22–23 January 2020
Nottingham UK
This site uses modern methods to reshape hero areas and rectangles, but your browser doesn't yet support this. To see the enhanced design, use Chrome or Firefox.

Conference day

Nottingham Albert Hall
Thursday 23rd January 2020
Registration 0830, lunch provided

Topics, speakers & schedule

Our core themes for 2020

Designers can help realise tangible visions of possible futures and help prevent unintended consequences. To this end, we'll carefully frame speculative and critical design and the value of research, objects and conversation. We'll address the climate crisis and ask what we can do. We'll continue to speak frankly about inclusivity and privilege.

We gave our speakers time and space to work together and refine our programme as a group, and we've added the first talk abstracts to our proposed schedule below.

PDF icon Convince Your Boss — 250KB PDF

Proposed schedule


09:30Opening remarks

09:45Cennydd Bowles

Cennydd Bowles

Building Better Worlds

We can’t go on like this. In the face of climate crisis, deepening inequality, and widespread automation, our infrastructures and imaginations aren’t ready for the changes ahead. But this is no time for mourning. Designers can rebuild our outdated institutions and prototype better futures to come. Along the way, we’ll reimagine design itself. User-centred methods have blinded us to social and ecological harms; we now need speculative and critical approaches to the world’s biggest challenges. Design in a world on the brink means embracing our moral duties, becoming planetary custodians, and giving the many, not just the few, a stake in the future. Better worlds are possible, if we wish them.

Cennydd Bowles is a London-based designer and futurist with seventeen years of experience advising clients including Twitter, Ford, Cisco, and the BBC. His focus today is the ethics of emerging technology. He has lectured on the topic at Facebook, Stanford University, and Google, and is a frequent speaker at technology and design events worldwide. His second book, Future Ethics, was published in 2018.

Cennydd will also be instructing Building Better Worlds, a full-day futuring & speculative design workshop.

10:30Akil Benjamin

Akil Benjamin

Clean your studio. Draw on walls. Don’t break things. Radical is close to home.

How can you leave hubris at the door and produce a piece of work?

I will talk about our methods at COMUZI to produce radical pieces of work, but the honest truth is, the methods can only do so much. It’s about your integrity of self and how you view them to employ methods appropriately.

I believe all the ‘invisible’ decisions about how you choose to be is what makes the work.

To do what I do, I’ve had to learn peacefulness, how to face fears, how to will myself through doing and how to lead my team through extreme personal growth. It hurt, but you should see what we produced.

Stepping outside yourself is simpler than you think. Being radical is close to home. None of it was easy and that’s what this talk is about.

Akil Benjamin is a biologist turned design thinker. Leading the research team at Comuzi, a design invention studio, Akil works with innovators to produce new, digital products services and experiences. Taking on a role which explores how individuals and communities experience the world around them, Akil specialises in crafting positive human experiences.

Having the privilege of working with groups and organisations such as the G20, BBC, M&C Saatchi, ASOS, Uber, and EY, Akil has the ambition to continue working with larger organisations to provoke the right people within them to look at problems in a new light, affecting change at a greater scale.

11:00Morning break

11:30Natalie Kane

Natalie Kane

Unknown Unknowns: Collecting our digital lives

As a curator specialising in collecting our lived experience of digital design, it’s often a fight against time, obsolescence and an unthinkably huge and edgeless system. It’s deeply complex and deeply human, so what would we keep for the future, and what will be left?

If we are, as Amanda Lagervist argues, living with the “persistent presence of the infinite, in the age of temporal instantaneity” what do we understand our digital culture to be? With our digital selves living in places that aren’t often clear to see, strategies to think through our experiences in digital space are vitally important.

In this talk, there will be questions for our past, present and future selves, and the occasional friendly ghost.

Natalie Kane is Curator of Digital Design at the V&A, London, where she is responsible for the acquisition, care and display of the museum's digital design collection. In 2018, Natalie was curator of the U.K. entry to the Milan Triennale, showcasing the work of research agency Forensic Architecture. Beyond the museum, Natalie is one half of Haunted Machines (together with Tobias Revell), a curatorial research project exploring cultural narratives around technology that have been commissioned by Serpentine Galleries, Ars Electronica, Design Museum and Impakt Festival. She is also a visiting tutor at the London College of Communication and the Institute of European Design in Barcelona, and an Advisory Board member of the Society for Computers and Law.

