Surya Vanka

Surya Vanka

Founder of Authentic Design, former Director of UX at Microsoft, USA

Surya Vanka is a transdisciplinary designer who has worked at the leading edge of physical and digital experiences for over 25 years. He is founder of Authentic Design, president emeritus of the Seattle Design Festival, chair of Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) prestigious 50th Anniversary conference, and chair of Interaction Design Association (iXDA) Interaction Week 2019. Surya was director of user experience at Microsoft for over a decade leading the central design excellence team, a tenured professor of design at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign and a fellow at the highly respected Center for Advanced Study.

He is known as the inventor of the widely adopted DesignSwarms® method, an agile lightweight design technique used in business, non-profit and education worldwide. The DesignSwarms® method and platform covers processes such as data driven design, service design, inclusive design, conversation design and social impact design. The approach has been used at companies like Amazon, Autodesk, Callison, Deutsche Bank, T-Mobile, Microsoft, and REI. It has also been used at non-profits like Clinton Global initiative, NetImpact, FabLabHub and Global Humanitarian Lab, and used for teaching design at universities like Boston College, University of Illinois, the Ohio State University, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Srishti Institute of Art and Design, and United World Institute Of Design.

Surya has facilitated design leadership programs including World Design Organization Leadership Circle, Microsoft UX Leadership Program, PARK Raymond Global Design Leadership Retreat, and DMI Design Value Scorecard. He led the annual Microsoft UX Day and Microsoft UX Awards for over a decade, helped shape the influential industry framework, the UK Design Council Double Diamond. Surya won the Microsoft Engineering Best Practice Awards twice, Ohio State University 50th Anniversary Distinguished Design Alumnus Award, Microsoft Achievement Award, the Accessibility Achievement Award, the World Brand Congress Leadership Award, and several other industry recognitions.

He is member of World Design Organization and has served on the jury of global design awards like Singapore Design Mark, and Cradle to Cradle Challenge. Surya has served on the boards of organizations like the Design Management Institute, Seattle Interactive and Design in Public. He frequently keynotes speeches at the most prestigious conferences and has won top speaker awards three times. Surya led the world’s largest student design competition, Imagine Cup for three years, and is design accreditor for institution of higher education in Europe and the United States. His work has appeared in numerous publications and news programs, including TEDx, Form, I.D., Design Council, WIRED, Interactions, the BBC and National Public Radio. Surya is the author of two books on design, several publications, and has led programs and taught design on every continent but Antarctica.

Come join me at my





February 18, 2021





Unleashing Swarm Creativity to Solve the World’s Biggest Social Challenges

Unleashing Swarm Creativity to Solve the World’s Biggest Social ChallengesToday, we are faced with dramatic upsurge in business and social challenges that are increasingly more volatile, uncertain, changing, and ambiguous. Traditional methods of problem solving, even approaches like design thinking that claim to be holistic and able to take on massive and wicked problems are not living up to promises; they are too slow and too tied to old hierarchies. In this talk, Surya Vanka will describe an emerging paradigm that is taking shape which draws on the creativity of swarms. Even if no single individual has the answer to hard problem, using methods of distributed problem-solving moves the creative process at agile pace and brings more inclusive co-design mechanisms to converge rapidly on more appropriate solutions. He will describe the Design Swarms platform, the state-of-the-art method today, that has been used to address some of the world’s hardest business challenges as well as to take on some the most urgent social problems. The success of Design Swarms is from the power they unleash of untapped creative capacity around the world through the combination of swarm creativity with mature design-led approaches, which offers a remarkably powerful approach for our times. He will describe share mindsets, methods, and solutions to hard problems in business, social impact and education.

Surya Vanka


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