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Designing Vox Conversations 2017

Giving ‘em something to talk about

Dani Balenson

For the second year running, Vox hosted Vox Conversations — a two day conference that brought thinkers and makers together from across the country to ideate on the current status of policy in the United States. What makes Vox Conversations more of an unconference than a conference is the audience’s ability to steer the conversation towards topics they actually want to talk about. With that in mind, we expanded on last year’s design system and added in new bits of copywriting, swag, and on-site elements that all centered around community, conversation, and participation.

Front door in action
Dani Balenson

The Studio Theater venue
Dani Balenson
The Speaker Sessions interior theater
Dani Balenson
The conversation bubble from the logo became a motif throughout the design system, along with icons and new copy

Our design team always aims to make swag that’s not just fun, but also useful and relevant to the event we’re designing for. There’s nothing worse than free junk that sits around your room after a conference or worse, gets thrown out right when participants leave the venue. Everything for Vox Conversations revolved around ideating and interacting — from the language on the entrance door, to the blank notebooks in the welcome kits, to the Unconference Schedule wall (which is created in real-time as participants write down their ideas and post them up).

Attendees writing down conversation starters for the Unconference Sessions
Dani Balenson

Unconference Wall detail
Dani Balenson
Branded napkins were a fun-sized touchpoint
Dani Balenson

What made this event easy to execute was having a strong foundation from the previous year. We knew what colors we had to watch when printing, knew what parts of the event the audience enjoyed the most, and could have fun with broadening the design system while still keeping it cohesive and grounded. Environmental details like the heat-molded brick vinyl and branded napkins were all new touchpoints for the conference brand and seemed to really resonate with the audience. With two Unconferences under our belts, we’re gearing up for the Fall edition and thinking about more innovative executions for the design system.

Thanks to the whole team —
Design: Dani Balenson, Carrie Ruby, Zach Mattheus, Georgia Cowley, Shawn Moriarty, and Warren Schultheis.
Conferences team: Lia Kennett, Jen Leibow, Shannon Thompson, Jill Pendergast, Kim Last, Michelle Berg, Shana Westlake, Christine Hopkins, Marty Moe, and Adam Tow.
Vox Editorial: Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, Sarah Kliff, Allison Rockey, and Andrew Golis.