2015/2016 Initiative Leads

IxDA relies on individual initiative, contribution, sharing and self-organization as the primary means for us to achieve our goals. Meet some of the individuals from our community who have taken on leadership roles for our initiatives.


The annual interaction design conference organized by IxDA, takes place in Helsinki from 2-4 March 2016: three days of presentations and workshops. You will have unique opportunities to share your point of view and get inspired by stories from around the world. Sami Niemelä (Finland) and Peter Bihr (Germany) are the conference co-chairs, supported by Otto Virta.

photo: Sami Niemelä

Sami Niemelä (Finland)


Sami is an internationally awarded designer driven by the curiosity towards the world, for making sense of things new & better. He has made things for the web since the 90s, mobile since 2000 and feels is just starting to get the hang of it all. He has been practicing interaction design since 2004, and lectures on user experience, interaction and service design at Aalto University School of Business. He is also a frequent keynote speaker in events relating design, future and emerging technologies all over Europe. In his work, Sami enjoys most the space in between the abstract and concrete. He is driven by a passion for making sense of things that are new and hard. Currently Sami is the creative director and one of the founding partners at the Helsinki based award winning design firm Nordkapp. On the side, he co-founded the now-1000-strong IxDA Helsinki late 2008, and serves as a board member for the Finnish visual communication professional association Grafia. In his spare time Sami likes to obsess over coffee, ride bicycles and spend quality time with his family.

photo: Peter Bihr

Peter Bihr (Germany)


Peter Bihr is the founder and Managing Director of The Waving Cat GmbH. He explores how emerging technologies change the world we live in, and helps spread the insights of innovators. He does this in various roles: As an strategic advisor, he helps organizations excel in an environment shaped by digitization, connectedness and rapid change. By initiating and chairing independent events like ThingsCon, UIKonf, Cognitive Cities Conference, Ignite Berlin or TEDxKreuzberg, he fosters communities of innovation and the exchange ideas. As Program Director for the conference NEXT Berlin, he highlights the macro trends that shape digital businesses in years to come. Peter studied Communications, Media and Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin and University of Sydney and holds masters degrees from both universities. Peter is based in Berlin, Germany.

photo: Otto Virta

Otto Virta (Finland)


Otto is a self taught designer and developer with 15 years of working experience in digital products and services. After managing his own design consultancy for seven years, he’s currently working as a product owner in Foodie.fm, where he tries to define the future of online retail. In his work, Otto focuses in getting the maximal impact using existing platforms, as well as doing speculative work on future technologies. In he’s free time Otto is an active member and co-chair in the Finnish IxDA. Occasionally he has to write bios about him self in third-person.

Interaction Awards

Founded in 2011, the Interaction Awards recognize and celebrate examples of excellence in interaction design across domains, platforms, environments and cultures. The Awards are an annual competition seeking out work that embodies and improves meaningful relationships between people and the products and services they use. For 2015/2016, the Awards are led by MJ Broadbent (United States) and Thomas Kueber (Germany).

MJ Broadbent

MJ Broadbent (United States)


MJ is the the Design Director for Transportation at GE Software, where her team is responsible for custom software solutions that connect people, data and machines via Predix, GE's Industrial Internet platform. During her 25-year design career, MJ's expertise and leadership has benefited organizations such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The College Board, Johnson & Johnson, The McGraw-Hill Companies (including Standard & Poor's), Pfizer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Sony Electronics, and the United Nations. IxDA is central among MJ's numerous professional affiliations. Starting in 2006 as a local leader for the vibrant New York City group, she led event programming there 2008-2010, helped to spearhead the first IxDA global mentoring initiative, went on to co-chair the Interaction11 conference, and then served on IxDA's Board of Directors from 2011 to 2014 in the office of Treasurer. MJ earned her BS in graphic design from DAAP College at the University of Cincinnati and remains grateful to the rise of the interaction design profession (and the amazing arc of her career path) for providing a real-world graduate degree. As an evangelist for sketching and visual thinking, she coaches people in reclaiming their innate drawing skills through instructional workshops of her own design.

