GRAVITY FREE 2012, the world's only multidisciplinary design conference, will present twenty world-class designers, each speaking on a different design discipline, May 1-2, 2012, at Venue SIX10 at the Spertus Institute, Chicago.
GRAVITY FREE is a two-day conversation with the world's most inspiring design thinkers and doers. This world-class event is designed to break attendees out of their daily routine of familiar ideas, and instead connect them with the most diverse and fearless designers who are changing the way we see the world.
This year's theme – "Outlaws and Icons" – is a riveting program of twenty of the world's most fearless designers whose passion and personal vision takes them outside convention – where breaking the rules often produces breathtaking results. No surprise: Outlaws often become icons.
The first fifteen of twenty speakers have been announced:
IRIS VAN HERPEN - FASHION DESIGNER
"Ladies and gentleman, I think we just found our next fashion legend. HO. LY. SHlT," wrote one blogger after viewing 27-year-old Dutch fashion designer, Iris van Herpen's collection, "Capriole," at the 2011 Paris Haute Couture show. Van Herpen, a protégé of Alexander McQueen, is leading the outer limits of fashion – combining rapid-prototyping (3-D printing) and traditional sewing into garments that make Lady Gaga and Bjork's styles look pedestrian.
ALEX LIEU - ARTIFICIAL REALITY GAME DESIGNER
Alex Lieu is a global leader in the design of mind-bending alternative reality games (ARGs) with unmatched power to pull participants into virtual Narnias of multimedia labyrinths. His ARG that launched Nine Inch Nails' album "Year Zero" won the Cyber Grand Prix award at Cannes International Advertising Festival.
RAFAEL DE CARDENAS - INTERIOR DESIGNER
Super-saturated, candy-coated colors. Stark geometric patterns. These are the loud interiors that Rafael de Cardenas designs. His philosophy: concept over strategy, cosmopolitan over genrespecific, and atmosphere over static. "I never explicitly set out to pursue any one thing," says Cardenas. He is a former menswear designer for Calvin Klein and an architect (his design for a rebuild of the World Trade Center was a top-six finalist). Today, his most recent venture is a line of bold, chromatic furniture.
JAMES VICTORE - GRAPHIC DESIGNER
James Victore is hell-bent on world domination – via graphic design, that is. Known for his use of handwriting and messy scribbles in lieu of clean typography, Victore's most famous piece is a poster depicting racism in a disturbing game of hangman. "My goal in work, as in life, is not only to think and act creatively, but to be brave," Victore says.
JAMES RAMSEY - URBANIST
You've heard of New York City's High Line, a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan's West Side. James Ramsey is the intrepid visionary behind the Delancey Underground project – better known as the Low Line – an imaginative plan to transform a 60,000-square-foot underground railway terminal into a subterranean park for New Yorkers in the Lower East Side.
JAVIER MARISCAL - MULTIDISCIPLINARY DESIGNER
A multidisciplinary maverick of design, Javier Mariscal can excel in almost any medium including illustration, sculpture, graphic design, interior design, furniture design, and animation. He is a recipient of the National Design Prize of the Spanish Department of Industry.
GEORGE LOIS - ART DIRECTOR/MAGAZINE DESIGNER
The highly controversial covers of 92 Esquire magazines which George Lois designed are considered "the most provocative in the history of the magazine industry."
THÉRÈSE DEPREZ - PRODUCTION DESIGNER
Highly acclaimed production designer Thérèse DePrez won top honors from the Art Directors Guild for her work on the deliciously sinister 2010 film, "Black Swan". Ask her about her scrapbooks of research ideas.
JAY PARKINSON, MD - HEALTH CARE DESIGNER
Jay Parkinson is a rebel mutant: one part doctor, one part tech innovator/designer, and one part salesman. Newsweek says, "The sum of those parts have made Parkinson the face of a new kind of health care."
MARGIE RUDDICK - LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT
A 2011 Cooper-Hewitt finalist, Margie Ruddick "designs with her feet," an approach that allows her to marry ecology and culture, urban infrastructure and art with award-winning results.
GORDON GILL - ARCHITECT
Yes, size matters. Gordon Gill designed the tallest skyscraper in the world, Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia, a structure that reaches new heights in architectural innovation, and its sustainability design is even more impressive.
CHIP KIDD - BOOK COVER DESIGNER
He's been called an "inky colossus" and a "design demigod." Chip Kidd's book-jacket designs have cleaved a wide divide between the so-so and the so-freaking-cool.
KYLE COOPER - MOTION DESIGNER
Welcome to the dark world of Kyle Cooper, the motion-design genius who created the title sequence to the film "Seven" and, to quote Details magazine, "single-handedly revitalized the main title sequence as an art form."
BRIAN COLLINS - BRAND & EXPERIENCE DESIGNER
Brian Collins is a design guru and branding genius who stands firm in his belief that today, design-driven brand and product experiences should come first. Advertising comes later, if at all.
KARSTEN SCHMIDT - COMPUTATIONAL DESIGNER
Based in London, this German-born designer has a trans-disciplinary way of working – merging computer code, design, art, and craft skills to engage in a variety of digital and hands-on projects.
Past speakers at GRAVITY FREE design conferences have included: Grant Achatz, Deborah Adler, Dana Arnett, Andrew Ashton, Marian Bantjes, Jake Barton, Linda Batwin, Henry Beer, Bryan Berg, Lars Uwe Bleher, Stephen Brown, Jason Bruges, Paul Budnitz, Homaro Cantu, Matt Chambers, Aldo Cibic, Luigi Colani, Chip Conley, Richard Costello, Rob Delamater, Jamie Drake, Karin Fong, Mark Gardner, Ryan Genz, Gai Gherardi, Jim Gilmore, Stefano Giovannoni, Jess Gonchor, Bob Gruen, Jonathan Harris, Tom Hennes, Kit Hinrichs, Bjarke Ingels, Theo Jansen, Freddy Justen, Martin Kastner, Michelle Kaufmann, Larry Keeley, Rod Keenan, Chip Kidd, Yaron Kopel, Jeff Kuo, Janne Kyttanen, Franco Lodato, Eva Maddox, Reuben Margolin, Mitchell Mauk, Ingo Maurer, Charlie McMillan, Nancy McMillan, Barbara McReynolds, Jeannine Claudia Oppewall, Ron Pompei, Karim Rashid, Francesca Rosella, Stefan Sagmeister, Jennifer Siegal, Robin Silvestri, Cameron Sinclair, Marty Smith, Frank Soltis, Frank Stephenson, Deborah Sussman, Ari 't Hart, Phillip R. Tiongson, Nico Ueberholz, Rick Valicenti, Michael Vanderbyl, Tucker Viemeister, Massimo Vignelli, Arturo Vittori, Moritz Waldemeyer, Charles White, Marcel Wilson, Richard Saul Wurman, and Joe Zenas.
Registration for GRAVITY FREE 2012 includes access to all on-stage speaker talks, all close-up speaker-hosted roundtables, plus access to all receptions and off-site events.
GRAVITY FREE will be held at the Spertus Institute in Chicago, founded in 1924 and newly renovated in 2007. This venue is a mixed-use program facility containing exhibition galleries, a library, a 400-seat multi-use auditorium, and a smattering of classrooms. The bold sculptural details make the institution truly modern, yet it has a timeless quality that has helped to put Chicago on the architectural map.
The James Chicago is the official hotel of GRAVITY FREE 2012. A special rate of $219 is available until March 30.