DEC 5th 2012: High Tech x High Fashion (SV’s New Collection!)

“Fashion requires imagination, creativity, and originality… and allows a person to express (or hide) their identity and individuality… In a world becoming more and more virtual, fashion provides the context… that directly interacts with people on a visual, textural and emotional level.” ~ Simon Travers-Spencer (Designer)

According to Forbes Magazine, the Silicon Valley has once again bucked the national economic trends.  Synonymous with innovation, forward thinking, and creative leadership in technology, this metro-by-the-Bay undoubtedly prevails as a pivotal trendsetter for the global culture.  

So could New York, London, Paris, and Milan have clued San Francisco in on a new formidable partnership? What would happen when the home of Levi Strauss & Co., and world-renowned fashion schools like the Academy of Art, CCA, and FIDM fuses Silicon Valley’s innovative mindset with the bleeding edge originality, glamour, and personality of the fashion industry?

Join us this Dec 5th, to experience and discover the hidden treasures behind the SF High Tech x High Fashion partnership, and the opportunities that may abound for you!

6:30 – Registration (Networking)
7:00 – Dinner Commences
7:15 – Fashion x Tech Intro
7:20 – Presenters
8:10 – Showdance Intermission (Jessie Chen & Roland van der Veen)
8:15 – Panel (moderated by Christos Chrestatos)
9:15 – Wrap-Up (Networking till close at 10:30)
Founder & CTOBespoke Innovations
Scott Summit seeks to connect complex human needs with design and technology solutions. To this end, he founded Bespoke Innovations in 2010, based on 20 years of experience and research in design and additive fabrication. Bespoke was founded on the simple idea that an integrated approach that connects design, medicine and new technology stands to offer more meaningful and individualized solutions to address a wide variety of human needs. As a designer, his clients have included Apple, Nike, Palm, Silicon Graphics, and other innovations-oriented companies large and small. His designs have earned international recognition including top honors from the IDSA, IDEA, The Chicago Athenaeum, IGood Design, and Core77. Summit holds over 20 design and utility patents and has held faculty positions at Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon, and currently holds a faculty position at ingularity University. He has spoken at TEDx Cambridge, the Vanguard Lecture Series, the Summit Series, Stanford’s Entrepreneurial  Thought Leaders series and keynoted at Autodesk University. Bespoke was acquired by 3D Systems in May of 2012, and now drives its medical solutions research.
Co-Founder, myFit Inc.
John Rocha is the Co-Founder of myFit, Inc., a Sunnyvale based fashion tech firm aiming to disrupt the online apparel industry. With myFit, users are able to virtually try on clothing to determine proper fit and style before purchasing. John’s prior experience includes teaching entrepreneurship classes with the University of Notre Dame, and microfinance strategy consulting in Guatemala. John holds a BA from Notre Dame where he received a scholarship for Outstanding Entrepreneurial Spirit from the Mendoza College of Business, and also fought on the ND Boxing Team.



Director / Creative DirectorThoughtpusher
Christos Chrestatos is an experienced filmmaker and director, and also the creative director for Thoughtpusher, a New York City based creative shop specializing in fashion films, commercials, music videos, and “hybrid advertising”.  His work has been featured in The New Museum o f Contemporary Art in Manhattan, XLR8R (leading voice in independent electronic music for the US and many top international markets), RES Magazine (bi-monthly publication chronicling the best in cutting edge film, music, art design and culture), as well as TV channels in countries like Japan, Canada, and Germany. As co-contributor to Open-Source Fashion Magazine, he advises the fashion community on content creation, non-traditional advertising, and branding strategies through filmmaking in order to support identity and expression between designers and their public.

Pre-registration Tickets ($20) – On SALE NOW!

SEPT 5th 2012: Images Speak – The Leverage of Media

(Making a Connection with Those Who Count Through Emotional Relevance)

Date: Sept 5, 2012, 7PM 

Location: The Angelica’s, 863 Main St., Redwood City, CA 94063

Tickets: $15 (Early Bird – Ends 8/28), $20 (Pre-Registration), $25 (At the Door)

– Get an inside glimpse at the speakers’ broad range of personal experiences that has shaped their use of imagery to evoke emotion through different mediums.   

– Be inspired by each speaker’s unique thought and creative processes.

– Learn how to use the power of personal emotion to accomplish YOUR goals, to make your messages more significant and poignant, and to convey the hidden meaning that crosses cultural and language barriers.

At the conclusion of the speakers’ presentations, our founder and chairman, Howard Lieberman, will moderate a panel discussion – where YOU can pick the brains of Emilio, Christos, and Max for what promises to be some of the most inspiring and thought provoking conversations centered around this theme. Prepare to be inspired as we share great ideas, great food, and great networking with a group of like-minded innovators like yourself!

6:30 – Registration (Networking)
7:00 – Dinner and Entertainment (Scot Sier)
8:00 – Main Program
9:00 – Speakers Panel Q&A
9:30 – Wrap-Up (Networking till close at 10:30)
Emilio Bañuelos
Photography Instructor (Academy of Art University)

Emilio Bañuelos has worked as an editorial photographer and consultant for newspapers in Mexico, Panama and the US. His documentary work earned him fellowships from the Poynter Institute, the Marty Forscher Fellowship for Humanistic Photography and an award from EnFoco Inc. In the San Francisco bay area, Emilio teaches documentary photography for the Academy of Art University, and has conducted workshops for the University of California Santa Cruz-Extension and the University of Coahuila and Black Boots Ink.

