So I meant to have a liveblog going throughout the duration of the HOW Conference in Chicago...however, I got carried away in the windy city and could only get around to it now. My bad. This was such an enjoyable event; not only did the conference provide a much needed jolt of inspiration, but the city itself - and its colourful inhabitants - were a living, breathing piece of art. The architecture was unlike anything I have ever seen before. As a co-worker commented, it was like the backdrop for a movie set. In our case it would be an indie flick starring picas, printers and Pantone chips, and here is the synopsis:

• My favourite session was "What the Future Wants From a Designer" for its honesty. This profession is not what it once was, and will likely morph into something altogether different in the future. Designers need to bring more to the table, rather than layout skills and the ability to use Photoshop. Everyone from our grandparents to the kid selling lemonade down the block has access to tools that can lead them to believe they are "designers" (or alternately, access to websites that offer $5 logos). We need to be actively involved in understanding sociological & scientific trends, strategy and developing "big picture ideas" that can influence human behavior. The session also included seven key trends for the future: 1) Simplistic Slowdown (people will not be buying as much); 2) Rentalism (sharing of goods); 3) "Maker Culture" (people become their own designers/marketers); 4) Desktop Fabrication (this was the bizarre/awesome example); 5) Embrace of the Imperfect; 6) Technology Will Become the Designer; 7) Science will redefine what it means to be human and will influence marketing more than focus groups. 

• The HOW Conference introduced me to artist Theo Jansen. His kinetic sculptures blow my mind. 

• Interesting that the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) at Best Buy has seen an increase of productivity by 41% and a reduction of turnover by 45%. This is definitely how I've been accustomed to operating over the past few years and hopefully more businesses take note. 

I will write more about Chi-town over the weekend. 

How Conference Notes Day 1:

- First off, I gotta say, Chi-Town is AWESOME! The people here are really friendly. Like, Canadian-friendly. I feel very much at home.
- The Opening Keynote was not what I expected...but it did demonstrate the importance of carrying breathmints at all times.
- Eighteen months ago I visited Japan and got to see QR Codes for the first time; if this conference (and the people marketing their products at it) are any indication, these things will become increasingly important in strategy. After all, the future is mobile.
- Swag is always awesome...but the following companies really stood out at the Resource Centre: Finch Paper (awesome posters and Kanye glasses); Yupo Synthetic Paper (best paper books, hands down); Domtar (can a bunch of hipster designers turn the lynx into the next wolf-esque t-shirt superstar?); I've been thinking about creating a book of my travel photos on Blurb...and now I can do so for free! Mega awesome; and, my father is totally going to hang that foil Porsche portrait from Finlay in his garage. It's marinated in awesome sauce.

Seeing as I've reached my daily quota for saying "awesome", I will write more tomorrow.