XLAB by SEGD – Conference Highlights

By Miguel Cardenas, Senior Design Associate, LHSA+DP


Connecting People to Place is really what Experience Design is all about!

That is precisely what made this year’s XLab conference stand out from that of previous years.


Last Fall I represented SKOLNICK Architecture + Design Partnership at the XLab conference organized by SEGD at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NY. Although I’ve attended in the past, this time I felt compelled to write about my experience since many aspects of what was presented have recently impacted and influenced our profession’s views towards design and how we approach projects on a variety of levels.


Although always interesting and engaging, what I felt made XLab different this year is that rather than just having speakers simply present their work or having technology companies push their latest products and gadgets, this time, SEGD did a great job of putting together a widely varied group of speakers who intricately wove their presentations into the conference’s theme of “Connecting People to Place” – which is really what is at the core of what we should all strive for in our profession.


Speakers explored the theme from a variety of angles, ranging from theoretical city planning approaches to very concrete evocative applications used to solve everyday design problems. It was interesting to see how far technology has evolved and has helped to put into practice concrete applications of many ideas that were just abstract, theoretical and academic constructs not too long ago. The idea of “mapping” data to aid the design process was one of these concepts made real in the development of the new Google headquarters in California, presented at the conference by Samuel Stubblefield from NBBJ Studio 07.


I especially appreciated the sensitive and artistic approaches towards interactive environmental lighting presented by Meejin Yoon (MIT/My Studio) as illustrated in her light installation at the base of the Acropolis in Greece and in her “Light Drift” project along the Charles River.



The work of David Benjamin, both his own and his collaborations with Columbia University’s “Living Architecture Lab,” is some of the most innovative and visionary work incorporating the built environment that I have witnessed in a very long time.


Although a bit “out there” and very theoretical at present, his theories and experiments of combining emerging technologies, biological concepts, communication between the built environment and its inhabitants and “prototyping,” pushes the design envelope into a new inspirational and hopeful frontier. Although the current results of this work seem to be small in scale, the thought process which guides them appears to have endless potential applications and possibility.


Congratulations to SEGD for organizing such an informative, well-balanced and inspiring conference – can’t wait until the next one!


Check out SEGD’s event calendar here