The Forum

A conference for all kinds of designers


Friday, October 11 from 8:30am – 5:00pm at Vinegar Hill Theatre at Lighthouse Studio

The Forum is a day-long conference featuring local and national design leaders, examining a cross section of design practices. We'll discuss everything from digital experiences to book design.

The conference's special format allows for in-depth conversation and audience interaction. Themed talks followed by small, intimate panels give everyone the chance to dig into each topic.

Why you should come:

  1. What can you expect?

Over the day, we'll dive into four design topics, with talks and panels that balance personality and rigor. You'll hear from industry leaders, award-winning designers, and the best local practitioners. You'll have the option to ask questions and even go out to lunch with a speaker of your choice.

  1. What makes The Forum special?

While most design conferences touch lightly on a myriad topics, The Forum presents four, each with two perspectives and a panel. It's designed to tease out the most applicable insights from each field. Not to mention, while most conferences treat their speakers like rockstars, we're giving attendees the ability to eat lunch with their favorite speaker (for a small additional fee).

  1. Why is it so cheap?

Well, last year it was free. To be fair, last year we had only four speakers, no themed topics, and no panels. Truth be told, The Forum is inexpensive because we're a non-profit that takes the label seriously. Every single dollar goes to putting on the event.


Coffee, breakfast, and introductions
Changing Behaviors
Rethinking Engagement

Jeremy Cherry—Senior Digital Designer, Journey Group

In this session we will discuss the nature of digital engagement in the attention economy. By outlining the nature of our addictive relationship with technology and unpacking some specific examples, we will learn how to design more responsibly for humans.

This talk is being co-hosted by:
CreativeMornings: Charlottesville
You're Not a Type of Person

Micah Kessel—Founder, Playground of Empathy

A reframing of language around the idea of self: The (not so) tragic death of Meyers Briggs, the Zodiac, and the binary. Micah explains how you don't fit in a bucket, and why that's a good thing.

Panel: Changing Behaviors

Jeremy Cherry—Designer, Journey Group
Micah Kessel—Founder, Playground of Empathy

A conversation about motivations, experiences, and how to design things that change perspectives.

Coffee break
Pushing Architectural Boundaries
How Tall Can You Go?

George J. Efstathiou FAIA, RIBA—Founder & President, Efstathiou Consulting LLC

An overview of the design principles used in the design of Burj Khalifa, the World’s Tallest Building, by its Chief Architect.

Panel: Pushing Architectural Boundaries

George Efstathiou—Founder, Efstathiou Consulting
Brian Casterline—Founder, Ikoniq

A conversation about materials, clients, costs, and the need to build. We'll question why people need to reach the skies, and what businesses do when they think small.

This panel has been generously sponsored by:
Lunch Break

Have lunch on your own, with a new group of friends, or go to lunch with one of the speakers! Limited seating available, open to only Forum attendees.
Registration coming soon.

The Experience of Tomorrow
Design for Immersive, Mixed, and Virtual Environments

Meaghan Dee—Assistant Professor, Chair of Graphic Design, Virginia Tech

An exploration into the new digital realities: Meaghan presents the lessons learned through the FutureHAUS, Forgetfulness, and Shakespeare's Garden projects, each examining a new way to immerse oneself through technology.

Environments that Educate

Brittney Butler—Founder, Iconograph

A look at how questioning the purpose of your environment can lead to new and exciting experiences. Instead of just housing educational experiences, can the school building become an active participant in education? Brittney explains how her environmental graphic designs go beyond aesthetics and transform school buildings into inspiring teaching tools.

Panel: The Experience of Tomorrow

Meaghan Dee—Assistant Professor, Chair of Graphic Design, Virginia Tech
Brittney Butler—Founder, Iconograph

A conversation about our environments, both tangible and intangible: How they're built, what functions they serve, and—increasingly—how they mix.

Coffee break
Print is Dead! Long Live Print!
The People Who Make the News

Bill LeSueur—Creative Director, C-VILLE Weekly

The weekly news cycle relies on the consistent attention of many practiced hands and many sharp eyes. In this session, we learn how Bill makes it happen, and how the key isn't good stories, it's good people.

Confessions of a Book Designer

Cecilia Sorochin—Art Director, University of Virginia Press

After spending years designing everything from fashion to graphics, Cecilia (“Ceci,” for short) turned to book design. And in book design, she learned the secrets of a creative life, finding a small source of fulfillment in each project.
Panel: Print is Dead! Long Live Print!

Bill LeSueur—Creative Director, C-VILLE Weekly
Cecilia Sorochin—Art Director, University of Virginia Press

A conversation about print media, its lovers and haters, and why some people refuse to let it die.


The Forum is only $49, but tickets are limited. If your organization or business is interested in a bulk ticket purchase, email us.