Guide to SPAN LA

Watch all the talks from our LA conference and learn more about the speakers, including Peter Shire, Jessie Kawata, and Frances Anderton

Welcome to #SPAN16, Google Design’s annual conference exploring the connections between, and conversations around design and technology. This year, we livestreamed our events in both Tokyo and Los Angeles, so that people everywhere could enjoy the day. In celebration of the LA event on October 27, we put together a handy cheat sheet—three things you might like to know about each of our speakers plus all the talks from the day.

Quick Links:

Schedule #SPAN16

SPAN Los Angeles Schedule

You can now watch each of our speaker's talks by clicking "play video" below.

Barbara Bestor | play video Architect

Levi Brooks | play video Use All Five

  • Brooks co-founded the design and technology studio Use All Five with Jason Farrell in 2006. He now leads the company as CEO.
  • Use All Five works with clients like UCLA, Faraday Future, and Google on forward-thinking projects and experiments like Storylines, a microsite and visual identity for the Guggenheim.
  • Brooks writes a weekly recap of notable ideas and products, as well as long-form posts for 99U. Read his recent advice on brainstorming questions over solutions.

Eames Demetrios | play video Eames Office

  • Demetrios is an artist, filmmaker, and director of the Eames Office whose mission is dedicated to communicating, preserving, and extending the work of his grandparents, the legendary designers Charles and Ray Eames.
  • He continues to explore the Eameses design legacy through talksbooks, and the work of the Eames Foundation, of which he is a board member.
  • Demetrios is the creator of Kcymaerxthaere, a large-scale project and ongoing work of three-dimensional fiction.

Alissa Walker | play video Writer

  • Walker is the urbanism editor at Curbed, where she writes about the design of cities—covering infrastructure, transportation, and policy. Her piece “How Pokémon Go is improving your city,” appears in the second edition of our SPAN reader.
  • She talks frequently about design, with varied speaking engagements and critical endeavors, including AIGA’s national conference, KCRW’s DnA (see Frances Anderton, below), and architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne’s Third L.A. On a recent Third L.A. episode, Walker discusses the controversy surrounding the Hollywood Sign.
  • She is an avid pedestrian and advocate for public transportation, documenting her car-free pursuits on her aptly titled blog: A Walker in LA.

Shannon Ebner | play video Artist

  • Ebner is an artist living and working in Los Angeles. Her photography, sculpture, and video work explores the nature of writing and language.
  • “When I spell out punctuation, I am curious to see how it will function within the context of an exhibition and how it might move or delay the reading of the work and in this way begin to form something else,” says Ebner. “I find that I am less and less interested in the singular image and instead in the possibility of a photographic sentence where images can act as units to build something.” Read more in this Q&A with the Hammer Museum.
  • Auto Body Collision, an artist book based on a series of Ebner’s photographs, was published by the Carnegie Museum of Art in 2015.

Frances Anderton | play video Writer, Producer

  • Anderton is executive producer and host of KCRW’s DnA: Design and Architecture, a weekly radio show that investigates the built environment—listen to a recent episode in which she considers the energy-saving home of the future.
  • Her books include Grand Illusion: A Story of Ambition, and its Limits, on LA’s Bunker Hill, based on a studio she co-taught with Frank Gehry and his partners at USC School of Architecture, and You Are Here, about the work of the late Jon Jerde.
  • Anderton often writes about design and in 2015 curated the exhibition Sink or Swim: Designing for a Sea Change at the Annenberg Space for Photography. In addition to DnA, she also produces To The Point and Which Way, LA? for KCRW.

Peter Shire | play video Artist

  • A native Angeleno, Shire was born in Echo Park. His studio, where he’s worked for the past 40 years, is only four blocks from his childhood home. He talks about this and more in an interview for our second edition of the SPAN Reader.
  • “Cups are the individual as opposed to the group,” says Shire in reference to a body of work dedicated to domestic objects and functional items. Watch Shire prepare an exhibition of his vessels at Lora Schlesinger Gallery.
  • Shire is a graduate of the Chouinard Art Institute and one of the original members of the Memphis Group. His oral history is available from the Archives of American Art.

Panel | play video

A panel discussion on new innovations in entertainment and the small screen, moderated by Lauren Goode, senior technology editor at The Verge. Get to know a bit more about each of the panelists:

  • Jess Brown, director of UX atVICE Media. Since joining VICE in 2015, Brown has led the design of five major initiatives: VICE Video, VICELAND digital products, VICE mobile apps, a site redesign, and a new CMS.
  • Dennis Hwang, visual and interaction design director forNiantic Labs. Hwang studied art at Stanford University and previously worked for Google. As design director at Niantic Labs, Hwang designed the location-based augmented reality game Pokémon Go.

Casey Reas | play video Artist

  • Together with Ben Fry, Reas started Processing—an open source computer programming language and software sketchbook—in 2001. The project began as a way to introduce computer programming and software literacy to the visual arts community. In 2012, they formed the Processing Foundation.
  • Reas is an artist whose software, prints, and installations have been exhibited worldwide.
  • He co-wrote and designed the book 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, which explores how a single line of code—the extremely concise BASIC program for the Commodore 64 inscribed in the title—can be used to consider the phenomenon of creative computing. 10 PRINT was published by MIT Press in 2013.

