Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. —Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
What is the Uncertainty Summit?
The 2020 Design Observer Summit is a one-day event in Los Angeles on October 8, 2020, created in response to the overwhelming response from previous conference attendees to host a more interactive experience. There are only 100 tickets on sale because we are focused on an intimate expereince.
This isn’t about thought leadership: it’s about thought partnership, about interrogating our assumptions and opening our minds—and hearts—to different voices and vocabularies, new models for observation and interaction that yield substantive and sustainable change.
We believe that a level playing field changes everything. It narrows the gap between the authentic and the aspirational. It builds community by building upon a culture of mutual respect and shared intentions. It reminds us that leadership begins when we leave our egos at the door.
“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work,” writes the American writer and environmentalist Wendell Berry. “And that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.”
We hope you will join us.
Why should you attend?
This is not a TED event, nor is this a platform for power or celebrity or fame. There will be no heroes here, and no headsets. No posturing, or pundits, or proselytizers.
We begin, quite simply, by listening: not to the biggest person with the loudest voice, the slickest presentation, or the strongest opinion, but to ourselves and to each other.
The spaces for intimate dialogue are rare. This day is committed to creating that space. Because the moment we recognize that conversation is a fundamentally reciprocal act, we begin to shift the coordinates framing what was—and what can be. These are the kinds of conditions—supportive, speculative, and deeply humane— that lead to true innovation.
What’s the format?
The day will be broken up into four blocks: two focused on individual talks from new voices with big ideas, and two focused on critical conversations that extend from these talks. These conversations will be moderated by Designer Observer’s Jessica Helfand, Managing Director Hugh Weber, and Fortune’s Ellen McGirt, with co-hosts from a range of disciplines and industries.
Who should attend?
Established and emerging leaders across disciplines including, but not limited to graphic and industrial design, architecture and urban planning, public policy and public health.
And what are the themes?
We will be looking at leadership as an expression of character; at legacy, as an extension of consequence; and at loneliness, as a silent but pervasive global epidemic, and a critical social issue facing each of us.