Compostmodern 13

January 2012 – March 2013

Role: Curator, Executive Producer

The Challenge

Begun in 2004, Compostmodern was conceived by Phil Hamlett, Jennifer Pattee and Amos Klausner of the AIGA SF Chapter to catalyze a conversation about design and sustainability. The name, Compostmodern, was conceived as a way to view communication in a new way that pushed the boundaries of what is possible.

The event was held in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011, gaining in prominence and expanding in scope with each successive year. 2011’s event took place over two days, and drew 600 attendees from all over the country. The event became a pillar of AIGA SF Chapter programming, and fundraising to support other chapter initiatives.

With an all volunteer staff, led by myself, the Sustainability Chair of the chapter, the challenge was to build on the successes of 2011’s conference.

The Impact

I assembled a stellar volunteer team of sustainability and design professionals all deeply inspired and motivated by the conference’s mission. It took a core team of 25 people a full year to put all the pieces in place; programming, brand identity and build of the website, logistics related to venue, travel, food, lodging, marketing, p.r. and social media, sponsorship and set design.

We chose the theme of resilience and had 18 world-class designers, design educators and artists present short talks on different aspects of the theme. The conference spanned two days. On the first day, each speaker took the stage at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, where an audience of 500+ gathered.

On the second day, John Bielenberg of Future Partners, his team and 12 facilitators led a Future blitz workshop at the Autodesk Gallery. People broke into teams that spent the day out in the streets of San Francisco crafting unique interventions for the provocation “Given that resilience is the ability to take a punch in the face, how might we demonstrate resilience in the world?”. The day culminated in a judging and award ceremony based on a screening of each teams’ short video. Videos are available on YouTube and related press is on Core77 and Change Observer.

Key Tools

User research

Design Principles



Community building