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Y? Because We Like You.

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Michael Hodgson called the Y Conference “the little conference that could,” but this little conference has been chugging along for 11 years now, becoming so popular that this year, it sold out, prompting them to offer 100 additional seats in a Satellite Lounge. Although over a third of attendees were from outside the state, it’s a very Southern California conference: diverse and blonde; young and pretty–owing much to the lower-than-usual ticket prices that attracted local students.

Hodgson, along with Thinkshop instructors Petrula Vrontikis and Stefan Bucher, had taken the train from LA with Art Center students, but Bucher was regretting the decision since he had left behind the framed original artwork from the February issue of HOW which was to be entered in the silent auction.

Speaker Debbie Millman had presented earlier in the day but simply glowed after her live on-site broadcast of Design Matters, although guest Art Chantry had been puzzled about the time difference between St. Louis and San Diego and had called in with just minutes to spare. But Millman said her backup plan would have been easy: “Run the Milton Glaser show!”

The charming Doyald Young, who was teaching a Thinkshop on scripts, told us about attending Hermann Zapf’s 87th birthday last summer at a castle in Germany. Speaker and Midwestern belle Ann Willoughby sketched dutifully throughout the sessions on a gorgeous brown leather-bound book that matched her outfit perfectly. Eric Baker made his presence known by guffawing loudly during Dora Drimalas’ presentation, then when his phone rang–to the shock of all around him–he answered it while Drimalas was speaking!

At the close of the first day, after bum rushing Tim Biskup, about 400 participants stepped from utter auditorium darkness into the garden at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, where well-deserved wine flowed, pinwheels twirled amongst the boxwood and a giant orange ‘Y’ faced a thrilling view of the Pacific. Iconic birds depicted in the conference materials dipped and sailed through the brilliant blue sky, almost as if they’d been hired by conference planners.

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