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An Inefficient SXSW Experience

During the web 2.0 boom, I became intrigued with the phenomenon known as SXSW. Keeping up with the festival every year since, I finally got the opportunity to attend for 2015.

After a short drive from Fort Worth, my associate and I arrived in the proudly weird city of Austin, Texas. Initially, the only thing that struck us as weird were the swarms of pedicabs that slow downtown Austin traffic to a crawl.

Who cares if you have a Game of Thrones cart, get out of the road!

 

Finally we arrived at Ground Zero: SWSW Interactive Expo at the convention center. Half the sessions were over for the day, but there was still time to catch a couple.

First up was the curator of the MoMA in New York, Paola Antonelli. Ms. Antonelli discussed theories of design involving quantum entanglement, nature, and more traditional ways of making art. This was interesting from an artistic standpoint, but…how exactly is it related to interactive?

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The next session I attended was titled “How to Be A More Inefficient Designer,” presented by Made Shop’s Marke and Nathan Johnson. Here, things began to get more interesting. Despite the name of the presentation, it wasn’t really about being inefficient. To the Johnson’s, inefficiency was working with unexpected art elements, while still emphasizing the importance of meeting deadlines and completing work in a profitable manner.

The most interesting example they provided was the Logo Remix for Adobe. Made Shop took this concept of inefficiency and used it to re-imagine the Adobe logo. They could have done everything in the computer and gotten it exactly how they imagined it, but by actually building a physical box and seeing how it reacted to different materials, they really created some interesting pieces of work.

After looking through their portfolio I realized they took their concept of inefficiency to an extreme. All the work had the same approach of handmade and artsy design. They’d obviously made this approach work for them.

However, I think there are missed opportunities by strictly going with an inefficient way of creating work. It could be limiting to what kind of clients your company attracts. Being more diverse in the work you create is hugely beneficial.

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Being a one trick pony will eventually make you irrelevant. If you’re not willing to incorporate as many ways of finding a solution to a problem, you’re missing out on many possibilities.

So after all these years, I was really happy to finally get to attend SXSW. Through all the traffic, pedicabs, and overly artsy (weird?) people in Austin, I actually learned quite few things that I hope to incorporate into my work at Warren Douglas. SXSW has been portrayed as a meeting place of great minds and creativity. It certainly didn’t disappoint.

*Photo: Ryan Harvey

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