The Annual Design Conference
Harvard Graduate School of Design
February 23-24, 2018

Location Google Map link

Harvard Graduate School of Design
48 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA 02138


February 23-24, 2018

To design is to influence the experience of individuals, the fabric of communities, the structure of organizations, and the dynamics of systems.

At the sixth-annual HarvardxDesign conference, we will convene today’s leading thinkers and doers to explore design’s influence across these four scales.

Tickets on sale now

Thank You to Our Diamond Sponsor

Thank You To Our Donor

J. W. Kaempfer, Jr.

MBA ’71

Strategic Partner

Friday, February 23




Opening Keynote

Sairah Ashman

Wolff Olins

Sairah Ashman is Global CEO at creative consultancy Wolff Olins. She leads business direction and performance in partnership with local Managing Principals. Wolff Olins has 3 global hubs in London, New York and San Francisco and is part of the Omnicom group. She is an alumna of Harvard Business School and Goldsmiths University of London, an active supporter of The House of St Barnabas (working to break the cycle of homelessness) and a regular TEDx host and speaker.

Cynthia Pratomo

Wolff Olins

Cynthia is Creative Director of Wolff Olins New York, where she leads the design team in brand creation, experience and setting the course for design in NY. Her career has spanned disciplines across branding, advertising, packaging and retail display to web and exhibition design. She has worked with a diverse list of clients including Google, CoverGirl, Converse, Sonos, Sally Hansen, Marriott, Rémy Martin and Columbia University. A graduate of the Hunter College Masters in Art History, she is also a professor of design at Pratt Institute.


Evening Mixer

Saturday, February 24


Registration + Breakfast





Ida Benedetto


Ida C. Benedetto is an experience designer who sparks new insight through adventure and play. Her recent research outlines the design of transformative social experiences by comparing sex parties, funerals, and wilderness trips. Her work has been featured in Businessweek, The New York Times, Fast Company, NPR, and The New Yorker. She is currently a senior designer at SYPartners in New York City.

Louis Marino


Louis is a multi-disciplinary creative with a track-record for creating successful human centered campaigns, environments and experiences. He has worked with the most recognizable brands (and people) in the world as well as launching new ones. He has over 20 years experience in the Entertainment, Spirits, Sports, Telecommunications, and Consumer Electronics industries. Brands include: Google, NIKE, Diageo, Verizon, Beats By Dre, Samsung, Island DefJam, Sean Combs Enterprises.

Shannon O'Malley


Shannon earned her PhD in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Waterloo where she studied the role of attention and visual processing. At BEworks, Shannon applies her expertise to experiment design and advanced statistical analysis challenges. She uses insights from the behavioral sciences to guide online acquisition, cross-platform marketing initiatives, and various behavioural interventions.

Emily Segal

Nemesis Global

Emily Segal is an artist, writer, and trend forecaster. She founded the art collective and trend forecasting group K-HOLE, and is currently the director of Nemesis, a think tank for cultural strategy based in Berlin, Helsinki, and NYC.

Moderated by Christine Mungai

Africapedia, Nieman Foundation

Based in Nairobi, Christine Mungai is the editor of Africapedia, a web publication that teases insights from data on key trends and major issues in the news in Africa. Over the past eight years, she has reported on subjects as diverse as politics, security, business, culture and the arts, all from a pan-African, and sometimes irreverent, perspective.



Louise Bernard

Obama Foundation

Louise Bernard is the founding Director of the Museum of the Obama Presidential Center. Bernard was formerly Director of Exhibitions at the New York Public Library. As a Senior Content Developer and Interpretive Planner in the New York office of the museum design firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates, she worked on the design team that developed the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, along with other international projects. Bernard received her Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale.

Bryan C. Lee

Colloqate Design

Bryan is a Designer and Design Justice Advocate. He is the founder/Director of Colloqate Design, a nonprofit multidisciplinary design practice dedicated to expanding community access to design and creating spaces of racial, social and cultural equity. Bryan is the founding organizer of the Design Justice Platform and organized the Design As Protest: National day of Action. Leads two award-winning architecture + design programs for high school students. Noted keynote speaker, advocate, and writer.

Stephanie Pereira

Imprint Projects

Stephanie spent the first ten years of her career in the nonprofit arts management sector, before joining Kickstarter in 2011, where she was most recently the Director of Creator Engagement. Previously she worked at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, and has an MA in Arts Administration from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BFA from Mason Gross School the Arts at Rutgers University.

Kathleen Talbot


Kathleen joined Reformation in 2014 to help further the brand’s mission to lead and inspire a sustainable way to be fashionable. Reformation designs and manufactures limited-edition collections in its L.A. factory - the first sustainable sewing factory in the U.S. Kathleen directs sustainability programs that range from fabric sourcing, supply chain compliance, and operational efficiencies to make beautiful styles at a fraction of the environmental impact generated by most fashion brands. Kathleen also works on customer-facing campaigns and services to raise awareness around the impact fashion has on the environment, and how Reformation offers sustainable solutions.

