Impressions From SEGD Xlab

November 12, 2015 by Dave Haynes


A few people have asked me directly or by email what I thought of Xlab this year, which made me realize I didn’t really write about the event that ran a week ago in New York.

It was the fifth iteration of an event developed by the Society for Experiential Graphic Design, or the less involved handle SEGD. It brings together some of the leading thinkers and doers in the area of connecting people with places through interesting, relevant and ideally useful experiences.

That means everything from kiosks on sidewalks to immersive retail, museums and corporate spaces.

What I like about the day is the organization by topic (I moderated a panel on transforming retail) and the rapid fire set of presentations by expert-level people, many talking about the stuff they’ve done or see coming.

You get a look inside some of the most interesting visual projects happening out there, and the thinking and plans behind ones that are gaining a lot of attention, like the Civiq plan to get 10,000 interactive stations live on the sidewalks of New York’s five boroughs.

I also like how the day is not just a rotation of experiential agency people doing show and tell, and providing advice. A couple of sessions I really enjoyed, and learned from, featured Adafruit’s Becky Stern talking about the hacker/DIY movement in wearables and Jared Ficklin of argodesign providing a fun, loopy and frank look at where interactive tech is going.

I also particularly liked what Darren David of Stimulant had to say …

Is it the sort of thing you should go to? Yes, but you need to question your motives first.

This is an education day. You go to learn, get ideas and be inspired. If your gig sees you getting into discussions with colleagues and clients that are framed around NOT wanting to do the same old thing, Xlab is in your wheelhouse.

If you go to events primarily to network and business prospect, not so much. Your mission will be challenged. I get a sense the large crowd that fills the host theater is filled more by the people who think about, advise and do these projects, and not the people who issue the Purchase Orders. There is networking time, but the theater lobby is loud and crammed, and the jammed post-event mixer at a bar was louder than an F-18 at takeoff. That’s my native habitat and I had to get outta there.

The event will be back in New York next fall, running in late October.

Here’s SEGD’s own roundup on the day

And here’s the take from Gail at DailyDOOH …


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