What kind of inspiration would you take away from a walking typography tour of a city founded in the Middle Ages, or a day spent with other designers, throwing layers of paint on a blank canvas, just to see what happens? What sense of place would you feel after spending a week with peers from around the world and realizing they confront the same challenges as you?
Nothing inspires the creative spirit, broadens perspectives, and breaks down bias like travel. With this in mind, we sent five designers from the InVision community—from Google, Airbnb, Pinterest, Indeed, and Automattic—on the trip of a lifetime last month, as part of the launch of our biggest community initiative to date: Design Exchange. And we’re excited to announce that we’ll be doing it again every quarter in 2019.
Design Exchange is a chance for designers to get out from behind the computer, see new places, meet new friends, and shake it up. By sending members of the design community on curated, weeklong trips around the world, we are empowering them to learn with, and from, their design peers. Design Exchange: Munich, our “prototrip,” proved transformative.
“With your job, you tend to orientate your world around yourself with a singular lens. Something I love about being in a different country is suddenly everything I know is entirely different, “ said Benjamin Evans, inclusive design lead for Airbnb. “I can’t speak the language, I don’t understand the most basic of things as I’m navigating around, and I’m reminded that my lens is not The Lens. There’s just this wonderful source of inspiration that I can continue to draw on.”
“I can’t speak the language, I don’t understand the most basic of things as I’m navigating around, and I’m reminded that my lens is not The Lens.”
Design Exchange weeks are designed specifically for the destination city—on deck in 2019 so far are Sydney, Singapore, and Copenhagen—and the participants, both traveling and local designers. In Munich, for example, the itinerary included a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art, curated dinners with local designers, tours of IBM Watson IoT and Kaiser X Labs, a typography walking tour of the city, a leadership workshop on design systems, and much more.
Travel has always been a big part of my life personally and a huge part of my design education.
Ashley von Clausburg
“Travel has always been a big part of my life personally and a huge part of my design education. So when I heard about Design Exchange, I was really excited for the chance to meet other designers, go overseas, and be in a new atmosphere,” said Ashley von Clausburg, marketing designer for Automattic. “It was fantastic.”
The most remarkable part of the Design Exchange though is the relationships fostered on the trips, Munich participants said.
“I can see the participants on my trip staying in touch for a very long time, and that’s really special to have made such bonds in such a short period of time,” said Kim Williams, senior director of experience and design for Indeed. “I also think about all the insights. I’m supercharged to get back to work and apply all that I’ve learned.”
I’m supercharged to get back to work and apply all that I’ve learned
Travel makes the world feel smaller and its people more connected, and Design Exchange is bringing that to the design community as well. Travelers are transformed—both in their work and in their souls—by an exchange of ideas, an empathy for the problems we have as designers, and simply the friendships fostered on the trips.
“You don’t need to know what’s going to happen during the Design Exchange week; you don’t need to understand all the details,” Lindsay Norman, lead product designer for Pinterest. “To get the opportunity to go somewhere new with a group of people that are like-minded…You can’t pass on something like that. You just have to do it.”
Travel the world with us—next up is Sydney!—and discover design with a new perspective. Apply now.
Stephanie is a copywriter for InVision. She hails from the humid land of Elvis (that's Memphis, TN, for the uninitiated), where she lords it over her two dogs, three cats, and one bearded husband, all while continuously talking about herself in third person.