Fluxible 2021 brings fresh faces, new experiences to the UX festival

By Kelly Pedro on Feb 19, 2021 3 min read

When she was sitting in her music room in her Boston home playing Indian classical music on the violin during Fluxible TV, former Fluxible speaker Meena Kothandaraman didn’t think she’d be co-chairing the Canadian user experience festival this year.

“Now I’ve set a precedent,” said Kothandaraman, with a laugh, pointing out she’s had three different roles with Fluxible..

When Kothandaraman, who runs UX research firm twig + fish with business partner Zarla Ludin, spoke at Fluxible 2019, the musicians playing between speakers stood out. The music gave her peace and a chance to reflect and reset between speakers, she said. But she also noticed that there was no Indian music and mentioned to Fluxible co-chair Mark Connolly that she’s been trained in Indian classical music. 

So last year, Kothandaraman, who went to India every summer during her childhood to learn Indian classical music with her two siblings, spoke during Fluxible TV and was a musician.  

Kothandaraman has brought enthusiasm and energy to planning this year’s edition of Fluxible, stepping in to co-chair Fluxible with Connolly after Fluxible co-founder and co-chair Robert Barlow-Busch stepped away.

Fluxible began in 2012. Over the years Fluxible has grown from a conference to a weeklong UX festival, featuring Fluxible Meetups, the Fluxible Education Summit, Fluxible Workshops, and Fluxible Conference.

Fluxible 2021 will build on last year’s Fluxible TV, which was a half day of livestream programming because of the pandemic. The 2021 edition of Fluxible will build on the success of last year’s Fluxible TV but expand to a week.

“This year is different from last year because last year we were reacting to a situation and we figured all we could handle was a half day of programming and we were happy to get through that,” said Connolly. “So in 2021, it’s an expansion by choice into something more festive. We’re trying to capture some of the flavour of what Fluxible had become by 2019.”

Kothandaraman said she’s most excited about the “awesome lineup” of speakers.

“I’m truly excited that when I look at our lineup, it’s a representation of our world — not just one world, but a blended world,” she said.

Fluxible traditionally has a mix of speakers from both the user experience design sector and speakers from adjacent disciplines. That is intentional, said Connolly, because speakers from adjacent disciplines bring a different perspective to the work that UX people do.

In the past, Fluxible has featured Tarek Loubani, an emergency physician in London, Ontario, who talked about his work with the Glia Project, which brings low cost 3D-printed medical devices to harsh environments where seconds count, such as the Gaza Strip. It has also featured Nora Young who talked about creating Spark, CBC’s national radio show and podcast about technology and culture, at a time when the media found itself in a digital flux that changed its landscape.

This year’s broadcast will be the same, with Peter Eszenyi, a visual effects designer, joining the broadcast. Eszenyi is a creative director whose portfolio includes major motion pictures like “Blade Runner 2049,” “Ghost In The Shell,” “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” and the Netflix Dark Crystal series.

Eszenyi is one of three speakers already announced for Fluxible 2021, with more on the way. Other speakers announced so far are:

  • Ana Sofia Gonzalez, a senior designer at Microsoft, who shares insights on how she helps products adopt innovative cultures
  • Ayush Chauhan, a managing partner and co-founder of Quicksand, a design strategy consultancy, who promotes design for social impact

Fluxible will announce more speakers in the coming weeks on its site, fluxible.ca.

Zeitspace has been sponsoring Fluxible since 2017.

Kelly Pedro

Written by Kelly Pedro

Kelly Pedro is a journalist at Zeitspace.