The 2016 Digitized Digital Design Conference identity by Vasilis Pallas

#Digitized16 and the state of digital design

Missed the 2016 Digitized Digital Design Conference in Athens last week? Here’s where the industry is headed.

International design conferences with speakers from all around the world are a great opportunity to identify the current state of the creative industry; and then make an educated guess on where it’s going from here. The 6th edition of Digitized, the annual Digital Design Conference in Athens, Greece, offered enough insight for both.

If you were unlucky enough to miss it, I’ve summed up the key takeaways regarding the state of digital design for you:

Unit 9’s Yifei Chai / Photo courtesy of Digitized Digital Design Conference / Aphroditi Ηoulaki photography

1 / Paradigm shift

Do you feel that? It’s the design world shifting. Most cutting edge digital creative agencies are now on board with the holistic approach, by opening up to cross-field collaborations and evolving their work to incorporate a variety of new disciplines (advertising, marketing, product design, etc). It’s now obvious that “storytelling” can only take you so far; the real struggle is to get your hands dirty and create a great service from the beginning and then build the story around it (service designers rejoice!).

That requires the development of a common language, as well as new, common codes of communication in order to bring design thinking to the forefront of the process, rather than using it as an overused industry jargon.

2 / Redesign the 9-to-5

Projects are only as good as their teams. And teams work better when they’re inside a healthy, open, collaborative and stress-less environment. Empathy is slowly turning into a buzzword, but that’s only because of the way we tend to overuse certain words. The bottom line is that we need to employ our human-centric design approach to the teams that are responsible for the design process as well.

Better teams build better products, and the industry is hell-bent on prototyping the process as much as possible: that includes a better understanding of the why, who, and how decisions are made, as well as finding new working routines that increase productivity and relieve stress (like Your Majesty Co.’s 4:1 work week).

iA’s Oliver Reichenstein / Photo courtesy of Digitized Digital Design Conference / Aphroditi Ηoulaki photography

3 / The only rule is: there are no rules

Tools keep changing about once a year nowadays, so the only real mainstay is our ability to adhere to the principles and adapt to everything else.

Understanding the advantages of a fast-paced technology, stretching its limits and pushing them forward is probably what all our philosophical debates should be about. But, surely not about whether the hamburger menu makes for good UX, or if icons are 😈 or 😇. Because, you know what? The only real answer is “it depends”.

Here! If you want one rule to rule them all, take a cue from Oliver Reichenstein: “Make it as minimal as possible, but not less”.

4 / The future is here

Sci-fi’s got nothing on our present day state. Everything that was promised is already here; you name it! VR and AI are two fields where everyone feels like a rookie, only because they actually are. The playing field is as level as it will ever be and the possibilities are endless.

Our physical and digital lives are merging, by complementing each other and trying to present us with novel experiences. Art, installations and VR are coming together to bring the two worlds into one. Whether we’ll be physically possessing the body of someone else in the coming year remains to be seen, but nothing sounds out of reach at this point in time.


I won’t bother you with a rundown of the talks, since you’ll be getting the chance to see all of them online soon enough. I will, however, say that just iA Inc.’s Oliver Reichenstein would have been worth the price of admission alone, but I’m also really biased on this particular subject, so there…


Demetrios Fakinos, Konstantinos Penlidis (Penlix) and everyone else involved in organising this massive event, all did an excellent job! Can’t wait for next year.