IDSA'd we do?

G’morning everyone,

Early in the game, I know there was some frustration & negative commentary around the IDSA Northeast District Conference & IDSA in general. I had a large part in planning the conference, & want to make sure that it only improves next year. I’m curious to know what feedback you have on the content, logistics, events, etc. & would love to hear any suggestions you might offer up for the next time around.

Thank you to everyone who attended, and have a great week!

Claire Suntrup


Ok…So I have been meaning to put a post up here about the conference sense Sunday. All in all I think you guys did a great job. I would like to say thanks to the Pensa team and everyone else that was involved. I think there were some great speaker, I met a lot of great people and the parties in NYC were fantastic. I love the Sesame Street Keynote, Sunmee Kim and Katherine Wakid talk about design research was also great. I did not have a chance to make it over to the other conference, but from the schedule it looked to have some great speakers.

The only negative feedback I would give is that the location was a bit off. The hotel, conference and the events were too far away from each other. I believe this may have hurt you when it came to attendance. Also Kean was a beautiful campus, but the facilities that the conference was being held in were much like a high school café which was bit uncomfortable and hard to engage the stage.

I will also throw out a challenge for you guys for next year. I noticed a much larger number of students to pros at this conference. I know this is common, but this one seemed to be much more than normal. My challenge is how do we get more pros involved? I ask this because 1) it will help the students get more exposure, and 2) it will allow us pros to do more networking. Just a thought.

Like I mentioned before, all in all you guys put on a great conference. I can’t wait for next year.

I think regional conferences are naturally more attended by students simply because the price and locale is much easier - whereas the national conference is the reverse. I think many people will not pay for both the district and national conference, so they choose the bigger event.

Yeah, that’s been the challenge for years. I think one way to look at it is that going to the District conference is the way you give back to the students (you remember when you were a student, don’t you?). I remember how desperate I was to get any sort of professional criticism from anyone other than my classmates, my teacher or my parents :slight_smile:.

Plus, I really get energized talking to the students, and if you don’t visit a local design school or guest lecture on a regular basis, this might be your one opportunity to connect with some of the folks you’ll end up hiring one day.

We’ve been talking about pushing the District events towards more advanced content for professionals with the notion that the students would attend anyway, buy I think we need to get more feedback to figure out what the right balance is. We will be sending out surveys to the attendees of all of the District conferences once they’re all complete (the staff is still running around helping with the last two).



I thought the NED was excellent. Being a WestCoast guy it’s the first time I’ve been to a NED, but I was impressed. The speakers were great. Radicalmedia was totally awesome (I’ve already checked out the site) and the guy from was fabulous also (I’m hoping he’ll speak at the Portland conference in Aug).

So, super job, Claire. And, BTW, it was nice meeting you.

Have to agree with Justin about the facilities, but budgets being what they are…! There is a long running debate about having District conferences at schools vs hotels. The CW is that pros don’t like going to conferences at schools (maybe bad memories? ) but hotels are, of course, more expensive. I wonder which way students lean? They probably like the idea of having a conf at a hotel (feels more grownup?). If the whole NED had been in the auditorium where RadicalMedia presented it would have a had a nicer vibe.


Hey guys,
Thanks for the feedback. Having organized the event, I also had the same feedback for ourselves. The venue logistics were a bit tough and need to be simpler, and the ratio of students/pro needs to be much better. It helps everyone. These are on the top of the agenda for next year’s NED c onf.
Thanks to all for coming and see you all next year.

Marco Perry

I agree with much of what has already been said. There were several really great speakers and the turn out seemed quite strong. However the location logistics were really very tough; I ended up missing ECCO on Friday and most of the party at Smart Design on Saturday because I was at the mercy of NJ Transit for those trips.

I would add one other thing: the portfolio review. It seemed very short and very chaotic. At other conferences (Boston 09, Charlotte 10) the format was more formal and there was more than a single hour-long session. Students would get about 10 minutes with a professional at a table and other students could listen in at the same time. This session was so loud, so fast, and so chaotic that the people I spoke with claimed they didn’t actually get much out of it. It didn’t really help that there was a networking event going on at the same time that seemed to pull many professionals away from looking at portfolios. The food, the parties, the giveaways, the speakers…those are all great, but the real meat and potatoes for students attending the district conferences is the face time and interaction with professionals. Especially the review time.

This may be off topic in relation to the NE conference - but to Pedro’s point about portfolio reviews.

One thing that seems to happen fairly often from what I remember is portfolio reviews are scheduled the same time as another talk, and usually there are multiple review sessions as a result, but in regards to this years Southern conference, I know there were multiple review sessions, but one was Sunday morning when I imagine most people had already left or were packing up to check out.

It seems like rather then having multiple sessions if you held one session with NO concurrent lectures (put out coffee and snacks for people who want to socialize) it would better encourage professional participation in the portfolio reviews, and wouldn’t make those who reviewed feel like they were missing valuable content.