Founder + Creative Director, level
Nichole is the Founder and Creative Director at level. She has deep experience taking complex new technologies and shaping them into forms that foster emotional connections between consumers and brands.
Nichole’s expertise in manufacturing means production feasibility is considered from day one, and her minimalistic approach leads to timeless designs that delight users and live seamlessly in their environments. Her work has helped create new industry categories and propelled products into the global spotlight.
As a mother and female leader, Nichole strives to bring balance to her own business and to the practice of industrial design at large. The products designers create touch millions of lives - women must have a bigger impact on shaping them. Her passion for creating a diverse and inclusive industry led her to serve as Chair of IDSA’s Women in Design SF for a number of years.
level was listed as #03 in FastCompany’s Most Innovative Design Companies of 2021 and Nichole and level’s work has garnered wide recognition, including design awards such as IDEA Gold, Red Dot, iF and Spark Platinum. Before founding level, Nichole was Creative Director at HTC, and led teams at One & Co. and NewDealDesign. www.leveldesignsf.com
Architecture & Design Manager, Knoll
For more than 17 years, Alexis has held a multitude of roles within the design and architecture industry, spanning editorial writing for a home and garden publication, marketing, consulting and client relations. Currently, Alexis serves as Senior Manager at the Diversity in Design (DID) Collaborative, which was initiated in 2021 to foster systemic change by increasing diversity and improving conditions for Black creatives across the design industry. DID is a group of companies united by a common belief in the critical role that diversity plays in creating strong, impactful businesses and innovations in the design world and beyond. Alexis lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two dogs, and is passionate about sustainability, supporting local businesses, and empowering youth.
Executive Director, Advanced Design
Hector Silva brings over 7 years of teaching experience at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, the Academy of Art University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Rochester Institute of Technology at their nationally-acclaimed industrial design programs. Recognized for his contributions in academia, Hector was awarded the Young Educator of the Year by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). An active professional in the field, Hector works as an industrial design contractor through his own studio, H Design, partnering with Crate & Barrel, DesignLab, Nickelodeon, LeapFrog, Foster Grant, Insight Product Development, Lund & Company Invention, as well as various entrepreneurs. Hector is also the founder of the design nonprofit, Advanced Design (AD), an organization awarded the Special Achievement Award by the IDSA for making design education more accessible and through disrupting the mediums through which design education has been traditionally offered. AD continues to grow today, connecting students and working professionals to foster a community of design excellence. Most recently, Hector founded Offsite, a 12 week pilot program catered towards furthering design education outside of traditional academia space. This program was developed to translate the needs of the industry into course content taught by design industry leaders. The goal is to help students develop the right skill set and mentorship to thrive on the job and support them along the way.
Creative Director, Astro Studios
Joy is a Creative Director at Astro Studios, a brand and industrial design studio based in San Francisco. As a designer, she focuses on crafting compelling stories and experiences that are tailored for brands and people. She works with the team at Astro Studios to build products that bring meaningful and positive experiences to everyday life. Spending much of her upbringing in both Taiwan and New Zealand has given Joy a unique cultural background from which to draw inspiration. Joy has over 14 years of professional experience as an Industrial Designer working in agencies in Asia, Europe and North America. She has worked on a diverse range of categories ranging from homeware, furniture, consumer electronics, health & wellness and medical.
VP, Global Innovation Studios, Dell Technologies
Nicola is an accomplished Designer and Design leader with extensive experience building and leading design & innovation teams for global brands. Having had a Design Career in Automotive design working for brands such as Ford, Hyundai, and Kia she then moved on to Nokia inspired by their global reach and their way of connecting people. For Microsoft Windows and Devices group Nicola built and led a multi-disciplinary, human centered, design team across Design and Human Factors that worked to articulate disruptions, product, and experience opportunities with a focus on edge devices, and looking to ambient futures. Most recently, Nicola has joined Dell Technologies as VP, Global Innovation Studios, responsible for leading the Experience Innovation Studio teams that envision, define, and build differentiated customer experiences and proof of concepts, driving innovation and disruption across Dell’s business units and product portfolios. Nicola has worked and lived as a designer in the UK, Italy, Germany, Finland, and the US.
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