Moderated by John Peterson

Loeb Fellowship, Harvard Graduate School of Design

John Peterson, architect, educator and activist, is Curator of the Loeb Fellowship. Peterson is the founder of Public Architecture, a national nonprofit organization based in San Francisco whose work has been showcased at the Venice Architecture Biennale, MoMA, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Benaki Museum in Athens, and the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam. A recipient of numerous design and social innovation awards, Peterson has played an important part in defining the concept of “public interest design.” He holds degrees in fine arts and architecture from Rhode Island School of Design and was a Loeb Fellow in 2006.


Lunch Discussion



Celika Caldwell


Celika Caldwell serves as the Vice President, AARP Experience Design, where she is responsible for using human centered design to enhance the experience across every consumer touchpoint. Prior to joining AARP, Celika held various marketing and operational leadership positons at FedEx, Citibank, Honeywell, and Deloitte Consulting. Celika graduated with an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business as well as a BS in Electrical Engineering from MIT.

Melissa Dalrymple

McKinsey Design

Melissa Dalrymple has spent her career at the intersection of design, innovation and business strategy. She helps lead the Service Design group within McKinsey Design. Before joining McKinsey in 2016, she was on leadership teams at IDEO, Doblin and Rockwell Group in both the US and Europe and has been a consultant to multiple early stage digital companies. She has lectured at multiple business schools on design thinking and was a former mentor to the HBS Field course.

Josh Emig


Josh Emig is the Head of Research & Development for WeWork, where he works with a team of researchers, architects, engineers, developers and designers to create spaces and technologies that transform how people work and live. Current research and development efforts are focused on the cognitive and affective experience of work environments, technology development for spatial interface and interactions, and the broader social and urban impacts of new patterns of working and living.

Charles Gildehaus

BCG Digital Ventures

Charles co-founded BCG Digital Ventures in January of 2014, which has become one of the fastest-growing corporate investment and incubation firms worldwide. He is currently leading the build out and launch of BCGDV’s new global Innovation and Investment Center in New York City and also leads the firm’s work for financial institutions in the Americas. Over the last four years, Charles has launched disruptive ventures for market leaders in the financial services, consumer and healthcare sectors.

Moderated by Heather Boesch


Heather works at the intersection of business, design and organizational strategy across industries, with a focus on shaping opportunities for government innovation, from tackling complex systemic challenges to designing emphatic citizen-centered services. Her recent work includes advising US Immigration Services on modernizing its digital presence, working with USAID to adapt private-sector demand generation techniques to improve public health outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa, and founding trucking companies in the Middle East in collaboration with tribal Sheikhs to bring economic relief to communities adversely affected by war.



Ashleigh Axios


Ashleigh Axios leads the creative studio at Automattic, a company with the mission to democratize publishing and commerce. She is also an executive board member for AIGA and an editorial board member for Design Observer. Ashleigh served as the creative director and a digital strategist for the Obama White House, from within the first-ever Office of Digital Strategy. She is also the president emeritus of AIGA Washington D.C., where she formed DotGovDesign, an initiative and conference connecting and empowering government designers.

Zachary McCune

Wikimedia Foundation

Zachary McCune leads global marketing for Wikipedia. He is obsessed with collaboration across cultures online and completed the first academic study of Instagram at the University of Cambridge in 2011. Working with Wikipedians and creative agencies, he has helped promote Wikipedia in Iraq, India, and Mexico. His latest video project with two Nollywood stars introduced Wikipedia to more than 15 million new users in Nigeria.

Allison Parrish

New York University

Allison is a computer programmer, poet, educator and game designer whose teaching and practice address the unusual phenomena that blossom when language and computers meet, focusing on artificial intelligence and computational creativity. She is a Teacher at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she earned her master's degree in 2008.

Moderated by Emily Dreyfuss

Wired, Nieman Foundation, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Journalist Emily Dreyfuss is a 2018 joint fellow at the Nieman Foundation and Berkman Klein Center at Harvard. She was previously a Senior Writer and Editor at WIRED, where she covered social issues and led the magazine's cybersecurity, business, politics, and opinion sections.


Closing Keynote

Bret Victor


Bret Victor wants scientists and citizens to be able to see, understand, and think what needs to be seen, understood, and thought in order for civilization to work out okay. He instigated Dynamicland, a non-profit research lab / community space in which computation lives in the physical world. Previously, he invented experimental UI concepts at Apple, designed interactive data graphics for Al Gore, and engineered musical instruments at Alesis. He has a MSEE from UC Berkeley, a BSEE from Caltech, and a website at

Conference Team

We are a team of students from Harvard Business School, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Harvard College.


  • Nicki Adler, GSD/SEAS
  • Caroline Chao, GSD
  • Jenny Fan, GSD/SEAS
  • Jessica Kim, College
  • Ryu Matsuzaki, HBS
  • Ginny Miller, HBS
  • Ben Sadkowski, GSD
  • Carolyn Yi, GSD
  • George Zhang, GSD


  • Joanne Cheung, GSD
  • Mubashara Khalid, HBS
  • Darsh Maheshwari, HBS
  • Eamon O'Connor, GSD/HKS

Many Thanks To