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)
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?
PANEL 2. 1:00 - 2:30 PM (EST)
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?
PANEL 3. 2:45 - 4:15 PM (EST)
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?
All sessions will be hosted on the innovative virtual conferencing platform, Run the World.
10:30 - 10:45 AM
Intro and Welcome
Thank you for a great conference!
PANEL 1. 10:45 - 12:15 PM
teamLab Borderless, Tokyo © teamLab
teamLab Borderless, Shanghai © teamLab
Some truths can only be learned through abstraction. How do designers help us confront truths about our world – past, present, and future? What can we learn about our own realities by traveling, whether geographically, historically, or dimensionally? In this panel, we will engage with artists, mappers, curators, film directors, and tourism operators to explore how a new perspective can help us confront truths about the realities we inhabit.
teamLab (f. 2001) is an international art collective, an interdisciplinary group of various specialists such as artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians and architects whose collaborative practice seeks to navigate the confluence of art, science, technology, and the natural world. teamLab aims to explore the relationship between the self and the world and new perceptions through art.
VR Filmmaker and Founder, U-MA studios
Carol Liu is an independent filmmaker, VR creator and founder of U-Ma Studios, focusing on historical content and the untold stories of marginalized figures. She has premiered projects at renowned venues and international film festivals such as Cannes, Tribeca, Busan and has collaborated with institutions such as UC Berkeley Arts + Design and celebrated artists who have worked on Broadway, with the SF Opera and SF Ballet. Carol received her BA from Stanford University in English Creative Writing and an MFA in Film Production from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.
Founder and CEO of global 4D map Hivemapper
Ariel Seidman is a two-time entrepreneur. He is the CEO and Co-Founder of Hivemapper. Prior to Hivemapper, Ariel has led teams of innovators as the co-founder and CEO of Gigwalk, a mobile mechanical turk serving all the leading mapping companies and a Fast Company Top 10 Mobile Innovation in 2013. Prior to that he was Director of Product Management at Yahoo Maps and Search where he fell in love with geospatial tech.
Sofie is Head of Digital Content and Editorial at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she creates transformative storytelling experiences that innovate the museum experience - in person and remotely- by inspiring and activating audiences. Previously, she was interim Chief Digital Officer at the Met, and was the Director of Digital Media at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. She has also held positions as a Digital Strategist and award-winning multi-media producer for MoMA, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Tate Modern, The National Gallery, London, Statens Museum for Kunst Denmark, The Hong Kong Museum of Art, Discovery Communications, and Hugo Boss. Sofie holds a BA Hons in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, UK, and a certificate in Arts Administration from NYU.
Moderated by Lee Moreau
Design Lecturer at MIT, former VP of Design at Continuum
Lee Moreau is the founder of Other Tomorrows, a design and strategy consultancy based in Boston. Previously, he was the VP of Design at EPAM Continuum, Director of Environments at 2x4, and worked as a designer at IDEO and at the Rockwell Group. Lee also teaches human-centered design courses within MIT’s School of Architecture.
PANEL 2. 1:00 - 2:30PM
Visit Faroe Islands Remote Tourism
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 do designers invent new worlds? How much escapism is healthy, and when does escapism become denial? How can escaping reality help us to confront the world around us more responsibly? We’ll learn from creatives who use set design, VR filmmaking, installations, and even rollercoasters, to learn about the pleasure, and necessity, of escaping reality.
Levi is responsible for Visit Faroe Islands' communication and marketing strategies – domestic and international - and also works with PR, collaborating with international journalists, bloggers and influencers to promote the Faroe Islands.
He plays an integral part in the teams that create Visit Faroe Islands’ marketing campaigns, including the multi-award winning campaigns Google Sheep View, Closed for Maintenance and Remote Tourism.
He also manages, organises and creates content for Visit Faroe Islands' website, social media channels and newsletters. Levi has a degree in journalism and has previously worked as a TV journalist and magazine editor.
