look back at blend 2021

March 12-14, 2021

held virtually

2021 Speakers

Janine Barry headshot


Assistant VP Digital Engagement
Manulife Bank

Dayna Cadet headshot


Clarity Coach and Founder
I See You Sis

Chase Denomme headshot


blend host
Product Designer

Tiana Eghdam headshot


Advertising & Design
Work Placement Admin
Humber College

Etienne Fang headshot


Redefining Having it All

Chris Graham headshot


Founder and Principal
Tell People

Markus Grupp headshot


blend host
Senior Director, Design
Kira Systems

Sarah Keast headshot


Senior Experience Designer

Kem-Laurin Lubin headshot


MA, Ph.D Candidate,
Design Strategist, Innovation Coach

Joe MacLeod headshot


and End

Davis Neable headshot


UX Director, CET

David Parker headshot



Deanna Ritchie headshot


UX Lead

Anoosha Sajjad headshot


Senior Experience Designer

Karin Schmidlin headshot


Cofounder & Design Lead,
Carbon Labs Agency
Lecturer, UX Design and Innovation,
University of Waterloo

Susan Simon Daniels headshot

Simon Daniels

Senior Manager, UX Research

Kelly Small headshot


Executive Creative Director
Grassroots Inc.
The Conscious Creative

Victoria Tow headshot


Product Designer

Cam Wind headshot


Creative Director
Pilothouse Digital

2021 Schedule

This years lineup of speakers featured an incredible group of design and business leaders ready to inspire. BLND 2021 offers 3 days of flexible content. Sessions premiere at the time scheduled and will include a live QA session - be sure to tune in! Complete recordings will be available to attendees until March 20, 2021.

FRIDAY, March 12, 2021

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10:00 AM

Ends. The Missing Critical Product Feature

We are lost, oscillating between powerful, short term, individualistic desires satisfied by consumerism and an overburdened society that passively picks up the fallout of that consumption. At one end of this consumer lifecycle we celebrate new products, showering them with our attention. At the other end we shamefully talk about plastic in the sea. We fail to connect the two issues in a common narrative. One happens inside the consumer experience. One happens as part of social concern. The consumer lifecycle, the narrative foundation of this process, is broken beginning from end. It is this which stops us dealing with consumerism's biggest problems. We need to create emotionally engaging endings as part of the consumer experience. This is not a small task. As I set out in the previous Ends book, it is a deep, societal framing that has led to this bias in the consumer lifecycle. Established over centuries through aspects of religion, social changes and economic needs.We need to create endings in our consumer experiences to improve the ills of consumption, to change business culture and to inspire consumer responsibility.

Joe Macleod
Founder, and End

11:00 AM

Designing for a Sustainable World

The growing ecological concerns pose many challenges for the world, including designers who design for the products, services and experiences for society, at large. Many designers feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness, as well as a lack of understanding of how to engage in and provide meaningful value that can help mitigate some of the ecological challenges we face. This talk targets those seeking to engage within their circle of influence and seek to design more sustainably.

Kem-Laurin Lubin
MA, Ph.D Candidate, Design Strategist & Innovation Coach

11:45 AM


12:30 PM

Coffee Chat or Meditation Option

1:15 PM

In conversation with... The Conscious Creative

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Kelly Small is unable to join us today. Networking coffee chats will be extended to run from 12:30 - 1:30 PM, where possible. The remainder of the sessions will move forward as planned.

It can be difficult to live according to our values in a complicated world. At a time when capitalism seems most unforgiving but the need for paying work remains high, it is important to learn how we can be more mindful and intentional about our impact — personal, social, economic, and environmental.

As designer and creative director Kelly Small had to navigate a crisis of ethics and burnout in their career in advertising. We can admit our complicity in problematic systems and take on the responsibility of letting our own conscience guide our decisions.

