This year we at Four Fin were fortunate to be able to attend a number of SDDW events: I chose a couple of virtual ones in the middle of the workweek and a couple of live events over the weekend. Here’s a brief overview of what I experienced.
First up was General Assembly’s UX Design 101. It’s always good to brush up since it’s an ever-changing industry, and I did learn a few new tricks. Daniel Huss was an entertaining presenter, who sprinkled solid UX axioms with witticisms and amusing examples. Some takeaways included:
- Ask open-ended questions. Start with a small amount of questions but dig into them by asking why after the initial answer.
- “Love the problem, not the solution.” This is so important for every designer to remember (and so easy to forget). There are many possible solutions and it’s best not to get too attached to any one. We love to explore this maxim during Brand Sessions.
- Silence is the best tool because people want to fill the awkward silence, and therefore they’ll elaborate more. Allow gaps. Who knew being awkward could be a bonus?
As some of you may know, I’m one of two Fins who moonlight as design educators (can you guess who else does?) so the next session that caught my eye was the live portfolio review with the lovely Julia Masalska. She had plenty of good tips for building a strong portfolio including:
- Let your personality show through
- Create case studies
- Present a shocking fact about the problem you’re solving
- Make it functional
- Don’t overuse free mockups
- Be creative with presenting your work
- State a clear intention: do you want to get hired? Full-time? Freelancer?
These are helpful tidbits not only for recent grads but also more seasoned designers who are updating their websites. Her presentation was followed by a live review of a few portfolios by Erika Lauro, Talin Wadsworth and Temi Coker. One to watch is Antonio Mustico. Rising star, for sure!
We’ve always been fascinated by shipping container homes, so my next stop on Sunday was the Work-from-home Life In A Shipping Container tour by Noble Intent Studio. The workspace was small in size but big in creativity with a view of the garden through the floor to ceiling windows. Next we got to see the guest house portion of the container. We loved the plywood floors, which apparently shipping containers come with, and they just sanded and stained them. If you missed this one, you can check out their instagram here.
My final hurrah was the San Diego Made Factory tour. It was welcoming and vibrant, with mimosas and music and art and vegan snacks. There was so much visual eye candy (special shout out to Alyssa Rose for the beautiful abstract paintings). Conversations were flowing and inspiring, and I even got an impromptu tour of the upstairs workspaces, led by Raygun’s founder, Stacey Edelstein. We’ve been a fan of their work for a while here at Four Fin, so it was a treat to meet her and see where their magic happens. As an added bonus, we got to peek in our client Sam Mazzeo of Better’s office window. Lastly we checked out the basement, where Humble Design calls their home. I’m in awe of what they do to transform empty spaces into fully furnished homes for people emerging from homelessness.
San Diego Design Week was a good reminder of the creativity that San Diego houses all year long. We promise we won’t wait another year to seek out more local inspiration and you shouldn’t either.