VP of Creative for Live Entertainment at Disney Parks at Disney Imagineering
Shelby Jiggetts-Tivony is the vice-president of global creative and advanced development for Disney Parks Live Entertainment. In that capacity she is responsible for the leadership of the Glendale, CA based creative executives, creative directors and art directors as well as talent development and outreach. Globally she is part of a leadership team charged with upholding the creative integrity of live entertainment (stage shows, parades, character development and spectaculars) in Disney’s parks, resorts and cruise ships around the world.
Bader Al Moulah
Founder of in.visible.inc, CGI storytelling
Bader Al Moulah is an Architect, Engineer, Filmmaker, Photographer, and aspiring Astronaut. His passion for science and film led him down a path of creative art, design, travel and adventure. After achieving his dream of becoming an Imagineer for Walt Disney Imagineering, he decided to pursue his childhood goal of becoming an Astronaut. He is currently the co-founder of in.visible.inc, a start-up VFX production house in Kuwait, President of the Kuwaiti Chapter of the Mars Society; Ignition, and the National Point of Contact in Kuwait for the Space Generation Advisory Council. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Architectural Engineering and a Master's in Architecture. Bader hopes to inspire others to pursue their dreams.
Founder of VR tech startup Innov8
Abdul Gieballa is a 25 year old Los Angeles native and the Founder and CEO of Innov8 Technologies Inc., a Virtual & Augmented Reality Media Production and Marketing Company. He studied Mechanical Engineering at UCLA, and when he’s not working on blurring the lines of reality, he loves to take spontaneous trips around the world.
Moderated by Hanan Kataw
Hanan Kataw is an architect and a PhD student at Harvard University, where her research looks at the rise of the digital culture in architecture and its accompanying discourse. She holds a Master's in Architectural History from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL and a Bachelor's in Architecture Engineering from the University of Jordan. She is also the co-founder of Jidar, a Jordanian initiative that seeks to create new platforms and opportunities to advance the Arabic architectural discourse.
PANEL 3. 2:45 - 4:15PM
Design for America
How do designers shape not only our present, but also our future? How much can they shape reality, and when do they simply have to confront the realities around us? Is technology an enabler, or a limiting force, for constructing our reality? What can we learn from a machine that we can’t learn from ourselves? We will explore all these questions and more with a panel of architects, AI artists, and designers whose canvas is the present, and the future.
Director of MxR Lab at USC
Jessica Brillhart is an immersive designer, theorist, and writer. She is the director of the Mixed Reality Lab (MxR) at University of California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. Prior to her appointment, she was the Principle Filmmaker for Virtual Reality at Google and spearheaded efforts in exploring the technology and language of the mediums of virtual reality, augmented reality, and intelligent systems.
Jane Gormley is a senior at Washington University in St. Louis studying Sociology and Creative Practice for Social Change. She is a former president of WashU Design For America and is currently leading the organization through a set of projects to reimagine its approach to community-engaged work.
Speculative Designer, former Design Director at McKinsey
Jason currently works as Global Design Director for Cision. He brings twenty years specializing in service design and digital product development along with helping companies innovate using strategic foresight. Previously Jason was Experience Design Director at McKinsey where he co-founded the Futures Tribe bringing foresight approaches to clients. He is also in the process of writing his first science fiction novel.
Head of Research at SITU, architecture practice for social impact
Brad Samuels is a founding partner at SITU and the Director of SITU Research—an organization that merges data and design to create new pathways for justice and accountability. Recent work has focused on the use of citizen video as key evidence documenting the excessive use of force and suppression of dissent by police departments across the United States. Outside the multidisciplinary practice, Brad sits on the Technology Advisory Board for the International Criminal Court and the board of The Architectural League of New York, is a Fellow with the Urban Design Forum and teaches in Barnard College and Columbia University’s undergraduate architecture program.
Moderated by Sheng-Hung Lee
Sheng-Hung Lee is the Vice Chair of Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) Boston Chapter, President and Co-founder of Planet D, and MIT AgeLab researcher. He is a member of the World Design Organization (WDO), Asia Designer Communication Platform (APD), Taiwan Society of Technology and Sociology. His work has won awards including IDEA, iF Award, Red Dot, and was showcased at Dubai Design Week, Venice Design Week, and the Cooper Hewitt museum. Lee taught product design at Fudan University Shanghai Institute of Visual Art and Detao Masters Academy.