DesignNXT Week 2019 was an emerging technologies conference being held for the first time in Atlanta this year. The really interesting part was that it was spearheaded by TVS Design, an Atlanta based Architecture firm. This is unusual since most events like this tend to be put together by software companies or larger industry organizations. However, this unique angle was one of the main drivers that ultimately swayed our decision to attend.
The event was held at TVS’s SpaceLab V2.0″ at The Met near The Beltline on the southwest side of Atlanta. This is a space that TVS uses to test concepts, furniture, workplace trends, host events, and just provide a place for folks to get together outside of the main office. The space was perfect for this inaugural event.
The other aspect of the conference that was very well done was the speakers. The backgrounds of the speakers were varied and extremely well qualified. We heard from business leaders, technologists, owners, young folks, and more “experienced” folks. There all of whom brought various perspectives to the conversation represented. Most of the sessions were panel discussions. where Each speaker had a few minutes to touch on the overall “topic” of the session and then there were questions posed to the panels. This format really brought out a variety of views.
There were a few themes that really echoed throughout the two days and multiples panels. The first – that while technology and tools are really cool, we need to consider the problem statement and re-balance the “how” with the “why” to really create the value with innovation and change. The second – that knowledge sharing and bridging the knowledge gap that was exacerbated by the recession is so critical to keeping the craft alive and how technology can help with harnessing this critical information before it’s lost forever. The third – communication is still king, using technology to help and improve communication is great, using it to replace communication doesn’t work. Lastly, for architecture/engineering to continue to compete, we’re going to need to attract and retain some of the best people and create the right culture for them to succeed. Openness to innovation and results is one of the cultural shifts that will drive the next generation of talent.
Throughout all the panels there were a lot of more focused examples and some exciting workflows shown. When I attend technology-based conferences it’s hard for me to not get wrapped up in the details and get a little jealous of the fancy tools that someone has developed for their firms. It’s important to take a step back and remember that so much of that comes from a different scale of firm and work. Our job is to take some of the lessons learned from these folks and apply them to our business practice, to make those incremental changes, to be ready for what’s next. Part of what made this conference so appealing is that in several cases we heard from people truly in our landscape and we were able to speak with them afterwards.
The final thing I left the event with was for the industry to really move the benefit needle, we need to consider the joint value proposition (i.e. work together). This isn’t suggesting some kumbaya moment where everyone stops competing with one another. What it suggests is that sometimes there are tools and ideas that are bigger than just our bubbles and maybe getting together to have some of these discussions will make all of us better. I’m excited to continue these discussions over the next year and hope that this event will continue.