Kelly Small
Executive Creative Director, Grassriots Inc.
Author of The Conscious Creative

This conversation will be hosted by
Karin Schmidlin, Cofounder & Design Lead, Carbon Labs Agency, and Professor, University of Waterloo, Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business.

2:00 PM

Doing the Right Thing is F*cking Hard

David's need to add more joy into his life and real purpose to his work sparked a complete life change that has allowed him to bring unexpected happiness to hundreds of patients. A designer and technologist, David has overcome endless technical, bureaucratic and regulatory challenges to craft bespoke Virtual Reality experiences for dying patients. The result? He's not only increased their quality of life, he's also inspired thousands in the process.

David Parker
CEO, Wishplay

SATURDAY, March 13, 2021

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10:00 AM

Before, Now, and Next
Capturing the Human Experience in the Realities of Remote Research

In the virtual workplace, quantitative data has gotten richer, but there are so many obvious gaps in the qualitative. How can we constructively overcome those gaps to prioritize human touch?

Susie Simon Daniels
Senior Manager, UX Research, Oracle

11:00 AM

What Cubicles Can Teach Us About Virtual Communications

If the history of the cubicle tells us anything, it’s that most of your career has been a protracted struggle to communicate with people in spite of being at the office.”
Most predictions about “the future of work” have focused on physical office design. Will companies return to large offices or smaller satellites? What will those offices look like? How should employees optimize their home office?
What’s missing from these conversations is the role that communication norms play in creating an inclusive, collaborative, and productive work environment. While office design is easy to see, the effectiveness of that design always depends on how people relate to each other.
Chris Graham draws together the history of modern office design, as well as recent research into communication patterns at open-plan offices, to highlight key considerations for building a remote work environment that people actually enjoy.
You’ll learn (i) why your office has sustained itself thus far into the pandemic; (ii) how to recreate “spontaneous” and “informal” interactions in a virtual setting; and (iii) if you are investing in a post-COVID office redesign, how to make sure that investment works for your people.

Chris Graham
Founder and Principal, Tell People

12:00 PM

Break & Yoga

1:00 PM

Coffee Chat

2:00 PM

Keeping Growth Design Good (live panel)

Over the past couple of years, it has become clear that design and tech’s obsession with growth has had dire ramifications on human wellbeing, society, and the environment. Join our panelists for an open conversation about the dangerous impact of business driven behavioural design and how we, as designers, can keep growth design good.

Chase Denomme
Product Designer, Vidyard

Victoria Tow
Product Designer, Flipboard

Cam Wind
Creative Director, Pilothouse Digital

3:00 PM

Leadership, Collaboration and Onboarding in these Remote Realities

How do we keep our teams inspired, motivated, and purpose-driven in a virtual space?

Janine Barry
Assistant VP Digital Engagement, Manulife

Davis Neable
UX Director, Manulife

Deanna Ritchie
UX Lead, Manulife

4:00 PM

Mixology Course

It's Saturday afternoon...  Finish the day strong.

SUNDAY, March 14, 2021

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10:00 AM

Finding and Navigating a Purpose-Driven Career in 2021 in Conversation

Finding a job during COVID-19 has been challenging. Finding your purpose in your work, perhaps even more so.  In this fireside chat, Tiana  and Dayana will explore ways of finding your purpose while also finding a pay cheque in 2021. Topics will include, dispelling the "dream job" myth, exploring non-traditional career trajectories, not compromising your values to do your work and providing tactical tips for landing your next role.

Dayana Cadet
Clarity Coach and Founder, I See You Sis

Tiana Eghdam
Advertising & Design Work Placement Admin, Humber College

11:00 AM

How to Prepare and What to Expect with UX Interviews

Sponsored by: Konrad

Anoosha Sajjad
Senior Experience Designer, Konrad

Sarah Keast
Senior Experience Designer, Konrad

Adam Guay-Mosey
Director of Talent, Konrad

12:00 PM

"How We (re)Define Having It All" in conversation

Etienne Fang
Founder, Redefining Having It All