Recap: Core 77 Conference

Designers, makers and innovators from multiple disciplines got together on June 19th for a full day of panels and discussion at the first Core 77 Conference. We’re thrilled that Core 77 chose Brooklyn for their inaugural conference, centered around Object Culture.

Core 77 Conference 2014

We had a truly fantastic time. We were so inspired by the amazing talent and the experiences they shared, in subjects ranging from wearable technology to sustainable global development. We left the conference suffering from a bit of MDD, or Multiple Discipline Disorder – term coined by panelist Marta Salas-Porras of Obscura Digital. Here are just a few highlights of our day at #Core77Con.

Dong-Ping Wong | + Pool

+ Pool
What started as an idea scribbled on a napkin may soon become a mind-blowing reality on the East River. The + Pool is the World’s first water-filtering floating pool, set to land by the Brooklyn Bridge in 2016 if all goes according to plan. Co-founder Dong-Ping Wong walked us through the process of the project, from their successful Kickstarter campaigns (+ Pool is one of the world’s largest crowd-funded civil projects) to reshaping the way the city’s government defines water. Dong-Ping said it took him a while to realize the East River was actually a river, not just “a band between Manhattan and Brooklyn“. Which may sound silly, but I think it’s true for many people. + Pool will not just be an incredibly cool addition to the Dumbo waterfront, but it will also help New Yorkers get closer to the water that surrounds our city.

Carla Diana | Leo the Maker Prince

Leo The Maker Prince | Carla Diana
Brooklynite Carla Diana talked about bringing meaning to objects through storytelling. She argued that stories are reality + emotion, and through them we can understand new technologies and establish an emotional connection that makes us ‘care enough’ to try them. Carla’s obsession with 3D printing was the seed for her book, Leo the Maker Prince. The book follows the stories of many 3D printing robots and makers around Brooklyn as a way of illustrating different applications for this technology. My older son Nico has been mesmerized with 3D printers since talked about them in Art class (because that’s what Art class in Kindergarten looks like nowadays, whoa!), and we’ve been reading the book non-stop. We are both particularly enchanted with the character in the book that creates an edible chess set, with 3D-printed cheese pieces and cracker tiles.

Panel | Cult of the Bike

Project Aura
The discussion revolved around cycling history, bike sharing, and the bicycle’s place in culture. Michel Dallaire, Montréal-based designer and inventor, had a lot to share from his experience developing Citi Bike, the bike sharing system in place in NYC (and in other cities around the world under a different name). Ethan Frier, industrial designer and co-founder of Project Aura, brought up safety and cultural issues, with contrasting examples from his trips to the Netherlands and Belgium, where cyclists are treated slightly better than in the streets of Brooklyn. Edward Albert, sociologist, professor and cycling expert, talked about cycling through history – and reminded everyone that the question is not if you’re going to fall, but when you’re going to fall. Buckle up those helmets!

Allan Chochinov | The Order of Things

(photo via Core 77)
Core 77 partner Allan Chochinov led a great talk that had a lot of illustrative examples and a little bit of stand-up comedy. We walked through many examples that demonstrated the importance of the sequence in which we’re introduced to new products and services. We also discussed the blurry line between good and evil in design. An example that crossed the line to the evil side and kept running (and that you must see) is the Bug-A-Salt.

Casey Neistat | Filmmaker

From his days as a very young dad working as a dishwasher to his current career as a filmmaker, whose online films have been viewed over 60 million times in the last three years, Casey Neistat had a lot of inspiring (and hilarious) stories to tell. His Make it Count campaign for Nike is a testament that sometimes breaking the rules, being authentic and trusting your gut can pay off big. It also got me wanting to head over to JFK and jet off somewhere. For now, I’ll make do with daydreaming.

The team at Core 77 put together an impeccable event. We loved to see our own neighborhood represented, with delicious lunch options catered by Windsor Terrace’s Brooklyn Commune. Autodesk had a neat little exhibit of objects created with their algorithmic technology. Boom generously gifted conference attendees one of their products. We loved being back at 501 Union, the venue of our Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar last December. Thanks to Core 77 for putting together such a special day – we can’t wait to see what you guys plan for next year!

I’m not one for selfies, but in good company I’ll make an exception. Me and my partner in crime, Sam Zhao.