PRIMER was created to prepare you for the future. Join us in the Grand Theater with other designers, strategists, thought leaders, architects, and educators to share work and processes to prime us for the challenges and the opportunities the future may hold.

PRIMER isn’t your typical design conference. It’s a conference focused solely on Speculative Design. Speculative Design may include many other categories such as design fiction, critical design, discursive design. You’re likely to hear presentations on emerging technologies such as autonomous cars, biotech, synthetic biology, emerging economies, social/cultural/environmental impact, design ethics, and business strategy and foresight.

PRIMER’s aim is to highlight important topics that provoke a design response but to also inspire thinkers and makers to use futures design thinking as a method to develop new agendas for communities, businesses, and governments to strategize and align themselves economically and sustainably for the future as it arrives.


Agi Haines

Agi Haines’ work is focused on the design of the human body. How might people respond to the possibilities of our body as another everyday material and how far can we push our malleable bodies while still being accepted by society? After completing her masters in the Design Interactions department at the Royal College of Art, she is now undertaking PhD research at Transtechnology Research, funded by Plymouth University. This research sits within a transdisciplinary department called Cognovo – a large scale Marie Curie funded ITN exploring cognitive innovation. Working amongst various artists and scientists who are all focused on creativity and cognition, her inspiration comes from the weird and wonderful things that exist inside us. Questioning how our morbid curiosity for the viscera of life might affect the future of design, not only for the environment but also for us as sentient sacks of flesh within it?

Jason Kelly Johnson

Jason Kelly Johnson is a founding design partner of Future Cities Lab, an experimental art and design studio, workshop and urban think tank operating globally out of San Francisco, California. Working in collaboration with his partner Nataly Gattegno, Jason has produced a range of award-winning projects exploring the intersections of art and design with advanced fabrication technologies, robotics, responsive building systems and public space. Future Cities Lab is an interdisciplinary studio employing an adventurous team of interaction designers, architects, technologists, digital craftspeople, urban ecologists and more. 

Instagram / Facebook / Twitter

Christian Ervin

As Design Director at Tellart, Christian offers design and technology leadership to cultural institutions, governments, and product manufacturers in the strange present, when the internet is everywhere and everything is a computer. Tellart creates experiences that bridge the physical and the virtual across screens, objects, and spaces, with a particular focus on early-stage prototypes that investigate and communicate future products and services. Over the last few years, Christian has led work on the Museum of the Future, a series of immersive future scenarios for the government of the United Arab Emirates that have helped shape policy on emerging technologies.

Andres Valencia

Andres Valencia, Co-Founder of Change Innovation, innovation and strategic futures design firm, with presence in Mexico and Latin America. He presided over the section Design and creative industry in Chamber of Commerce of Guadalajara for 2 consecutive periods, he was consultant of companies through diverse incubators of business for 3 years, where he implemented models of strategic design for diverse industries. Marketing Coach for the (Latin American division) TV channel WOBI. He is currently President of the Promotion and Design Council of Mexico and former president of the Association of Graphic Designers. He has design studies in Germany, a master's degree in business innovation from CEDIM in Mexico and various programs specializing in innovation and futures design (USA and Mexico international courses) He is a postgraduate professor at ITESO (innovation models), Speaker and international consultant, Andres has held workshops and conferences in business, innovation and entrepreneurship forums in Mexico, Center and South America.

Beverly May

Bev is the founder of The Concepts Lab,, and a veteran of designing and delivering talks, courses and workshops in UX and Product Management around the world. She loves creating new things; imagining the future; helping and mentoring others to achieve their maximum potential; and all things interdisciplinary and complex. Bev is also the Executive Director of the UX Awards, the premier global awards for exceptional UX- the next Awards is October 2017 in Palo Alto. In addition to teaching and the UX Awards, Bev has managed her own UX & product strategy consultancy, Oxford Tech, in NY and SF since 2008. In 2015, Bev was interim CTO & Head of Product Management & Design at a social video mixing company in Berlin, Germany. She has also helped create, optimize and launch hundreds of digital initiatives for Amplify Education, T­-Mobile, Pitney Bowes, Hearst, Rodale, Diageo, Nike, MCI, RealAge, Novartis and many others, and has founded several companies. She has an Executive MBA from Oxford University, an MS from NYU's ITP Program, and a BA from University of Toronto. Fun fact: she's also a triple citizen!

Paolo Cardini

  Paolo Cardini is currently Associate Professor in Industrial Design at Rhode Island School of Design. His previous appointment was within the interdisciplinary design graduate program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. His work ranges from product to interaction design and from integrated communication to strategic planning. Hailing from Italy, he studied Industrial design at Politecnico di Milano and Glasgow School of Art and he has been department chair for the bachelor and master courses in Industrial Design at Istituto Europeo di Design in Turin. Cardini was a founding member and CEO of Design Gang Netowrk, a multidisciplinary design studio with a wide range of focus from strategic and product design, to graphics and integrated communication. He has designed for various Italian and international brands including: Pininfarina, Motorola Iden, Ferrero, Ferrino, Fiat, LG, and Martini & Rossi. Cardini also designs and consults for various international firms and continues to lecture in conferences and design schools worldwide while also contributing actively to the field with papers and publications.

