Interactions Beyond the Digital World

Why would a User Experience Designer attend the “Interaction 2014” conference? What possible reason would propel someone from Krakow to Amsterdam for a four-day conference? After all, Krakow is lovely this time of year, and airline food just doesn’t appeal to me.

But I went to the conference because I really wanted to go. The lineup of speakers and the list of topics were a veritable smorgasbord of intellectual and professional delights. And besides, I have never been to Amsterdam before!

The conference lived up to all my expectations. As I expand my horizons and my perspective, attending this conference gives my work a new dimension.

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Conference highlights

The Interaction 2014 conference, hosted by Interaction Design Association (IxDA), was entitled “Languages of Interaction Design”. The conference assembled a wide range of professionals who gave talks and presentations about interactions in their disciplines. It was a truly fascinating journey of interactions in theater, cuisine, architecture, urban space, linguistics and, of course, interactions in the digital world.

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“Food = interaction”

The way we experience food is much more than simply taste. In his talk, Bernard Lahousse unfolds a surprising story of how surroundings/environment and senses other than taste can affect the experience of food. From this talk, one not only found out how tastes/flavors interact with each other, but one also discovered how the texture of a table or chair can affect taste and what role room color plays in this matter.

“Human Interactions: Physical and Virtual”

This inspiring talk addressed interaction design in architecture, in which space is the physical interface. Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes explains that we cannot design interaction itself; instead, we need to design the context for interaction. She draws a picture of how incomplete, impermanent, and imperfect design invites interaction. The listener may be surprised how much digital designers have in common with architects: we share similar processes and tools, and we also struggle with similar challenges.

“The Executioner’s Tale”

Christina Wodtke gave a talk about working, building and delivering as a team. She presented her toolkit for creating clarity and commitment among team members. This talk will provide you with new tools for building teamwork. If you don’t yet know what OKRs are, you should definitely watch this video.

“You’re unique. Just like everybody else. Or how your perspective is limiting your work and hindering your team”

Although this talk had the longest presentation title at the conference, don’t be intimidated! In her talk, Tash Wong described how individual perspectives can keep us from understanding others. She used gender as point of reference to illustrate her point. “We are social engineers who design systems that influence how people behave and communicate with each other,” she says. We need to find the best way to combine different perspectives to create something truly valuable.

My colleague Ane, who also was at the conference, prepared her own set of highlights. I encourage you to read those as well.

Photos: IxDA Global/Flickr Creative Commons
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