Next weekend I’m heading up to San Francisco to moderate Compostmodern, one of my all-time favorite conferences—and one that I’ve attended religiously since 2008. Not only is it a fun time with like-minded folk in a beautiful city, but Compostmodern has also exposed me to some pretty powerful ideas when it comes to the role of design in the sustainability conversation. I can even show you examples.
When I covered the conference for UnBeige in 2008, I remember having what I called my grand “eco-piphany.” I realized after Valerie Casey’s incredible talk launching the Designers Accord that it was really up to designers (and myself) to change the conversation when it came to companies preventing waste and becoming more socially-responsible. I began focusing on the people and projects who were moving the industry forward, not setting it back. In 2009, I was honored to be invited to liveblog the entire conference at Core77. Here’s all the posts including that year’s eco-piphany, thanks to the incredible Nathan Shedroff, who made it hit home that true sustainability includes one very important element I hadn’t realized before: financial sustainability. He really made us think hard about what it meant to define our actions as sustainable, which influenced the language I use to describe the true impact of an initiative. Nathan was tough: He even assigned everyone homework for the Monday after the conference.
The speakers at Compostmodern in the past have quite literally changed the way I think and write about design, and I couldn’t be more excited to be the one up there introducing them all. Industrial design superstud Yves Behar kicks off the day, and we’ll also hear from massive-changer Bruce Mau; Lisa Gansky, author of The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing; Scott Thomas, who was design director for the Obama campaign; Heather Fleming, CEO of Catapult Design; and Christopher Simmons, who just finished writing a book called Just Design (which I wrote an essay for), as well as many, many more. Then the second day is an unconference, with participants and a group of Compostmodern fellows from places like IDEO, Brute Labs, and fuseproject determining the agenda for workshops and discussions based on the issues brought up by the speakers.
If you’re in San Francisco January 22 and 23, I highly suggest checking out the lineup and purchasing your ticket right away. For $249 per person, it’s far below what most people pay for a day of ideas and inspiration like this. I’d go so far as to argue that it’s the most sustainable decision you or your company could make—financial or otherwise. Hope to see you there!