IA Innovation Design Summit 26 – 28 September 2017.

The last month was extremely busy. In-between all of our visitors from South Africa, I also went to San Francisco for a company event called the Innovation Design Summit. The Summit was arranged as a prize for a firm-wide IA internal competition on Innovation. I entered under the detail category, and won the prize for the most innovative detail.

On Tuesday the 26th of September, I set out to Heathrow, starting one of the longest days I’ve had in years. The ten-hour flight took off from London just after 14:00, landing in San Francisco just after 17:00. With an eight-hour time difference, it’s enough to throw off anyone’s internal clock.

I was quite tired when I arrived in San Francisco, but the day was far from over. I took an Uber into the city center to our ‘Mansion’. We stayed at 1000 Factory Mansions, an old building converted into accommodation. After arriving at the Mansion, I had some time to freshen up, and then went to meet the rest of the innovation team for drinks and dinner.

In total, we were eight winners coming from our Seattle, Orange County, New York and then of course, the London office. We started the evening with a small introduction and a ‘peach-and-a-pip’ (highlight and lowlight) from each of us, covering the last couple of months . It was very interesting to dive into the minds of my colleagues and to get a closer look at their daily challenges and successes.

At 23:00 (07:00 UK time), I finally said good night before (finally) going to bed. Back in my room, I quickly gave Andre a call to say ‘hi’ before he heads to work as it was already Wednesday morning in London.

On Wednesday, we started the day with breakfast and a Ted talk by Eric Corey Freed on growing architecture. It was a very interesting take on one of the possible ways forward for green buildings – an excellent way to start the conversation between us all.

From here, we visited the IA San Francisco office and got to spend some time with our founder, David Mourning. David and Aaron Wong, the design director for San Francisco, chaired a design charette conversation on innovation in design. We had various discussions on innovation, with several inspiring thoughts from my colleagues, and newly found mentors. Again, my highlight was the glimpse into our other offices, as well as what interesting ways other designers communicate and challenge their own work.

We also visited the 61st floor of the brand new Salesforce Tower building in down town San Francisco. The site was opened to us for a special visit, and breathtaking, unobstructed views of the bay. To end off the day, we had cocktails with the leaders from all our offices, followed by a dinner in a theater that plays old movies in the background.

On the Thursday, we all had breakfast together, discovered our spirit animals (I am a shark by the way) and visited SF MOMA. Just before lunch, I headed back to the airport to catch my flight back to Heathrow.

It was a whirlwind trip of less than 48 hours to the States. It was exhausting. It was exciting. It was fun. It was inspirational. And it was fantastic for my career.

With love,

Elaine