A blog by Els De Swert (UX/UI Designer) & Louis Demeester (Digital Designer)

Digital Design Days in Milan is an annual 3-day event which offers conferences, professional workshops, digital showcases & installations by the best international designers, visionary storytellers and innovative thinkers. “An unprecedented line-up of extraordinary speakers “ – or so they claim. Only one way to find out…  What’s more, one of the main themes of the conference was new technologies, and the program boosted some promising talks on hot topics such as VR. In short, the Digital Design Days seemed like an excellent opportunity to soak up new ideas and get inspired.


Handy tools & libraries for our Virtual Reality projects

One of the workshops we attended was The Art of Virtual Reality by Mate Steinforth,  animation designer at the German company “Sehsucht”, a top-notch quality label in the field of animations and graphics. (By way of introduction, Steinforth showcased some of the impressive animation movies they have made for their customers.) In the workshop, we got to play with several tools which allow you to “edit” the real world or to create your own virtual world in a quick and simple way:

  • With Vizor, you can add 3D objects to a 360° photo. In the workshop, we made our own 360° pictures and looked at the virtual world we created using our smartphone and a google cardboard.
  • Sketchfab: a platform for sharing VR experiences
  • Recap360.autodesk: a tool which can generate 3D models by rendering pictures of existing spaces, objects and people.
  • And, finally, we were introduced to some VR/3D libraries, which we can use for our own VR projects.

Our impression of this workshop? It was really interesting to see what you can do with VR. Not just to play around with VR in our free time, but also for our work at iCapps. Innovation is high on the agenda at iCapps, and as part of our innovation efforts, we are currently exploring what VR can mean for our clients and are developing a VR POC. This workshop definitely provided us with some handy tools to support our work.

We also attended some talks on VR. The main takeaway from these: VR is an becoming an important medium. Because it is a very expensive experience, it is not very interesting for consumers. But for businesses, it can be a real added value.

And let’s not forget about AR. Apple is rumoured to have some big plans… We’ll definitely be keeping track of any developments in this area as well.


How using symbols in Sketch makes our life easier

Another interesting workshop we attended was Sketch Advanced by Lorenzo Bocchi, Creative Director at the Friendly Agency in Sydney. During this workshop, we learned a thing or two about symbols and nested symbols: how you make them, how you manage them, and how they can make your life easier. It confirmed what we already knew: that building symbols is quite time-consuming, because you really have to think hard about the logic behind them. But it also showed that, once you have implemented these symbols, making changes becomes a breeze.

Aside from symbols, Bocchi also showed us some other interesting tools:

  • Several plug-ins, the most important of which was Craft, by Invision. This is a very powerful tool, which is especially handy when working with wireframes: it allows you to use dummy data without having to look them up yourself.
  • Auto-layout: thanks to this tools, making responsive designs within Sketch becomes a piece of cake.

During the workshop, Bocchi showed us how to use these tools and what the output was, and then put us to work, so that we could use these tools ourselves and get a feel for how they could help us in our jobs. Definitely an inspiring workshop.

The importance of employee motivation

But the conference was about more than just tips & tricks, tools, and libraries. Another, important topic at the conference was the importance of employee motivation. An interesting talk on this topic was given by Valentina Culatti, Managing Director at innovation studio Unit 9. We live a in quickly changing world, in which the freedom of employees is transforming rapidly. In times when the pressure to deliver is very high, many companies are looking for new ways to guard the flexibility of employees, but also the productivity and quality of work. Culatti believes that motivating people is key to promoting the quality of work.