The Design Leadership Network (DLN) is known for holding its yearly members-only summits, from 2016’s, with Ian Schrager, Veere Grenney and Raphael de Cárdenas, in Miami, to last year’s San Francisco affair with industry outsiders like Pinterest’s Tim Weingarten and gamification expert Gabe Zichermann, alongside the likes of David Kleinberg and Roman Alonso. This year’s Design Leadership Summit, unfolding October 3 to 5, will take place in Washington, D.C., with a list of bold-faced names that the organization wants to keep somewhat secret—and with good reason.
“We try not to share too much detail!” DLN founder Peter Sallick tells Business of Home. “We want people to come not to pick and choose [programs off the itinerary], but to come because they understand it’s an experience that’s about being a part of a community and not knowing where you’re going to find the value.”
“My experience over many years of doing this is that the moments when you’re most surprised are the most impactful,” he says. “Oftentimes, the interesting facets aren’t what someone is saying but how they’re saying it, or what you learn about the person who is delivering the message. Oftentimes, people get fixated on a big name. But it’s the unusual person who can sometimes bring the ‘aha,’ or the perspective we haven’t already heard.”
What he will share is that the week will incorporate a selection of talks, workshops, tours and social experiences. “What we try to do is build a program that pushes you a little bit outside of your everyday life,” he says. “There are facets that are very specific, but the real driver here is to pull our whole experience a little beyond that. The result is to make everyone better as a leader in our community.” For example, this year’s summit includes an evening hosted at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as panels with Philip Kennicott, art and architecture critic for The Washington Post, and Michael Duffy, former deputy managing editor of Time magazine, on what it’s like “to live, work and design against the backdrop of monuments, of history, of political stages.”
“I like to make sure people know this is a community experience that is one part of a lot of different things that we’re working to create,” Sallick says, pointing out that DLN has a full calendar’s worth of events happening aside from the summit itself. “Speakers, tours, dinners, workshops: It’s a multifaceted program.”