Scott Fisher

Scott Fisher is an interaction designer known for his work on technologies of presence and his pioneering research in the field of Virtual Reality at NASA. He is a Professor and founding Chair of the Interactive Media Division and Associate Dean of Research at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where he also directs the Mobile and Environmental Media Lab. His current work leverages VR and AR as vehicles for design fiction prototyping. His industry experience includes Atari, Paramount, and his own companies Telepresence Research and Telepresence Media. A graduate of MIT's Architecture Machine Group (now Media Lab), he has taught at MIT, UCLA, UCSD,  and Keio University in Japan. His work has been recognized internationally through numerous invited presentations, professional publications and in the popular media. In addition, he has been an Artist in Residence at MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies and his stereoscopic imagery and artwork has been exhibited in the US, Japan and Europe.

Joshua McVeigh-Schultz

Joshua McVeigh-Schultz is an interactive designer and media artist who recently earned a PhD in the Media Arts and Practice from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. His research focuses on the intersection between speculative design and ritual, and his current work leverages VR to envision the future of industrial design (through a partnership with Steelcase's Futures of Work group). He was awarded an Intel PhD Fellowship for his dissertation on speculative rituals of liveness. He has conducted research in USC’s Mobile & Environmental Media Lab, Intel Labs’ Interaction Experience Research Group and Microsoft Research’s Social Media Collective. He also earned an MFA from UC Santa Cruz in Digital Arts & New Media and an MA in Asian Studies from UC Berkeley.

James Pierce

James Pierce is currently lecturer in the Jacobs Institute for Design innovation at UC Berkeley and research affiliate at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication. He has longstanding research interests in speculative design, design theory, and everyday social practices. His more recent research interests include state surveillance, digital disconnectivity, and ghosts. James has published over 50 articles in top conferences and journals spanning the fields of design research, human-computer interaction, and ubiquitous computing. James work frequently overlaps with art practice and the humanities. His worked has been awarded numerous best paper awards. Previously James worked as Research Scientist and Visiting Scholar at the UC Berkeley Center for New Media. James has a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in Human-Computer Interaction, and a Master’s Degree in Interaction Design from Indiana University.

Joseph Kappes

Joseph Kappes is an interaction designer at Cooper. He studied design at Carnegie Mellon, and before that taught classes in literature and popular culture as a graduate student at Syracuse University. Joe is interested in exploring the ways that we can make theory practical and bring it into everyday use.  

Scott Paterson

Scott Paterson is a Senior Design Lead at IDEO. His work is focused on the future of cities, specifically the intersection of technology and space whether designing mobile applications, embedded interfaces or physical environments. Scott’s passionate about understanding how our experience can be supported, mediated and inspired by great interaction design. He leads our Adventuring platform which includes an online series Tomorrow in Progress that explores what the future of life in the Bay Area might be like in 10–15yrs. Adventuring is a new capability we’re practicing, like Design Thinking, that examines futures, design fiction, and inhabitation.   Twitter @sgp007   LinkedIn  

Paul Neeley

Paul Neeley is a service and speculative designer exploring the social, cultural, and ethical implications of emerging technologies, with recent projects on happiness, healthcare, future mobility, and issues of complexity and computational irreducibility in design and business. He is consults in service & speculative design at Neeley Worldwide with clients like Moovel and the Policy Lab UK, and is a visiting lecturer in Service Design at the Royal College of Art. He has worked previously as a service designer at Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation and researcher at Unilever. He hold a Masters in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art in London and a Bachelors in Communication Studies and Economics from Northwestern University.  

José de la O

  José de la O earned an Industrial Design Bachelor Degree at Iberoamericana University in México City and and a Masters Degree on Conceptual Design on Context at Design Academy Eindhoven. After that he founded Studio José de la O in the City of Eindhoven in 2010, and relocating to his hometown Mexico City. De la O is co-founder of Cooperativa Panorámica, runs the design-driven cultural initiative,”The Chair that Rocks”, is the Creative Director of his brand “delaO” and co-produces the Spanish speaking podcast Fuera de Contexto. While in The Netherlands, Jose de la O has been a guest lecturer at the Design Academy Eindhoven and speaker at Open Designism, and Mediamatic. Later in México, he performed as a Speaker at several design events such as Design Decode, Factor Clave (ITESM Campus Querétaro), Oxymoron (ITESM Monterrey), Cisibero (Universidad Iberoamericana, México City), among others. He currently teaches Industrial Design at Universidad Centro in México City. His work has been exhibited in Ventura Lambrate during the Milan Design Week, Inside Design Amsterdam, Dutch Design Week, The Future Perfect in New York, the Design Museum in Taipei, the Shanghai Museum of Glass and countless design exhibitions all over México.