NYCxDESIGN Week was buzzing with great events this year!

May was all about design in NYC. Starting off with a well timed IDSA North East regional conference focused on Industrial Design and its relationship with startups and entrepreneurs. The themes for this year were Design it. Build it. Fund it. and they were great prompts for some interesting speakers to share their experiences. Below are some of my picks for each.


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From the “Design It” session Mark Prommel from Pensa shared the how the firm’s “openness” to publicly sharing conceptual work lead them to finding great collaborators, investors, and ultimately the confidence to form Pensa Labs. One of the stories he presented was Street Charge, a project that evolved from a loose concept into multiple collaborations that lead to a licencing deal with AT&T who now has the product installed in public parks all over New York City to complement AT&T’s free wifi initiative.



In “Build It” a great talk came from Lauren Slowik, Designer Evangelist at Shapeways who presented the 3d printing service as a great venue for designers interested in quickly turning their ideas into products that can be purchased directly by consumers in a variety of materials. The print to order business model is a very interesting shift from the high volume plastic part mentality that so many corporations are familiar with. She wrapped up the presentations by sharing Shapeways’ collaboration with Nescafe who uses the service to print a cool faceted part for an “alarm cap” instant coffee lid.


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Lastly “Fund it”, we heard from Miriam Bekkouche from the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, Debera Johnson from the new Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator at Pratt, and Zack Schildhorn VP and Director from the venture capitalist firm, Lux Capital. There are many options available for entrepreneurs and designers to get funding for their projects and each option comes with its own set of pros and cons. If you want to retain 100% control over your company or project it would be wise to avoid VC’s who will gain power to direct decisions in order to make the business a good return on investment. A common thread among the “Fund It” presentations was the significant investment and groundwork required by the creator(s) in order to be successful.


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To wrap up the day an informative talk on intellectual property and patents came from Charles Mauro of NauroNewMedia. He stressed the importance of confidentiality and protecting designs before sharing them on public platforms. By publicly sharing a design you immediately compromise your ability to file a design patent. It is also worth noting the difference between a design patent (how a product looks) and a utility patent (how a product works) which you can read more about on the recently updated USPTO website.

The legal weight of design patents has really been brought to light because of the Apple vs. Samsung trial of 2012 where Apple was awarded $1.05 Billion dollars for Samsung’s copying the visual characteristics of the iPhone outlined in Apple’s design patents. – Mauro

It was great to hear this information shared at a IDSA conference that was well attended by young designers and students who may not have known the importance of design patents.

So, Design it. Build it. Fund it. and the lasting message of the day Protect it. concluded a great one day sprint of a conference full of useful information in our rapidly evolving industry. Stay tuned for Part 2, a NYCxDesign Week trend report to be posted soon!