Information and Design panel sparks insightful discussion at May 2013 Future By Design

On May 28, panelists, audience members and virtual attendees took part in a discussion of the relation between design, information and 'big data'.



David Bradfield, Social Strategy Lead, North America at SapientNitro

Paddy Harrington RGD, SVP Design Innovation and Digital Creative Director at Indigo

Stephen Jurisic, Executive Creative Director / Partner at John St.

Eddie Opara, Partner at Pentagram NY


RGD's Future By Design panel series is presented in collaboration with Gladstone Hotel and Resolve Collaboration. Designers from across the province are invited to view case study presentations from a panel of creative industry experts, and participate in the discussion that follows. Creatives can listen in on the opinions of the panel, pose questions to the speakers, and share their own thoughts and ideas on topics as they are introduced via live TweetChat.


For our May 2013 session, David Bradfield, Paddy Harrington, Stephen Jurisic and Eddie Opara gathered at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto for a discussion broadcast to satellite locations in Hamilton, Kingston, Welland, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury.


The event kicked off with case study presentations from each of the panelists, highlighting specific projects that explore a design approach to information and big data.


Case Study Highlights:


David Bradfield presented "Story Scaping: A Connected Future", explaining how the SapientNitro team are redesigning storytelling for an ‘always-on’ world with platforms like ‘Epic Mix’ for skiers.

“Consumers are far more creative than ever before…they don’t want to be told a story, they want to be at the heart of the story”  - David Bradfield


Paddy Harrington RGD shared a case study on ‘The Power of Zoom’, illustrating how the plus/minus feature can help us make sense of the near incomprehensible numbers that surround us.

“Visuals help us truly appreciate scale where information defies our ability to conceive of its magnitude” – Paddy Harrington


Stephen Jurisic showed us the value of a good infographic, which must ‘inform, inspire, and entertain’, with John St.’s ‘Catvertising’ promo video.

“There are a lot of people out there who claim they have advertising solved, that they’ve found the perfect model…the key is to have fun with data” – Stephen Jurisic


Eddie Opara’s ‘Who Cares’ presentation emphasized the big-picture influence of design with Pentagram’s Geothermal Heat Pump Manual project.

“We often chastise ourselves over the idea of what graphic design is…design can influence public policy and re-adjust the way a large city like New York thinks about a particular topic”  - Eddie Opara


Panel Highlights:


Following the case studies, the four panelists came together to discuss how design can make information meaningful, what constitutes effective research, and whether designers have a responsibility to measure the success of their work.


“From a data visualization point of view, designers are in a position of real power and we don’t even realize it” – Eddie Opara


“The job of advertisers is becoming increasingly tough because consumers know more than they ever did before, and they’re really the ones in control” – Stephen Jurisic


“Before we visualize something, we should start writing about it and distill it down like a fine whiskey” – Eddie Opara


“We need to ask ourselves, how can we leverage this flood of information being created and use it to truly transform ourselves for the better?” – Paddy Harrington RGD


“Here’s the challenge: ‘big data’ is the buzz term that no one really knows how to define. It’s not so much about creating an infographic as it is about telling a story”  - David Bradfield


“Our unconscious brain, although more capable of processing vast amounts of information, has been squeezed out of our lives”  - Paddy Harrington


Eddie Opara’s one last piece of advice for designers: “Befriend statisticians”


Feedback from Satellite Venues


"We had a great conversation before and during the break on how data is driving how and what we design, and the need for metrics to be in place to capture the success of design/marketing," says Wendy Millard RGD who organized the Kingston Future By Design gathering. "We were all quite interested in the Target story, and how the company's focused data drove the marketing and design initiatives to the point where privacy and social issues came into play."




Satellite venue attendees, webcast viewers, and live audience members in Toronto were all invited to share their feedback and contribute to the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag ‘#rgdFBD’.


In Toronto:

@cherithbrooke: At #rgdFBD @GladstoneHotel…nice to hear some creatives speaking their minds!


Andy Ratz @RatzAndy: @GladstoneHotel watching the #rgdFBD, learning a lot from inspirational designers and speakers.


From Satellite Venues:

@VSGroupNB: It’s fantastic to see work that uses design with such a high level of functionality #rgdFBD (North Bay)


Victor Paola @vpaola: Thx for this – great discussion and insight at #rgdFBD! (Hamilton)


Terra Designs @terradesigns_ca: To ‘inform, inspire and entertain’ – goals of great design were met tonight at RGD’s Future by Design event #rgdFBD (Sudbury)


Justin Dzama @Dzamage: Taking notes at #rgdFBD – an amazing panel with a lot of insight into using and visualizing #BigData (Sault Ste. Marie)


View more of the conversation by searching #rgdFBD on twitter.


Save the Date!


Our next Future By Design is scheduled for September 24. Keep checking the RGD website for details.