7 Things Kyoorius Designyatra 2014 taught me and a missed flight.

Little bit of background

The last time I had planned for Kyoorius Designyatra was in 2012 when my presentation got shortlisted and I got a chance to give a small talk, of sort. Co-incidentally, I had my interview scheduled at Fab.com and I had to let go of my first DesignYatra + Goa trip.

After 2 years, I was even more excited to join and attend the event. Honestly, I’m not much of a conference guy as I came out of one as a better person or with more excitement. But I knew Kyoorius DY was going to be different than every other conferences I’ve known of in India.

In 2013, I went for Behance Creative Review session in Pune, hoping to find some good hires. Although, we didn’t get any new hires… that was the first time I saw and listened to Rajesh Kejriwal (CEO and founder of Designyatra and Kyoorius) on stage. He seemed like a very nice person and most importantly someone who values, lives and breathes innovation, creativity and design.

Here was my checklist of activities I would be doing at Designyatra, 2014:

- Meet some friends I knew via my social networks in person for the first time
- Learn as much as possible from the list of speakers
- Make some use of my DSLR
- Talk to new people and learn about their work and passion
- Find smart people who might be a good fit
- Talk about Data Visualization a lot
- Eat a lot of food
- Drink a lot

I am happy I managed to achieve some from the checklist which I’ll get to shortly but first, here are a few things that Kyoorius taught me (in no particular order):

1. Data Visualization is THE thing for me now

Well, when I wrote this (https://medium.com/design-rework/leaving-fab-com-and-joining-fusioncharts-to-find-first-love-9edb9e226e9d), I already realised that Data Viz is something I’m not getting over with anytime soon. When Deepak Jagdish came up on stage (http://www.twitter.com/dj247), I was already looking him up and browsing through his work. He is a computational designer at MIT Media Lab. Deepak demonstrated some of his works, which mostly revolved around big data visualisations, data mining and mapping, and one of those was project Immersion (http://deepakjagdish.com/). In project Immersion, he presents a visual data of email inbox focusing on a people-centric approach rather than the content of the emails. How personal development at any given time period is reflected on the type of emails. It was beautiful and I got just the right dose of motivation to come back to working on DataViz even more.

2. Stay humble

The Executive Creative Director of Japan’s oldest advertising company who have their own rice fields for recreational purposes, their own dental hospital and a thousand other things… comes up to us hanging around in the smoking area and takes a photo with us. Laughter and curiosity like a little child but the sheer genius that he was already, connected with us personally within a couple of minutes and the next thing we know was sharing smokes and chilling… that’s Morihiko Hasebe.
His humble nature, innocence and super positive aura around was beyond any explanation.

3. Be interesting


Simon Manchipp and David Law: oh boy… they were the RedBull of Day 2. The most engaging presentation I’ve ever seen. I do not have what magic they did at KDY14 but if you’re interested, here’s one of their conference presentation preview: https://vimeo.com/49195959

4. Design to solve for a bigger purpose

David Berman, while partly promoting his book: Do Good, actually gave some advise that hit me and I was taken aback on how important design is and how small little things add up to make a big change. How a design flaw ended up making Bush as the president, how a simple traffic signal design flaw can be fatal for people with colour blindness and many more.
One of his memorable moments from the talk: He listed out quite a few disease/ situations/ physical/ mental flaws or limitations that we, of 1500+ people, may have including vision problem, pregnancy, colour blindness and asked any who had atleast one of them to stand up. Almost, everyone was on their feet. His statement, “these are the young people around you, your friends for whom you have to design, you have to do good.” *claps slowly*

5. Take a walk and invent

At 26, Dhairya Dand is WIRED’s one of the world’s top 12 innovation fellows with hundreds of other achievements under his belt. Dand is a designer, researcher & artist who gets bored very easily and that’s when he takes a walk and comes up with new product ideas, invents them. You can check them out here: http://dhairyadand.com/sec/
He loves to create different things by looking at life as a giant recipe with different ingredients. Very fresh perspective on how to achieve disruptive executions by simplifying approaches and learning from your surrounding.

6. Take a stand against mediocrity

One of the talks that I was badly looking forward to was by Ajaz Ahmed (http://www.twitter.com/ajaz) — the guy who started AKQA at 21 and is now one of the world’s top digital agencies. I have been a long fan of AKQA’s work and how, as a company, they take a stand against mediocrity similar to how Facebook as a company takes a stand against isolation.

7. An event like no other

I’m going to keep this part short: These guys fucking know how to organise an event. They know the right goodies to give away, they know the right place to organise it at and, they fucking know how to party! I’ll come back every year.

Room for improvement

This event was good enough to make me even greedier for a better one next year. Here are couple of things I’d love in 2015:
- Organized internal portal of KDY attendees categorised by professional fields. Helps in connecting with people from your domain easily.
- Even better goodies and tees, please!
- RFID wrist bands to connect to people easily.
- Better WiFi
- Bring in full fledged D& AD

Last words

I met some of the people I knew from Facebook/ Twitter, I used my camera. I also met new people from various fields. I did talk quite a bit about data viz and also became the only ‘data/ stats’ guy on #kdy14 twitter feed. I ate a lot and drank a lot but the way I rate my trip experience is by missing a morning flight! #win. ☺

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