MIX Design Day

This year’s MIX Design Day, powered by MIX Southwest Michigan, was full of emotions — literally. From the very Instagram-able venue of Wind + James, to new friends made in group activities and closing happy hour; it was a day of great content & inspiration.


The Lineup

Inspiring people with inspiring words:

  • What Makes Us Love (or Hate) a Product? presented by Michael Elwell of Richmond Institute for Design + Innovation at Western Michigan University
  • Nostalgia, A Blessing and a Curse: Triggering Memory to Build Better Experiences presented by Kyle Walters of Whirlpool, Savannah Walters of Newell Brands
  • Feeling Spacey: How to Harness Emotion in the Built Environment presented by a diverse panel of environmental designers
  • Hijack to High Five: Emotions of Creative Critique presented by Lea Stewart of Newell Brands, Sarah Mansberger of Southwest Michigan First
  • The Living Room of Denver presented by Rick Utting of Landscape Forms
  • Emotional Connections: How Brands are Built presented by Kevin Romeo of Rhino Media
  • Brand Trust presented by Elizabeth Rees of Chasing Paper


Photo by MIX Southwest Michigan


The Goods

Takeaways from the event included Mood Rings for Grown-Ups, a desktop calendar of Daily Emotions and my personal favorite, the infamous Dammit Doll available in various colors & fun patterns.

Photo by MIX Southwest Michigan


The Activities

Throughout the day we broke into smaller groups for activities such as creating a commercial for a beer-coozy while portraying a certain emotion, critiquing found-objects based on another emotion, and writing a haiku with an assigned word and emotion. Collectively we presented our interactions — and I was even found the courage to present my group’s haiku. Like I said, the day was FULL of emotion.


Photo by MIX Southwest Michigan


The People

Sarah Mansberger of Southwest Michigan First explained the Amygdala Hijack and how to prevent that little monster from creeping up on you during a critique — or in any other life situation where you want to keep your cool. This is a very valuable lesson for any designer, teaching us not to take criticism personally and not to get too attached to your work.

Rhino’s Kevin Romeo talk about Brand Story. With very few words, he defined a story victory as “authenticity + shine + audience,” which led to the notion that “empathy takes time, but when trust is built, deep connections are forged and emotions are shared.” Then brought it on home by explaining that “stories build empathy, empathy transfers emotion” which was beautifully displayed in his featured video on first responders in Utah.

Elizabeth Rees, who hilariously acknowledged that she was the only thing standing between us and the courtyard full of drinks, spoke on Brand Trust. It was great hearing her story on how she created a removable wallpaper empire without a design or business background.


Photo by MIX Southwest Michigan


The Takeaway

Before MIX Design Day my definition of a designer, by trade, referred to a graphic designer. However, MIX Design Day was a celebration of all designers alike: graphic designers, environmental designers, web designers, architects, engineers, freelancers, small business owners, CEOs and beyond. Together we can embrace emotion within our work and create better products and experiences for the end-user.

Photo by Johanna White