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10 inspiring design conferences to attend in 2017

From Canada to Australia, the best design conferences around the world this year.

Looking for renewed inspiration? Want to expand your network of both contacts and of ideas? Hoping to gain more clients or learn about a new technology? Then book yourself a spot at one of the awesome design conferences taking place around the world in 2017.

Whether you’re full-time employed or part-time freelancing, attending conferences is a core part of professional development that will advance your creativity and reaffirm your dedication to design. Once you’ve settled on the conference, cost, and dates, pitch the idea to your boss or to your clients as a way to both garner potential funds or simply boost their view of your commitment to your craft. As a freelancer, you may be eligible for tax deductions, so make sure to save those receipts. For those adventurous and ambitious designers out there, take a look at ways to further boost your resume by presenting a poster, being on a panel, or even giving a featured speech.

Now that you’re motivated and excited to engage with your design tribe, here are the best upcoming conferences each month to get in on the action:

March 22-26: IA Summit

Vancouver, Canada

The Information Architects annual conference this year is a perfect union of design, technology, and UX philosophy with its theme of “Designing for Humans.” Taking a futuristic look at the interaction between rising artificial intelligence technology and user-experience, the 18th annual IA Summit will particularly call into question how you to innovate your career to stay relevant throughout the the 21st century. With Keynote Speakers from Google, Harvard University, and Pinterest, this fast approaching conference will start your creative juices flowing right off the bat!

April 24-28: TED

Vancouver, Canada

Sticking around another month in Vancouver? Maybe you’ve already registered to attend the mecca of design thinking and human experience, the annual TED: Technology, Engineering, Design conference. Even though this year’s conference focused on “The Future You” is already sold out, you can still participate in the action at TED2017 cinema screenings at select theaters. Otherwise, look out for the famous TED 18-minute talks to be permanently available on on their website or register for an another upcoming event of the TED conference series.

May 25-26: The Design Conference

Brisbane, Australia

Still available at an early-bird price, Brisbane’s Design Conference is a great opportunity to connect into the creative wavelengths down under and hone your skills at a growing conference that was originally organized for university students. Between talks, workshops, and breakout sessions, you’ll get an intimate view at unique techniques around Brisbane and the Billy Blue College of Design. Plus, don’t forget to RSVP for the nightlife events where you’ll be able to get your informal networking on and make the most of your TDC experience.

June 7-9: 99U

New York City, NY, USA

99U is a total NYC experience with opportunities to soak up all the creative city that never sleeps has to offer. With a call for “Anyone in a creative field working to: put an idea into action, get inspiration from creative leaders, connect with potential collaborators, manage an effective team, or understand the trends affecting the future of creativity,” there will be sure to be plenty of like-minded thinkers there with you. Plus, you’ll get to explore some of the offices around NYC at Studio Sessions with Buzzfeed, Spotify, Shake Shack, and Refinery29.

July 11-17: World Domination Summit

Portland, Oregon

Looking for a little bit of all-around everything? Then, the World Domination Summit is for you to let loose and do some personal research about what it means to be a creative. WDS will not only provide you with the tools to live the freelance lifestyle you’ve always wanted but also the community to push you to be your best. No fear though if you don’t have a full week to spare, organizers recommend committing to at least Friday-Sunday to get the most of your experience and to start the Big Adventure.

August 29-Sept. 1: UX Week

San Francisco, CA, USA

Head to the UX Week conference in San Fran to get close enough to almost touch the behemoths of Silicon Valley. After 15 years, UX Week has mastered its program to provide you with action-items and tools to flawlessly incorporate into your workflow. Although the registration fee is quite steep, you’ll have all the ground-breaking speakers, workshops, coffee, and lunch to power your brain throughout these jam-packed 4-days.

September 14-15: Brand New Conference

Chicago, IL, USA

Do you love the Brand New Blog or simply have a thing for marketing, design, and branding? Returning to the Chicago after 2 years away in NYC and Nashville, the BNC is sure to liven up the Windy City with some of the strongest design firms and artists in the world. Look out for the announcement of the 2017 theme and how it will transform the logo for some design inspiration from the get go!

October 16-25: World Design Summit

Montreal, Canada

If design is more than just a way of working for you, then the World Design Summit might just be the conference that you need to expand your work philosophy to be your life philosophy. With 6 major themes centered around applied design thinking, the WDS explores how your outlook can have a major impact on civic participation, the environment, beauty, the economy, and global transformation, both subtle and extreme. The second call for papers and presentations opens on March 13th, so don’t miss the exciting opportunity to not only attend but also take a stand.

November 3-6: Summit

Los Angeles, CA

Take your creative career to the next level at the heart of all things elite: Summit 2017 in LA. Although attendance requires an application, the quick form is definitely worth your time to hear from and rub shoulders with celebrities from industries ranging from professional sports to journalism to international relations. Try your luck for a once-in-a-lifetime creative experience amongst the stars themselves in sunny Downtown LA.

December 11-13: An Event Apart

Denver, CO, USA

“Three days of design, code, and content”…what more could you want in a conference? An Event Apart runs conferences all around the USA throughout the year, but the closeout Denver event features an extra 6 speakers and the ski slopes are not far away! Despite its limited scope, AEA events welcome a wide-range of design professionals and offer an intimate experience. Seating is limited so register now to get your spot at this special edition event.

Wherever your design adventures lead you this year, remember to soak up all the professional development that these conferences offer!


Mariel Tavakoli

About the Author Mariel Tavakoli

Mariel is a writer, content marketer, ESL teacher, and writing coach. She loves all things cultural exchange and is always planning her next trip. She tweets @mstavakoli and writes on her website.