Dmitri Siegel | play video Sonos

  • Siegel is a creative director, writer, and educator living in Ojai, California. He is VP of Global Brand for the music technology company Sonos, where he oversees creative, brand marketing, and brand experience. He was previously the global executive creative director for Patagonia, and the head of marketing and creative for Urban Outfitters. Take a peek at the first Sonos retail store in Surface, which Siegel describes as recreating “the experience of going over to a friend’s house.”
  • He writes and lectures frequently on design, technology, and digital culture. Recommended reading, Siegel’s essay "Designing Our Own Graves."
  • Siegel is the author of Green Patriot Posters: Images for a New Activism, which was featured in the exhibition Graphic Design: Now in Production.

Hrishikesh Hirwayplay video Song Exploder

Lauren Mackler | play video Curator, Graphic Designer

  • Mackler is a curator and graphic designer. Originally from the east coast, her practice is now based in Highland Park, Los Angeles.
  • She started Public Fiction, an exhibition space and quarterly publication in 2010. Organized around a theme or topic—This Sentence, The Middle Future, Catalogue for Lost (LA)—each Public Fiction exhibition lasts 3 months and culminates in a printed journal designed and produced by Mackler.
  • A recent episode of Artbound profiles new curatorial approaches at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, and includes Public Fiction.

April Greiman | play video Artist

  • Greiman operates Made in Space, a visionary design consultancy and hybrid art practice that operates at the forefront of visual communication. She moved her studio from New York to Los Angeles in the 1970s.
  • She was featured in Apple’s short documentary Mac 30 as a pioneering user of Macintosh technology.
  • Greiman co-owns and operates Miracle Manor Retreat, a hot springs motel located on the southern edge of Joshua Tree National Park—where she enjoys gardening and the desert.

Matthew Sullivanplay video Designer

  • Sullivan runs the Los Angeles-based design firm AQQ; AQQ is an acronym for the Latin phrase “al que quiere” which translates roughly as “for he who wants it.”
  • He makes furniture and objects. With Folkert Gorter, he is working on a project called Observatory, an image streaming platform that aims to service cultural rather than social undertakings.
  • “We live by projection: every action is informed by confidence in our predictive abilities,” writes Sullivan on AQQ. “But there is not an aspect of any progression that remains unchanged from beginning to end.” For more, read "It’s Not Going to Play Out," Sullivan’s collection of notes on trial and error.

Guvenc Ozelplay video Architect, Technologist

  • Founder of Ozel Office, an LA-based interdisciplinary design firm that operates at the intersection of architecture, technology, and media.
  • Ozel studied architecture, sculpture, and philosophy before receiving his Master’s of Architecture from Yale University. Experience Cerebral Hut, a large-scale installation designed by Ozel Office and exhibited at the 2012 Istanbul Design Biennial.
  • Ozel is the Technology Director for IDEAS, an incubator for UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design.

Anne Burdick | play video Writer, Educator

  • Burdick is chair of the Media Design Practices graduate program at Art Center College of Design. The program is focused on the intersection of media and technology, and offers both lab and field tracks.
  • With Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner, and Jeffrey Schnapp, Burdick co-authored Digital_Humanities (MIT Press, 2012), and her essay “Preparing Designers for Jobs That Don’t Exist (Yet)” appears in this year’s SPAN reader.
  • She is design editor of the Electronic Book Review.

BJ Novak | play video Writer, Entrepreneur, Actor

Panel | play video

A panel discussion on design and art in fictional narratives, moderated by Google Design’s Rachel Been. Get to know a little more about each of the panelists:

  • Dave Addey, Founder,Typeset in the Future. Typeset in the Future is a site dedicated to typography and iconography as it appears in sci-fi movies and TV shows. Addey covers classics like Blade Runner, as well as newer fare like MoonWired described his analysis as, “delightfully rambling, but also loaded with observations as witty as they are keen.”
  • Jessie Kawata, Creative Strategist,NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is NASA’s lead R&D center for robotic exploration of the solar system. As creative strategist, Kawata leads a team of JPL engineers and scientists to integrate design-thinking methodologies into mission planning. Watch Kawata explain how design thinking is rocket science.
  • Geoff McFetridge,Champion Studio. McFetridge is a graphic designer and artist based in LA. His design and animation work have been featured in print (see Barbara Bestor’s Bohemian Modern, above), music videos, and film. In collaboration with KK Barrett, he designed the UI at the center of Spike Jonze’s Her, as well as graphics that appear throughout the movie. “I think the idea of the near-future is that you can't predict the pace of technology,” says McFetridge in an interview with Gizmodo.
  • Ash Thorp, Founder,ALT Creative. Thorp is a designer and creative director whose multimedia work spans print and film. The creator of UI graphics for Ender’s Game and Total Recall, Thorp has also provided design direction and concept designs for SpectrePerson of InterestPrometheusX-Men First Class, and many more games and films. With co-host Andrew Hawryluk, he created The Collective Podcast in 2013.


The best way for guests to channel all the inspiration from SPAN, was to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty (at least we think so). Workshops weren't filmed, but you can still get to know each of our workshop leaders:

  • Designing Type with Jeremy Mickel Jeremy Mickel runs MCKL, a Los Angeles-based type foundry and design studio. You might recognize Nutcase, a custom font he designed for, or his recent work for Etsy.
  • Designing by Hand and Eye with Jim Tolpin and George Walker Jim Tolpin and George Walker promote the benefits of mastering proportion and recapturing the intuitive language of pre-industrial artist and craftsmen through their workshops, classes, and books. For a designing by hand and eye primer, watch this video.
  • Design Writing Workshop with Amber Bravo, Bryn Smith, and Alissa Walker Google Design's Amber Bravo and Bryn Smith team up with Curbed Urbanism Editor Alissa Walker (see morning session, above) to workshop and discuss crafting design stories for greater reach and impact.