Field Report: Likeminds Retreat

31 August, 2016

Likeminds is a creative weekend retreat for curious minds, held by 1m1w1d and Human NYC in Beacon, NY, featuring talks, concerts, and explorations of exciting innovations in tech and design. Two of our staff designers, Jeff and Marissa, checked it out for us, and brought back this report.

How did you come across Likeminds? Why did you want to go?

Marissa: Our developers for the website hosted the event and invited us. I liked the concept of going to a design camp in the woods. And I'm a sucker for cute branding and a nice website.

It seems like it’s a place to get inspired for future projects, am I right?

Jeff: Mostly true. There were definitely more dev-centric presentations, but there was also a good mix of editorial, illustration, photography. It was more of a gathering of close friends with a free exchange of ideas and projects that they’ve all got going on.

M: There were a range of speakers: developers, idea makers, designers, illustrators, and creative thinkers. Rachel was inspired to host the camp as a way to share who she’s inspired by with a larger audience.

Who is Lotta Nieminen?

M: She’s a designer and illustrator, who offered great clarity and insight on the creative process. Lotta just made being a creative person sound so... organized.

J: I’ve been following her work since I was a student! I really love her illustration work, so I was excited to hear her speak.

I’m curious about some of the stuff you saw and heard. What are the sound murals?

M: They’re mobile wooden structures with cool paintings. Certain parts of the painting were given a censor, which when tapped, produced a sound. The sounds are all digital and can be switched out whenever.

J: It was made by sound studio One Thousand Birds.

Why is the 8-person tent so special?

M: It stuck out from the herd of 2-person tents.

J: Marissa and I also each got our own wing of the tent-mansion, which was nice.

Did you get any time to relax?

M: At night there was music and s'mores, which was a nice way to meet other people. They had a great line up.

Did you agree on starting a crazy website at 3 a.m. with anyone?

M: Ha! Not that I remember! But also, Jeff and I could barely keep our eyes open past midnight.

You're going back next year?

M: I’d consider going just for the day. I'm not sure I'll ever camp again. It doesn't matter how big my tent is, the mosquitoes still know where to find me.

So that's the deal breaker?

M: It was the main deterrent for most of the design studio! Jeff is alone on that one.

J: I’m always down to go camping!

Could you could tell us in a few words what the robot art about?

M: Sougwen is exploring how to make robots more human, by making them follow human movements. She's calling it responsive A.I.

J: It was pretty cool. The robot was drawing in response to how its human counterpart was moving the pencil around. Next-level art collaboration.

Did you harvest any cool ideas you might want to use?

M: There were definitely a lot takeaways. Hugh Francis shared his burger metaphor, how he approaches the client relationship. When pricing out projects, he realizes there a lot of things that go into making the perfect website but instead of listing out every ingredient, he defines the major components: bun, lettuce, cheese, meat, some have bacon, some have tomato. Every burger is a little different and needs its own set of ingredients. It’s not always worth it to describe every ingredient at length in order to validate compensation. For me, it was a good reminder that when I'm presenting work, its best to not get too caught up in the granular ingredients, but rather to define the bun, meat, and any special toppings.

J: I was more inspired to reconsider how I approach my work and let myself enjoy the process more (as opposed to pursuing a perfect final product). It's easy for me to get tunnel vision when I'm in the weeds of a project, but Lotta made a great point when she said it's sometimes better to take a step back and think about which "hat" you're wearing, so you're better equipped to problem-solve.

M: Also, in yoga, we learned a nifty way to strengthen your wrists.

Smarter, stronger.

M: Mentally and physically!

Words by The Editors. Photography by Meredith Jenks.

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