Surya Vanka is a transdisciplinary designer who has worked at the leading edge of physical and digital experiences. He is founder of Authentic Design, president of the Seattle Design Festival and chair of Interaction Week 2019.
Surya was director of user experience at Microsoft, a tenured professor of design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a fellow at the prestigious Center for Advanced Study. He is creator of Design Swarms method, a light weight design technique used in business, non-profit and education worldwide.
Surya won the Microsoft Engineering Best Practice Awards twice, Ohio State University 50th Anniversary Distinguished Design Alumnus Award, Microsoft Achievement Award, Accessibility Achievement Award, World Brand Congress Leadership Award and several other industry recognitions. He frequently keynotes speeches at the most prestigious conferences and has won top speaker awards three times. He is judge for Singapore Design Awards, and reviver for design curricula for universities in the United States and Europe.
Surya’s design 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 taught design on every continent but Antarctica.
ZAMORA graduated from Havana Design Institute (ISDi) in 2000 and worked for four years in prestigious cultural organizations in Havana, Cuba. In 2004 he immigrated to Quito, Ecuador and later arrived in the U.S. in 2006. He lives in the 19th century Victorian neighborhood of Lafayette Square near downtown St. Louis, with his wife Juliana, daughters Aitana and Lucía, and a dog named Luna.
His early professional endeavors in Cuba included The Office of Historical Restoration for Old Havana, Alicia Alonso's National Ballet of Cuba, Casa de las Américas, Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba and cigar company Habanos S.A. Between 2000 and 2004 he served as Art Director for the magazines: Opus Habana, Gaceta de Cuba, Anales del Caribe, Cuba en el Ballet and Conjunto. Magazines, book covers and posters resumed his professional life in Havana.
He is a former President of AIGA St. Louis and serves as a brand chair on several boards. He cherishes a fondness for poster design, Russian cartoons, propaganda art and cigars -Cuban or not. He can often be found at Brennan’s Cigar Lounge daydreaming of his next poster show. His illustrations have been published by the New York Observer, The Boston Globe, Ad Age, American Lawyer, The Wall Street Journal, Alive, and St. Louis Magazine.
Heavy Heavy does branding, product design, and creative consultation in support of new ideas. Heavy Heavy has been building dope things for universities, enterprise companies, non-profits, consumer product lines, and food & beverage brands sine 2013.
Steven Darby, Creative Director and founder of Heavy Heavy. Darby was born in New Orleans to really smart parents working in local news and politics. He became interested in graphic design at least as early as 4th grade and got his first design job at 17. Darby spent about 10 years on community and college radio, about 15 years djing, and has been making hip-hop on laptops and drum machines since high school. Darby's been hanging out with his second-favorite person for 13 years, and together, made his favorite person 12 years ago. In 2013, Darby started a creative studio called Heavy Heavy, with a lot of help from the smartest people he knows. Heavy Heavy makes new things using computers, machines, and their brains, for money, food, and fun.
Josh Seltzer, Experience Director, Partner. Josh was born and raised in New Jersey and groomed by Philly attitude, better known as brotherly love. He didn’t realize design was a thing until around 6th grade when someone commented on his satirical logo drawings, informing him that people get paid money to make real ones. Most of his childhood and teenage years revolved around illustrating, skateboarding, learning guitar, eating cannolis, and trying anything creative. After numerous manual labor jobs, construction sites, pizza delivery, and learning a thing or two at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, he dove head first into design freelancing. Josh stuck to his ‘fail, learn, succeed’ schedule in design and entrepreneurship for 12 more years. In the fall of 2017 he moved, with all of his heart, into the Heavy Heavy studio as a partner.
NCARB, NCIDQ, RID, LEED AP BD+C DIRECTOR, INTERIOR DESIGN. As the Director of Interior Design in the Saint Louis office of BSA LifeStructures, Leah coordinates the design efforts between the firm’s architecture and interior design groups for the firm’s Healing, Learning and Discovery markets.
She brings a unique perspective from her integrated design background as both a licensed architect and registered interior designer. That background allows her to elevate and strengthen project design quality, through cross-discipline collaboration allowing projects to have a cohesiveness inside and out.
Andreas Bell has worked in the Industrial Design field for nearly twenty years. He received an undergraduate degree in design while studying in his native Germany, and travelled to the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Kansas. Andreas currently serves as the president of TEAMS Design USA, Inc.