Auckland Design Coffee Morning
Imperial Lane Café
Every Tuesday 7:30am
A good idea at the time,
a surprisingly great idea 6 months on
Roughly six months ago at the UX Auckland meet up Penny Hagen from Smallfire floated the idea of a group of us meeting early in the morning for a coffee before we start our work days. We put out an open invite for anyone interested in design to join us. Of course what seems like a great idea after a couple of beers in the evening feels like a terrible idea once your alarm goes off on a freezing winter morning, but somehow a small group of us dragged ourselves out of bed and made it to our elected café. We have been meeting weekly with a diverse range of design orientated people ever since.
This has turned out to be the highlight of the Lushai Auckland week. Arriving consistently 5 minutes late to find Penny already holding the fort we hide out at the back of Imperial Lane Café and wait for our fix and to see who will turn up. Including Penny and myself we have a core group of about 6 or 7 people who are regulars and a revolving and diverse group who drop in and out depending on the week (it’s not easy to be in town at 7:30am! And I think it says something about the quality of the conversations that people so often make the effort).
A more diverse Tuesday morning
The most gratifying aspect of this meetup is the diversity of those who attend. They Include user experience types, graphic designers, photographers, researchers, graduate students, engineers, and pretty much anyone who has a link to design. They range from independent design practitioners new to New Zealand and looking to make contacts in the community to managers in large design focused organisations such as NZTE and Optimal Usability.
The coffee mornings are purposefully unstructured. There are no agendas or presentations (you even have to buy your own coffee) which means there are usually 2-3 conversations happening simultaneously molding themselves around the interests of whoever is there on the day. The result is an enjoyable, no-stress, low-commitment but surprisingly engergising start to the hardest morning of the week.
Personally, it is the broadness of the conversations I find so enjoyable, taking me out of my areas of comfort and bringing a broader perspective to whatever design issues I am wrestling with that week. Off the top of my head I remember conversations about researching how the elderly interact with robots designed to care for them, the trials and tribulations of running different size design organisations, IP issues for new products, aesthetics, collaborative design, research, service design, cycling, parenting, and always the ubiquitous discussions about design thinking.
Life outside coffee
The conversations have a life outside of the café as well. A recent result of conversations initiated at the coffee morning is the next NZ Innovation, Business & Design Thinking Drinks (As unfriendly a name to tweet about as there has ever been) where AUT design masters students will be presenting flash talks on their ideas and research.
So, hardy Aucklanders, you should come along and sup and gossip with us. I promise it will well worth your time. You can join our Meetup group, follow us on twitter @AKLDesignCoffee or just turn up.
We meet every Tuesday at Imperial Lane Cafe, someone is there from 7:30 am but people turn up when they can, and even if you don’t get there till 9 you can be pretty sure someone will still be there.
There’s also a design coffee morning in Wellington although I haven’t had the pleasure of attending one of these yet. I imagine they are similar but perhaps windier and slightly more stylish. You can find about them here.