Thomas Kueber

Thomas Kueber (Germany)


Thomas leads the product organization of banbutsu.com - a Berlin based start-up dedicated to the internet of things - by day and is occupied with running IxDA Berlin at night. To bring interaction design to an even bigger audience he as well co-founded UXcamp Europe, a 500 participant free conference that brings together designers, researchers and developers from all over the world every summer. Thomas is passionate about humanizing technology ever since he got his hands on his first Commodore 64 and never gets tired of speaking about it at conferences, workshops or kitchen-tables. While his professional work regularly takes him to all the right and wrong places across Europe, the US and Asia he as well enjoys his Kreuzberg backyard on a sunny spring-day, a good bass-heavy tune from his kitchen speakers and an occasional sip of crisp of white wine.

Interaction Design Education Summit

Formalized in 2013, the goal of the Education Summit is to better understand the global problem space of interaction design education both in formal and informal formats. Academics, mentors, conference speakers, continuing education creators, students, practitioners and employers are all encouraged to lend their voice.


Dave Malouf (United States)


Dave Malouf is an observer and pattern recognizer who is passionate about how technology can be a force for positive impact on human beings. With a background in anthropology, design, technology, education and management he is a consultant who helps organizations amplify the impact of their design teams through organizational strategy, recruitment planning, and team mentorship.

Dave is also an entrepreneur who has co-founded Peer Loft. The mission of Peer Loft is to create products and services that help teams amplify their creativity. Their first product, Studio Stream, will help design organizations and education institutions expand their design studios over distances without sacrificing the key elements that make a studio a powerful tool for creativity and team learning.

Student Design Challenge

The challenge is open to current undergraduate or graduate students, or recent graduates. Based on submitted solutions to a defined challenge, winners are selected to travel to the annual Interaction conference and attend a master class with leaders from the Interaction Design community. The 2015 Student Design Challenge is being led by Noel Franus (United States)and Nick Remis (United States).

Photo: Noel Franus

Noel Franus (United States)


Noel Franus is a Digital Design Executive with 20 years of experience in interaction design, sensory design and invention to launch consumer platforms for brands like Domino’s, Best Buy, Windows, American Express and Kraft.

Noel was previously with CP+B, where he also founded P.INK, a CP+B fueled movement connecting breast cancer survivors with tattoo inspirations and artists who can help them move on after a mastectomy. Prior to CP+B, Noel was partner of the sonic branding and interaction agency Sonic ID US+UK. He helped lead the sonic branding practice at Elias Arts, and in 1999 was founding partner of the San Francisco user-experience consultancy Carbon IQ.

Noel’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Fast Company, PSFK and the Huffington Post.

Photo: Nick Remis

Nick Remis (United States)


Nick is an Experience Designer with Adaptive Path, based in San Francisco.

He works with Adaptive Path’s multidisciplinary design teams to generate, craft, and communicate visions for innovative services and experiences that connect with strategic goals of our partner organizations. In addition to consulting, Nick helps craft and deliver leading design education and conference offerings in the space of service design and UX.

Photo: Ana Domb

Ana Domb (Costa Rica)


Ana Domb Krauskopf is the director and founder of the Interaction Design School at Veritas University in Costa Rica, the first IxD graduate program in Central America. Previously she was the Director of Brand Innovation at Almabrands in Chile where she still teaches at the Universidad del Desarrollo. In the US, she worked in user experience research at THE MEME, a design consultancy based out of Cambridge with clients including Samsung and LG.She holds a Master's degree in Comparative Media Studies from MIT, where she was a researcher with the Convergence Culture Consortium under the direction of Henry Jenkins.

In past lives she’s worked as a journalist, filmmaker and music producer. She has consulted with Turner Broadcasting and Comcast, as well as working beside anthropologist Grant McCracken.