decoded11 recap

decoded11 recap
October 20, 2011 Jens

Last Saturday I was at the decoded conference in Munich and here comes the recap.

The decoded started last year as a conference for code and design. This year it went international and drew people for all over Europe to the Freizeithalle in Munich. Its goal was to bring up “International speakers from the field of generative design, computational art, information visualization and hardware tinkering are teaming up to share some insights of their work and tell their very own stories.”

Did they succeed? Well yes and no…


Fluid form the process – Fluid Forms

Stephen Williams was quite a slow train, but his way of combining technology and algorithms with the creativity of people into sellable products was really inspirational.

They tried to build a website where customers can design own accessories made from layered wood. First they tried it with sliders for defining the shape of an object. Problem was that customers didn’t understand what the sliders “did” to the object. The controls were too far away from the place where the actual change was happening.

In a next version they tried out grips residing directly on the surface of the virtual object. People understood that better, but it was too complex for them designing their own design object. “Give people more than 10 choices and they won’t make a decision at all.”

In the third version they eventually got it right: Customers can choose a map section of any place in the world and fluid forms would transform the elevation profile of the location into a wooden fruit bowl ( So you get people’s own creativity into the product without asking too much of them (Stephen called that the “democratization of design”). Furthermore you create a strong connection to the real object because the customers designed it by themself. How cool is that?

Stephen gave us a good insight look into the ideas and the problems that came along.


Bildkultur gegen Sprachkultur – Prof. Herbert W. Franke

Well… “nächste” (This is an insider joke and I refuse to write anything more than that ;-))

eBoy – Hello pixel!

Digging the style of eboy, I was looking forward to this session. It started quite strong telling us a bit about how the worlds of eboy are created. Sadly the session quickly turned into a machine gun like enumeration of projects they did, without any background of the how and why. That was garnished with a very bad English performance of both speakers.

Anyways, the art of eboy still is awesome! If you would like getting to know eboy, I recommend taking a look at their online shop at Also the iPad/iPhone App ( is strongly recommend.

The fascination of the unexpected – LIA

“Don’t try this at home” should have been the title of this session. LIA, an artist from Austria, talked about her way of creating art using processing and trial and error. Showing off an endless list of code examples and using total absence of knowledge she shaped statements like: “If you find an error and double it, you get twice the error.”

“I don’t know what it does, but it looks nice” isn’t really the kind of inspiration you should take with you.


Inquisitive devices – Kate Hartman

Kate is an example of a highly creative and passionate mind. From a glacier hugging device to plants using twitter and calling you on the phone, Kate explained a lot about her work. Her work is mostly about connecting the digital to the real. Building a digital bridge between plants and humans using botanicalls as well as electronic devices woven directly into our clothing connecting humans between each other. While kind of spacy you get the idea where this could lead in the future.

This was truly one of the highlight sessions.


New York, New York – Jer Thorpe aka blprnt

Being a great and knowledgeable speaker Jer brilliantly explained his work on project Cascade for the NY Times analysing the flow of articles through Twitter (also done in processing). The visualisation alone was a piece of art.

Another highlight was the design process for the 9/11 memorial on how the names were placed on its surface. Each name was placed in a way that it reflects its relationship to others while being visually correct based on a typographic  point of view. Details of how he solved this are described in his blog (a must read).

Too bad I couldn’t get to Dog & Pony – Gallery & Playground where he organised a farewell party for his five year old MacBook on Sunday.



The Freizeithalle was nice, but the soft drinks where much too pricey. Also the event organisation could be better. For example: the after show party was miles away, the directions to the location could be clearer (at least for people not living in Munich), drinks and food could be included. 

At this point kudos to the team of the dotnet cologne 2011. THAT event was organised perfectly!


If you are visiting Munich or even living there, you really have to see the KRAFTWERK. 3-D VIDEO-INSTALLATION at the Lenbachhaus! That’s absolutely awesome!


I guess so. Besides the flaws it was nice and I really loved the spirit and creativity. For me as primarily a software developer with a huge interest in UI and UX it was a quite inspirational day.

I loved the idea of getting things done no matter the technology but with strong ideas in mind. For me decoded was not about learning something you can use right away. It was one of many ways I can draw inspiration from.



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