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This spring, our CEO and Art Director had the opportunity to take a little hiatus from the other Revelers (much appreciated I’m sure) for a fun week in the Windy City to attend HOW Design Live. HOW is the largest – and quite honestly the best – gathering of creative professionals in the country. The conference offers the chance to gain creative inspiration and rekindle the passion needed to deliver excellent work while also offering a variety of sessions of take-home knowledge for individuals and organizations. All of this magic happens in a variety of sessions, both large and small, led by bright thinkers and industry leaders extraordinaire.

After speaking with our HOW travelers Nicole and Amanda before and after the trip, it was apparent how their overall expectation changed. Their expectations for the conference were not out of the ordinary – fly to Chicago, attend some educational lectures and seminars, jot down some notes, return to Springfield having gained a little knowledge. Instead, what they came home with was so much more. The design-heroes and brand leaders leading these “lectures” were actually story tellers that used their experiences to inspire HOW attendees. Our Revelers were inspired by hearing their tales and experiences and found ways their advice could apply to our own agency.

So who were these inspiring souls? Nicole and Amanda listed the following as their Top 5 for the week:

1.    Simon Sinek

Author, leadership-expert, and second most watched TED talk speaker of all time, Sinek taught HOW attendees the ways in which leaders and organizations can inspire people. His seminar “Leaders Eat Last” shared his bold goal of building a world in which a vast majority of people go home everyday feeling fulfilled by their work and both Nicole and Amanda were big fans of this message.

2.    Jessica Walsh

As the partner at a New York based design studio, Walsh spoke on her recent experiment and book 40 Days of Dating (also a blog which you can visit here). Nicole loved the seminar so much, not only did she purchase the book, but chose to forgo a nap and finished the book in a matter of hours.

3.    Aaron Draplin

The sole proprietor of his own design company, Draplin has made stuff for companies of all sizes and prides himself on the highest quality craftsmanship. His seminars, “Mobile to Desktop” and “Tall Tales of a Large Man,” really stuck out to our Art Director, Amanda.

4.    Mimi Valdés

As the Chief Creative Officer for i am OTHER, her background in journalism gives her a passion for creating content. Her belief in the art of storytelling to entertain, educate and inspire was evident in her keynote speech. 

5.    Matteo Bologna

The Founder and Creative Director at a NYC based branding agency, Bologna has won awards for his designs. His session “God is in the Kerning” was informative and motivational.

Aside from the list of amazing speakers and sessions to attend, HOW Design Live had over 65 vendor booths for attendees to visit. The following were our Revel travelers favorite booths (may or not be because of the free stuff):

  1. Sappi North America – paper solutions
  2. French Paper – paper made with 100% renewable electricity
  3. MOO – online print and design company

But, let’s be honest, our Revelers did not travel over 500 miles to Chicago for all work and no play. Here are a few of their favorite hot spots from the city:

Architectural Riverboat Tour: “Definitely a different perspective of the city!” –Nicole

Millennium Park & The Bean (aka Cloud Gate): “It was fun to walk around and the patio café there was great.” –Amanda

Eataly: Received a 10 from both travelers for its range of Italian eateries & food markets.

When asked if they would attend HOW Design Live again or recommend it to a fellow creative, both Nicole and Amanda said ‘yes’ but not without some words of the wise:

  • You must purchase the “big ticket” to HOW that includes all five days with audio and video from the week (in case you miss a session or need to slow down to breath for a minute after a packed week). Picking the package with just two days does not give the same experience.
  • Look into the backgrounds and experiences of the speakers before choosing which sessions to attend. Just because the title is intriguing does not mean the speaker is.
  •  Know your transportation options ahead of time…Speaking from experience, but that’s another story for another time.
  • Do not leave the city without Garrett's Popcorn or you will regret it. 
  • It’s okay to use your hotel trash can as an ice bucket for wine after a long day. Girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, am I right?

Have additional questions about HOW Design Live, Chicago, or anything really – feel free to comment here or you can shoot us an email message or phone call.

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