable name) takes a delightfully holistic approach, organizing sessions around human behavior, emerging technology, and methods for moving from ideas to action. And while there were a handful of 45-minute keynotes, most of the sessions were sets of 3 15-minute(ish) talks followed by a Q&A, time allowing. (It’s really difficult not to run over into some of that -ish time). This I found to be a really fantastic format. Conference days can be quite long. And attention drifts. If people are going to bother coming together in person to learn from each other, you want to make the most of that opportunity.


“Light” is the word I would use to describe everything about this event. While the topics varied from playful to quite serious, the brevity of the talks, the venue, and the overall tone contributed to an easy airy feeling uncommon at conferences. There was genuine joy in bringing together an eclectic international group of people, emanating in particular from The Conference Director, Martin Thörnkvist.

And have you seen a conference schedule so clear and pretty? No, you have not.

In addition to the live-stream of all the sessions, photos and videos were live on the website the same day. Who does that?

My talk was part of a session called Paying Attention. My mission was to remind everyone that because we are human, we must be realistic about the limits of data-driven decision-making. Human beings will never reduce to an engineering problem.

If you have 18ish minutes, you can enjoy my talk right now.

Talks by my co-presenters Sille Krukow a behavioral design expert and Ge-Jin of IDEO Shanghai.I also recommend you enjoy the following:

One of the clearest explanations of Bitcoin I’ve ever heard by Sarah Jeong.

The origin of Media Evolution, the parent organization, and community building by CEO Magnus Thure Nilsson.

Really, those talks are like potato chips and you can watch one after the other.

And finally, you should see this fantastic video about how the remarkably unified and beautifully hand-crafted event design came together.

My work at Mule doesn’t free up too much time to travel for conferences. I’m lucky this year I’ve had the opportunity to participate in some fantastic ones.