12:15Jeff Veen

Jeff Veen

Presentable Live

This year's ambitious talks may offer as many questions as answers, so we've invited web pioneer Jeff Veen to host two special sessions. Now, these are not "panels"; we all know panels destroy a good vibe. Nope, this will be more like a chat show: a live version of Jeff's hugely popular Presentable Podcast. Jeff's a skilled interviewer and he'll represent you well, but there will be multiple ways for you to inform the debate.

The long-running Presentable Podcast focuses on how we design and build the products that are shaping our digital future. Jeff and guests track the tools, trends, and methods being used by teams from the biggest companies and latest startups. In each episode, Jeff brings over two decades of experience as a designer, developer, entrepreneur, and investor as he chats with guests about how design is changing the world.

In this first session, Jeff will sit down with Cennydd Bowles, Akil Benjamin, and Natalie Kane to discuss their ideas.

Jeff Veen is a Design Partner at True Ventures, where he spends his time helping companies create better products. He does this as an advisor, as well, for companies like about.me, Medium, and WordPress. Previously, he was VP of Design at Adobe after they acquired Typekit, the company he co-founded and ran as CEO.

Jeff was also one of the founding partners of the user experience consulting group Adaptive Path. While there, he led Measure Map, which was acquired by Google. During his time at Google, Jeff designed Google Analytics and lead the UX team for Google's apps.

Much earlier, Jeff was part of the founding web team at Wired Magazine, where he helped build HotWired, Web Monkey, Wired News, and many other sites. During that time, he authored two books, HotWired Style and The Art and Science of Web Design.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Michel

12:45Lunch (provided)

13:00Women in Tech, Notts

13:45Liz Jackson

Liz Jackson

Productivity recreates disability

When designers and technologists market disability-centric products, they tend to focus on how their 'solution' increases productivity. This has the unintended negative effect of recreating disability when their intent was to ease it. In her presentation, Liz Jackson will discuss the value of letting disabled people inform what work means and how work is done. In doing so, Jackson will offer a new approach to design, not for optimization and self betterment, but rather design that allows people to exist and work and thrive as they are.

Liz Jackson is the founder of The Disabled List, a design organization that engages in disability as a creative practice. She is also a curator at Critical Axis, a community driven project that collects and analyzes disability representation in media. In 2018, Jackson created The WITH Fellowship, which partners disabled creatives with top design studios and creative spaces for three-month fellowships. You can learn more about Liz in her personal website, The Girl with the Purple Cane.

Photo Copyright © Ryan Lash

14:30Laura Kalbag

Laura Kalbag

Defying the mainstream: building technology that respects our rights

Our every move, habit, and facial expression is tracked and captured by the web and Big Tech at large. We’re told surveillance is the price of using modern technology, and that our personal information is merely used to improve our experiences. Instead, we see data about us being used to perpetuate systems of oppression and discrimination. Being designers who are also users, we also have to reckon with how we both contribute to this surveillance system and are exploited by it.

Despite what we’re so often told, technology doesn’t have to be this way. This talk will explore a few of the practical ways we can design to benefit human welfare, not corporate profits.

Laura Kalbag is a British designer living in Ireland, and author of Accessibility For Everyone from A Book Apart. She’s one third of Small Technology Foundation, a tiny two-person-and-one-husky not-for-profit organisation. At Small Technology Foundation, Laura works on a web privacy tool called Better Blocker, and initiatives to advocate for and build small technology to protect personhood and democracy in the digital network age.

On an average day, Laura does everything from design and development, learning how to run a sustainable not-for-profit, and trying to make privacy, and broader ethics in technology, accessible to a wide audience. You can find her making design decisions, writing CSS, nudging icon pixels, or distilling a privacy policy into something humans can understand. Sometimes she speaks at conferences and writes articles too.

15:15Afternoon break

15:45Florence Okoye

Florence Okoye

Designing for a collective futurity: mapping the unseen

The onus is increasingly on digital designers to go beyond considering the aesthetics and interactions of a product. Creating truly inclusive design for diverse global audiences with intersecting needs now meets questions of sustainability, ethical and advocatory design, and cybersecurity.

