July 19, 2018

In/Visible Talks 2018: The Right to Do Nothing, Creative Blackouts, and Breaking Things

Artist Jenny Odell entertained and inspired us in her talk about reclaiming the right to do nothing.

Connected through our phones, and even our watches, we are pretty much answerable to someone else 24/7. And more of our precious time has become commercialized and monetized. “When are we not at work?” Artist Jenny Odell asked during her talk at the In/Visible Talks conference in January 2018.

It’s scary when you think about it. So in “How to Do Nothing,” Jenny offered some alternatives to our overly busy and noisy lives, and she encouraged us to pursue them. Sharing experiences from her recent wanderings around rose gardens and her crazy-cool gig as Artist in Residence at Recology SF (aka the dump), she laid out her philosophy. “Doing nothing is a right, not a luxury,” she said, and she backed up her points with quotes from visionaries including John Muir and John Cleese.

Since hearing Jenny’s talk, many of us have gotten hooked on “bird-noticing”. Never heard of that before? You’ll find out about it when you watch the video of her talk.

Photography by GammaNine Photography

Marta Harding, Design Lead at IDEO, shares her tools for designing through a creative blackout

It’s Week 10 of a 12-week project—an $800,000 project—and you’re about bomb. Big time. You’ve got nothing, your team’s got zip, and your client is beyond stressed. “Snap out of it!” you tell yourself. But this is not one of those deadline-pressure nightmares, where you wake up in a sweat and realize it’s a new day and everything is A-OK. This is a real life. And this really happened to Marta Harding.

As Design Lead for IDEO, Marta has had a few opportunities to lead her team through creative blackouts, and the lessons she’s learned have helped her embrace the ambiguity, rediscover the light at the end of the creative tunnel, and restore credibility with the client.

In her talk “Where’s the Light? Lessons in Fumbling Through Creative Darkness,” presented at the January 2018 In/Visible Talks conference, she shared with us some of the tools she uses, including:

1. saying “I don’t know (yet)”
2. shifting from should to could
3. changing the context

Photography by GammaNine Photography

As a Hardware Interface Designer for Google, Basheer Tome knows you have to break a lot of things to build something betterEngineering, design, science, art, and play are all part of Basheer Tome’s creative process. Once you’ve watched the video of Basheer’s talk, you’ll never look at your TV’s remote control the same way again.

In “Faking the Future,” presented at January 2018’s In/Visible Talks conference, Basheer shared images of holding, feeling, studying, and even smashing different gadgets to learn what worked and what didn’t. We laughed at some of the lengths he went to, at the same time we were in awe of how he brilliantly deconstructed and reconfigured products and ideas in the process of designing Google’s Daydream Controller.

If you’re looking for some entertaining inspiration for yours, check out the video of his talk here.


We’ve been hard at work programming the 2019 conference with talks about the process, inspiration, and challenges of being a creative professional. We can’t wait to share it with you. Sign up to be the first to know when tickets go on sale.