Saturday, November 12, 2011

Report: Decoded Conference 2011

This post was written by Moritz Stefaner, working as a self-proclaimed Truth&Beauty Operator. He is @moritz_stefaner on twitter and, occasionally, he blogs at

After last year’s big success, expectations were high for this year’s edition of the decoded conference in Munich, Germany. To start with my personal resume: while the conference actually had a bit of a slow start, with the first four talks not always fully living up to the expectations, in the end, 2 excellent appearances by “Team Canada”—Kate Hartmann and Jer Thorp—saved the day.


Stephen Williams from Fluid Forms opened the conference, and talked about their experiences with "democratizing design". Fluid forms provides an online platform where users can customize and order data-based (or otherwise parametric) objects, such as wedding rings with the fingerprints, bowl based on local landscapes or clocks or jewelry based on a specific excerpt from a street map. They work with milling, wax printing, silver casting and etching techniques. From an interface design point of view, I found Cassius an interesting project, in which one could literally “beat one’s lamp into shape” by punching a sandbag to customize the form of a lamp shade, and the Earth Bowls look gorgeous, too, and are so "living the future"—simply enter an address and press order to create a bowl based on your home town's terrain? Almost surreal. Very interesting material, but, unfortunately delivered not very enthusiastically, and most of the time, just scratching the surface of the complexities of mass customization.


Next up was Herbert W. Franke, a true digital media veteran and, among many other things, one of the co-founders of Ars Electronica, one of t...