Overwhelming as this might be, these questions are necessary to grapple with for those concerned about questions of privacy and data rights, access and inclusion, and the social and environmental cost of the technologies used on a daily basis, which will only scale up in complexity and reach.

This talk will focus on lessons learned from a series of ongoing experiments that have been taking place amongst different sections of the design community to understand how we can navigate the problematics of product creation in the context of a capitalist hegemony driven market to inquire, critique and design collectively in the face of our voracious technological landscape.

Florence Okoye is a User Experience designer whose practice centers on using service design methods to design inclusive digital experiences. She has worked in a range of sectors from utilities to cybersecurity, using critical design to inspire design approaches that can create resilient and adaptable services in complex systems.

She currently works at the Natural History Museum where her work is focussed on using digital design as a tool for opening access to science and the natural world.

16:30Tatiana Mac

Tatiana Mac

Our Banal Binary

Binary code is the axiomatic core of computing. From ones and zeros, we built magnificent inventions that visualised black holes and cup-winning football goals.

Our reliance on the binary has a cost. Our language, laws, and technology build upon reductionist Boolean thinking: true and false, good and evil, black and white, just and unjust. The binary that gifted us could also become the most monolithic harbinger to developing nuanced solutions for social change and innovation.

We will fracture the spokes of this axiomatic wheel, exploring a new model that encourages a more intersectional and inclusive way to build for all.

Tatiana Mac is an independent American designer who works directly with organisations to build clear and coherent products and design systems. She believes the trifecta of accessibility, performance, and inclusion can work symbiotically to improve our social landscape digitally and physically. When ethically-minded, she thinks technologists can dismantle exclusionary systems in favour of community-focused, inclusive ones.

Never totally pleased with design tools, she designs in browser to bring performant, semantic, and accessible narratives into the web. Her current obsessions are optimising variable fonts, converting raster images into to SVGs, and recreating modernist paintings in CSS grid. When she can successfully escape vim, she finds new countries to explore (34 and counting).

Photo Copyright © Marcela Pulido

17:15Jeff Veen

Jeff Veen

Presentable Live

The second of today's special sessions. Jeff sits down with Liz Jackson, Laura Kalbag, Florence Okoye and Tatiana Mac to discuss their presentations and ask the questions we're all eager to ask.

Jump back to 12:15 for more details.

17:45Closing remarks



The experience I had first, second and third time round not only landed me my first job in tech, it also gave me years of the best friendships and opportunities.

Dan Blundell, Tech lead at LGSS Digital

We loved it from start to finish. Everything about the day exceeded any expectations that we had, and we came away from this amazing event with heads full of exciting ideas and a heap of new industry friends.

—Ian Harris, Director, Designer & developer Carron Media Ltd

I recently heard New Adventures described as The Glastonbury of web conferences, and I think that sums it up perfectly.

—Kirsty Burgoine, developer, Human Made

The presentations I saw here went beyond: "look what I made" or "you have to use this software". It was more about the consequences of technology, the responsibility of the people working on the web, and how we can make it accessible to everyone.

—Jan-Paul Koudstaal, Freelance Digital Designer, The Netherlands

It was crazy to hear how far some people had travelled to be here, with one guy's justification merely being, "It's New Adventures!". I'd likely buy a ticket for this event without even knowing the lineup, kind of like the Glastonbury of web conferences.

—Sam Goddard, Kind digital agency

The first NA was years ahead of its time, and I’ll never forget it. One of the most well-considered conferences I’ve ever been to. You should definitely go.

David Hughes, Designer

Another perfectly curated collection of thought-provoking talks. An occasion, a gathering, a happening where new ideas, big ideas and important ideas are shared. Ideas that invigorate, enthuse and inspire us to new adventures – wherever they may take us.

—David Hughes, Digital Consultant

The amount of love that goes into the event is obvious. It's in all the little details like the guide to Nottingham, the names of all the attendees in the conference paper, the cupcake tower, the fringe events, the after-party– there are little bits of joy in everything.

—Anthony Casey, Senior designer, interconnect/it Ltd

The whole conference was thought-provoking and asked bigger questions about the digital world that I hadn't considered. It was great to break out of my normal self for a day and listen to other people's perspectives on the future of design and tech.

—Justine Pocock, Code Enigma

What. A. Day.

—Westley Knight, author and designer


In-kind partners