Now more than ever our daily lives move through not one but multiple, blended realities, realities which are shaped by our built environments, the tools we use, and the experiences we share. By exploring Reality by Design at HarvardxDesign's (virtual) conference, we will jointly reflect on how design has and will continue to shape the way we see and experience the world. We will engage with designers, artists, thinkers, and leaders who are central to shaping the realities we inhabit.

Some are inventing novel and creative ways to confront the ever more apparent realities of social, spatial, and cultural inequities. Some are providing new ways to change or escape reality through augmented immersive and emotion-driven experiences. Others are working to construct new realities by re-designing virtual ways to think, live, and work. Our diverse set of panelists will speak to how they are using design to represent and influence the realities we are all living in.

Harvard xDesign is an annual conference launched in 2012 organized by student organizations at Harvard Graduate School of Design and Harvard Business School. We bring together creative thinkers, design luminaries, professors, industry leaders, and students to engage, debate, and reinterpret design across scales and sectors.

Following the conference Harvard xDesign and HBS Design Club hosted a fireside chat with Alexandre de Betak, who for over 25 years has been the creative force behind Bureau Betak, the world’s leading fashion show and special events company.

View Alexandre de Betak Fireside Chat
PANEL 1. 10:45 - 12:15 PM (EST)

Confronting Reality

Our perceptions of reality often dictate our truths, some intentionally erased or difficult to face. What can we learn about ourselves and others by traveling, whether geographically, historically, or dimensionally?

teamLab, teamLab

Carol Liu, U-MA studios

Ariel Seidman, Hivemapper

Sofie Andersen, Metropolitan Museum

Moderated by Lee Moreau, Continuum and MIT

PANEL 2. 1:00 - 2:30 PM (EST)

Escaping Reality

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of escaping--we escaped for the sake of fun, for our mental health, and for a dose of artistic inspiration. How much escapism is healthy, and when does escapism become denial?

Levi Hanssen, Visit Faroe Islands Remote Tourism

Shelby Jiggetts-Tivony, Disney Imagineering

Bader Al Moulah,

Abdul Gieballa, Innov8

Moderated by Hanan Kataw, Harvard GSD

PANEL 3. 2:45 - 4:15 PM (EST)

Constructing Reality

Designers shape the future by constantly reinterpreting and reimagining the present. By construting new forms of reality, what is revealed about our society, and are these findings generative or limiting?

Jessica Brillhart, MxR Lab at USC

Jane Gormley, Design for America

Jason Napolitano, Speculative Designer, formerly McKinsey Design

Brad Samuels, SITU

Moderated by Sheng-Hung Lee, MIT AgeLab and IDSA Boston


All sessions will be hosted on the innovative virtual conferencing platform, Run the World.

10:30 - 10:45 AM
Intro and Welcome
10:45 - 12:15 PM
Panel 1: Confronting Reality
12:15 - 1:00 PM
1:00 - 2:30 PM
Panel 2: Escaping Reality
2:30 - 2:45 PM
4:15 - 4:30 PM

February 28, 2021

Thank you for a great conference!