SPAN 2015: New York

Conversations about design and technology

Thanks to everyone who joined us for SPAN NYC on October 29, 2015! Check out highlights from the day below, and be sure to check out our updates from SPAN London.


Doors Open



Opening Keynote / Main Room

Alex Goldman & PJ Vogt, Reply All

Alex Goldman & PJ Vogt will treat us to a live performance from their popular podcast, Reply All, and share some lessons learned in creating stories about how people shape the internet, and the internet shapes people.



Session 1

Workshops, Panels, and Talks


Panel / Room 1

Design Tools

Khoi Vinh of and Adobe will bring his expertise on design tools to a panel discussion with Paul Colton of Pixate, Adam Debreczeni of Form, Daniel Hooper of Principle, Clark Valberg of InVision, and Andrew Pouliot of Origami.


Talk / Room 2

Erica Gorochow, PepRally

Fresh off a residency at the New Museum’s NEW INC, Erica Gorochow will share some of her work and explores the ways in which animators can use motion design in technically sophisticated ways.


Workshop / Room 3

Handmade Computers

Taeyoon Choi will lead a workshop about putting the personal and the poetic back into the tech products we use everyday through making our own devices.


Talk / Room 4

Nick Benson, The John Stevens Shop

Nick Benson, a third-generation stone carver and MacArthur Fellow, knows first-hand what it means to practice an ancient form of typography in the digital age. Join us for a presentation of his work and reflections on what we can learn from working in a material that stands the test of time.



Served at the venue



Keynote / Main Room

Keller Easterling & Geoff Manaugh

Architect and author Keller Easterling and writer Geoff Manaugh will explore the fringes of our built environment and discuss what unexplored peripheries can teach us about our design process.



Session 2

Workshops, Panels, and Talks


Talk / Room 1

Jon Wiley, Google

Google's Jon Wiley will talk about the challenge of designing for a multi-device future where virtual reality is just the opening act in a future of ubiquitous computing, where anything and everything can become software. Wiley will discuss ways in which designers can prepare themselves to tackle these challenges and be major agents of change.


Workshop / Room 2

Design Collaboration

Adam Debreczeni, Owen Otto, and Matthew Levine have been studying how designers collaborate in order to build better design tools. In this interactive workshop, they’ll discuss common challenges that designers face along with practices you can apply to redesign to your workflow.


Workshop / Room 3

Human-Centered Design

Ektaa Aggarwal, creative director of, will lead a design workshop on designing for social change. Participants will be able to apply Human Centered Design principles to a case study involving women’s reproductive rights in rural Africa.


Talk / Room 4

Julia Zeltser, Hyperakt

As a cofounder of Hyperakt, Julia Zeltser has built a design agency that strives to take risks and push the boundaries of entrepreneurship while remaining a sustainable design business. Through stories of data visualizations, logo design, and self-initiated projects, Julia will illustrate how she has learned to stay nimble and push creativity further in her studio practice.


Coffee Break




Paula Matthusen

What does a neighborhood sound like? Composer Paula Matthusen will debut an original piece based on her field recordings from our favorite neighborhood landmark, the High Line.



Session 3

Workshops, Panels, and Talks


Panel / Room 1

Designing for New Products

Google Ventures will host a panel discussing the the art and practice of innovating for new products with Leland Rechis of Etsy, Liz Danzico of NPR, Kim Bost of Cover, and Katie Dill of Airbnb.


Talk / Room 2

John Harwood, University of Toronto

In The Interface architectural historian John Harwood’s book offers a fascinating account of how a group of modern designers defined, aestheticized, and scaled the look of computing. For this talk he’ll take their line of thinking one step further by exploring the ways in which everyday objects, like chairs, can teach us important lessons about interaction design.


Workshop / Room 3

Design Writing

Writing is hard, but getting people to read and engage with your writing can be even harder. Join us for a workshop focused on crafting design stories to have greater reach and impact. Kate Lee of Medium will introduce and lead the session with guest critics including SPAN keynote speaker and author Paul Ford, Amber Bravo of Google, Aileen Kwun of Dwell, and Nicola Twilley of The New Yorker.


Talk / Room 4

Lance Wyman

Lance Wyman's design for the ’68 Olympics has gone down in the record books as one of the game's greatest identity systems. He also leads a thriving practice designing wayfinding systems for transportation and cultural projects, including the Mexico City Metro, the Washington D.C. metro, and the National Zoo, among many others. He lives and works in New York City.



Closing Keynote / Main Room

Paul Ford

Paul Ford, author of Bloomberg Businessweek’s highly acclaimed cover story “What Is Code?,” will offer a counterintuitive look at a subject that is just as elusive: the nature of talent.




DJ set by Nancy Whang

The best way to end the day: a DJ set with Nancy Whang of The Juan MacLean and LCD Soundsystem. The party ends at 8:00 PM.


All day


Project No. 8 and Printed Matter with Library of the Printed Web

Two NYC design institutions will curate exclusive pop-ups in our cafe.

Highline Stages Chelsea

440 W 15th St New York, NY 10011


14th St [A, C, E] 8th Ave [L]


Who can attend SPAN?

SPAN is targeted to leaders in the design community. Due to limited capacity, the event is invite-only. To stay updated on future events, follow us on Google+ and Twitter.


How can I register for the event?

If you received an invitation from Google, follow the link to access the registration form and confirm your attendance. Please be sure to use the email address from which you received the invitation to register.


When does registration close?

Registration for SPAN NYC will close on October 20, 2015.


Can I edit my registration after I’ve submitted it?

No. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to edit your registration form after you’ve submitted it, but you can email any changes directly to


I already registered but am unable to attend. Can someone else attend on my behalf?

If you can’t attend the conference, you are able to cancel your registration using the form. To do so, go to the confirmation email you received and click the link to get back to the registration form. To nominate someone else to attend, please use the link in the original invitation email to suggest them for SPAN.


How do I get to the venue?

Highline Stages is close to the 14th St. MTA subway stops for the A,C, E, and F trains.


Where will the happy hour be held?

The party will be hosted in the same space as the event and will start immediately after the last session of the day.


Why have you renamed the conference from FORM to SPAN?

FORM was our first-ever design conference. As an inaugural event, we were keen to see how programming would be received and take shape. This year we’re redoubling our efforts and expanding our design conference to two cities—New York and London. Renaming the conference to SPAN acknowledges the ways in which our efforts have evolved and grown, as well as our goal to bridge the conversation between makers and thinkers working in design and technology today.


Registration Terms and Conditions

Photographs and/or videos taken at SPAN by Google, or others on behalf of Google, may include your image or likeness. You agree that Google may use such photographs and/or video for any purpose without compensation to you.


Anti-harassment policy

Google is dedicated to providing a harassment-free event experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, age, race, national identity, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of event participants in any form. All attendees must abide by our anti-harassment policy.


Conduct Policy

Google reserves the right to refuse admittance to, or remove any person from SPAN (including future SPAN events) at any time in its sole discretion. This includes but is not limited to attendees behaving in a disorderly manner or failing to comply with the terms and conditions herein.