CMND SHFT: A Conference for Your Inner Design Freak

— HILLARY LOUISE JOHNSON of Sactown Magazine

CMND SHFT design conference at the Guild Theatre in Oak Park, Aug. 13

Design junkies of all stripes will get a chance to rub elbows with some of the region’s most forward-thinking creatives at CMND SHFT, the homegrown design conference taking place on Aug. 13 at Oak Park’s Guild Theater.

Serving as keynote speakers at the confab will be Mark Brickey, host of the wildly popular podcast Adventures In Design, which has seen over 1.5 million downloads in three years on the air, helping demystify the dark art of design for an ever-widening audience; and Tad Carpenter, the Kansas City designer as known for his rousing personal appearances as for his distinctive illustrations, with a client list that includes Target, Coca-Cola, Macy’s, Adobe and MTV. For a taste of Carpenter’s entertaining presentation style, check out the video below, with guest appearances from some of his signature crittery characters.


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<p><a href=”″>Case-Mate Tad Carpenter Artist Profile</a> from <a href=””>Noah O Culver</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a>.</p>

New for this year is a PechaKucha event. This hypercharged presentation format originated in Tokyo in 2003 and has since caught on in over 800 cities as a way for design-minded people from all walks of life to share their creative visions. Each PechaKucha presenter shows 20 slides, each displaying for 20 seconds—that’s 6 minutes 40 seconds allotted per speaker making for a whirlwind of visual delights and a rush of bright ideas. The local gurus on tap to to brave this novel format include photographers Raoul Ortega and Melissa Uroff (founder of Tube Magazine), cocktail craftsman/artist Ryan Seng, Hot Italian restaurant owner Andrea Lepore, Honey Agency co-founder Meghan Philips, and graphic designer Jason Malmberg (who also happens to be Sactown’s longtime art director).

A pop-up design shop featuring original art, jewelry and ceramics from local makers will offer attendees a chance to take home the work of their favorite designers. 

Adventures in Design Podcast

The event will also serve as a place for designers and business owners to get to know one another and demystify the process of working together. “The first question is always, ‘What do I do with a designer?’ Then the question is, ‘How do I find one?’ and ‘How do I talk to them?’ ” says CMND SHFT co-founder Ryan Donahue, who, as a photographer and a business owner (he co-owns popular K Street restaurants Mother and Empress Tavern), knows the design world from both sides of the creative industry. “Good design in business today isn’t just a benefit, it’s vital,” he adds.

In a world where professional conferences are often out of reach for freelancers—an early bird ticket to this year’s Adobe Max event is $1,295—the cost of general admission is a mere $45, in large part because CMND SHFT is an all-volunteer effort. “It’s purely a passion project for all involved,” says Donahue.

CMND SHFT will take place Saturday, Aug. 13, 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Guild Theater in Oak Park (2828 35th St.). $45 general admission. Visit to purchase tickets or for more information.