Art and Culture

Published on April 4th, 2012 | by thevyne


PSFK NYC: A Day of Inspiration

By Keesha B.

A few weeks ago, Vyne contributor Ebony (@kyracultivar) invited me to attend the 2012 PSFK conference in NYC. My first question was, “what’s it about?” to which I recall her saying something like, “it’s about creativity, technology, innovation…” I thought to myself, this sounds interesting. Since neither of us had ever attended this conference before, I decided to visit the website to get a sense of who the speakers were. To my surprise I knew none of them yet something about that made the idea of attending this conference even more intriguing. Then I read the tag line describing what PSFK as an organization is about. It said, very simply, “your go-to source for new ideas and inspiration.” They had me at inspiration.

So I attended the conference this past Friday and in a word it was…a-ma-zing. It was amazing because it gave me a chance to temporarily suspend my usual reality and instead awaken the childlike parts of my brain that finds joy and wonder in pondering the possibilities…the possibilities of technology; the possibilities of social media; the possibilities of humanity…the possibilities of me.

Here are a few of the cool ideas and inspirational nuggets I came away with:

Cowbird is Humanizing the Web – While everyone else seems to be using the web to speed things up, Jonathan Harris is using it to slow us down. His site Cowbird, is an online community for story telling in a deeper, more meaningful, longer-lasting personal way. It’s like an online audio-visual diary of your life where you can collaborate with others to document the overarching sagas that shape our world today. Highly recommend that you slow down for a sec and check it out…

Less Equals MoreGraham Hill of, took us through a series of images from the 1950’s to present day showing how consumerism has led to more/bigger stuff but less and less happiness. So Graham made the simple yet profound statement that maybe less does equal more. Less stuff, less space, less debt, less stress in exchange for more energy, more relaxation, more time to spend with love ones, more space for happiness, more resources for the planet. Graham is committed to the modern day minimalist movement and you can learn about it through his company, Check out the cool video of how they transformed a ~600sq ft. apartment using specially designed furniture.

Don’t Give In to Bad Design – From Simon Collins, Dean of Fashion at Parsons The New School of Design, I learned the Italian word, sprezzatura. Loosely translated it means, “do everything elegantly.” Whether it’s what you say, how you say it, what you do, how you do it, what you wear, how you wear it, whatever it is…do it elegantly and never, ever give in to bad design, no matter what the context.

Complaints Spark CreativityTina Roth Eisenberg, a successful designer, shared a philosophy she follows, “if I complain about something too much, I need to do something about it.” That philosophy has proven to be quite the catalyst for several of her successful entrepreneurial ventures including her iphone app TeuxDeux (a simple yet stylishly designed to-do list app for those of us who like making lists). And Tattly, an online company started simply because she didn’t like the look of her young daughter’s temporary tattoos.

Amazement is All Around UsJason Silva, futurist and filmmaker, is the embodiment of exactly what he shared with us,  “a shot of philosophical espresso.” Listening to him talk with so much energy and excitement was exactly like knocking back some espresso. But even more than that, his videos on patterns of similarity between people, nature and technology and his commentary on pulling the present forward to meet our imaginations was simply thrilling. Check out his site here.

If You Can’t Buy It, Make It – Abe Burmeister of Outlier was delightfully down to earth with his presentation on how he started his performance wear company simply because he liked riding his bike to work and hated ruining his jeans when he did. What started as one pair of pants has now turned into a successful online business selling work-like/performance wear for men (and pants for women). If you have a man in your life that is active and could benefit from cool performance gear that doubles as work-wear, then check out

Companies Can Be Decent Human Beings TooTodd Carmichael proves this every day in the way he and co-founder Jean Philippe Iberti run their wildly successful and socially responsible coffee houses, La Colombe. If you live in NY, Philadelphia, Chicago or South Korea then you can partake of their critically acclaimed blends. But whatever you do, don’t go in there asking for a sandwich.

Empathy is More Powerful than SympathyAlain Sylvain is the founder of Sylvain Labs, a strategy and innovation consultancy that’s worked with several notable brands. Yet, instead of Alain taking us through one of their latest projects, he chose to use his time making us aware of the Live Below the Line challenge happening May 7-11. It’s about understanding extreme poverty in a more real way and doing something about it.

Do. Be.Shantell Martin is an artist, performer, lecturer and visualist. We had the pleasure of watching her create her signature line drawings during lunch which was right after she came on stage and hit us with the purest, most unencumbered inspirational nugget for the day, “Do less…Be more.”

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