For this year’s SPAN design conference, we wanted to turn the typical conference giveaway into a thing of substance. So instead of more branded tees or tchotchkes, we decided to produce something that designers might actually want to keep (not just wear for the occasional workout) or put on their shelves (a tall order for picky decorators). But how do you package a conference about ideas and conversations? How do you channel the experience of learning about another person’s passions and process? Then it hit us: We could make a book.
You might be wondering, why make a book? Isn’t SPAN about design and technology? Aren’t they UX designers? Don’t they make software, and spend their time thinking about user flows, interactions, and multi-device layouts... Well, we do, but it turns out that much of our thinking about these systems begins with book design. In fact, Material Design is built around the principles of classic typography and grid systems—ideas that started with print design—and, of course, paper. If the proliferation and popularity of book fairs is any indication, it seems like the art of the book is alive and doing well—so we’re definitely not alone in our interest.
But beyond precedents and trends, our best reason for making a reader for SPAN, is that it provides a very natural way for us to continue the design conversation. So many of the speakers we invited to the conference have endlessly creative and critical ideas to bring to the design practice, and there’s no way to cover it all in a 40-minute presentation. By creating a reader, we get to capture the essence of this year’s conference, while also being additive. The videos, the connections, and now the book itself collectively offer an experience beyond what an individual attendee could possibly encounter.