Christos Chrestatos
Director / Creative Director (Thoughtpusher)
Christos Chrestatos is an experienced filmmaker and director, and also the creative director for Thoughtpusher, a New York City based creative shop specializing in commercials, music videos, fashion films, and “hybrid advertising”.  His work has been featured in the New Museum of Contemporary Art in Manhattan, XLR8R (leading voice in independent electronic music for the US and many top international markets), RES Magazine (bi-monthly publication chronicling the best in cutting edge film, music, art, design and culture), as well as TV channels in countries like Japan, Canada, and Germany.  Christos draws his inspiration from a curiosity towards the human condition, his love for mythology, and an appetite to create meaning;  He believes strongly in the universal language of imagery (and its ability to resonate with individuals), as well as the power of the narrative in bridging the gaps of global culture.

Max Sims
Principal (Technolution)
Max Sims started his career as a car designer at Opel and Renault then transitioning to the Visual FX industry. In 1989 he started working for Alias Research . Max has consulted to many of the leading manufacturers, design consultancies and VFX/animation houses such as Alessi, ILM, Pixar, Motorola, Sun, and Apple IDG. He is the lead author of Inside Maya 5 and has been teaching Maya and Alias Studio at the Academy of Art since 1994 and Cogswell Polytechnical College since 2000. He is an advisory board member to Multiverse networks, Caustic Graphics and the Silicon Valley Innovation Institute.


8/1/12 Announcement:
We are ecstatic about our lineup of speakers this September 5th.  We will be opening our season with one of the hottest topics in the Valley, especially for THIS moment in history – How imagery can help bring your ideas to life, and ultimately “seal the deal” as your message rides the silver bullet of emotional relevancy for your audience.

Joining us will be Emilio Banuelos, experienced journalistic photographer and professor in the poignant art of documentary photography; Max Sims,  3D Modeler and Designer extraordinaire (from toys to Ferraris!); and special guest from New York City – Christos Chrestatos, Director/Creative Director of Thoughtpusher, rising star in cutting-edge advertising and messaging through film and media.

Look out for more info on our incredible lineup of speakers coming up, and reserve your tickets today!

JULY 18th 2012: Innovators’ Showcase!

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to be impressed by a full bandwagon or your fellow Silicon Valley innovators!  Come enjoy the show and provide your feedback on how SVII can better serve YOU!

Showcase Includes: Alternative Jazz,  Alternative Country Rock, Secrets of Dark Matter, Language of Art and Science, Live Violin Looping, Live Portait Painting, Insights from Literature.. and more!

$15 Cover Only / $35 Full Dinner


6:30 – Doors Open (Networking)
7:15 – Dinner/Show Begins!
9:40 – Wrap-Up (Networking till close at 10:30)

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JUNE 5th 2012 (Recap): How is technology changing music?

The Silicon Valley Innovation Institute is all about innovation, whatever the form. Last week, we had a fabulous event focusing on innovation in music–specifically, as the title of the event asked, “How is technology changing music?”

The evening began with casual mingling and chatting. During this time, even though they were not an official part of the program, the entrepreneurs from Unplugged Instruments got the night off to a good start by showing off their super cool self-amplifying guitar (available through kickstarter).

Then we had dinner from the fine fare of Angelica’s Bistro (also the location of this event) while music was played by Scot Sier and Andy Markham, followed by a stunning Bolero dance by Roland Van Der Veen and Jessie Chen.

Jessie Chen and Roland Van Der Veen dancing the bolero
Jessie Chen and Roland Van Der Veen dancing the bolero

All this happened before the main program, which was an extended exploration of how technology is changing music (for better or for worse). Mostly, it was agreed that technology is helping music by, as SVII founder Howard Lieberman put it, “lowering the barriers to entry and allowing artists to reach more people with their music.” However, there were also some hints that it may not all be good. For example, Andy Markham, a guitarist from The Cat Mary, pointed out that “There is no law of the universe that dictates that music needs to be a way of making money.” Just as brick-laying is a profession that is now all-but-extinct, in five hundred years, technology may have made music so easy to produce that being a professional musician will be an impossibility. (He didn’t necessarily say that such a scenario has to be a bad thing, but whether it is or not would probably depend on your perspective.)


One thing that is for sure is that technology has changed music immensely. Even in the change, however, one can see the cyclical nature of music (rhythm, anyone?). For example, because technology such as iTunes, Youtube, Spotify, and BitTorrent (to name a few) have made music anywhere from cheap to free online, musicians have become much more dependent on revenue from live performances, which is somewhat of an echo of past times.

Additional juxtapositions of the new and old in music and technology were also highlighted by the other panelists. Budda Amplification founder Scot Sier talked about how he got the idea for his current company: At one time, he had a tube amplifier, but then he sold it. After that he realized how much he missed it, because it sounds much better at a lower volume than other amplifiers, which is important for preserving your hearing if you are a musician. This inspired him to start a company which would actually make tube amplifiers, which before then had been a dying breed.

Scott Sier contributes to the discussion as moderator Darius Dunlap looks on
Scott Sier contributes to the discussion as moderator Darius Dunlap looks on

Also present were the father-son-instrument-making-duo, Rick and Eli Turner, of Renaissance Guitars, who have mastered the art of creating a wide array of relatively mainstream instruments and equipment in surprising new ways. Eli Turner uses Photoshop and solid works to model instruments on a computer, allowing him to design and work on instruments much faster. But even though he uses new technology to make new instruments, the past is still quite influential. Whenever he is designing a new take on an existing instrument, he looks at the classic models of that instrument, which he likes to pay tribute to in his new designs, as in his partially cut-out guitar based on the Fender Strat (called the CopperCaster).

Eli Turner showing off his cut-out Strat and other instrument that I can't remember the name of
Eli Turner showing off his cut-out Strat and the electric tonkori that he is working on as well as a traditional acoustic tonkori

One of the highlights of the night was when Robert Hamilton of Smule showed a visualized version of people from all over the world singing “Lean on Me” together through the Smule Glee app (online karaoke and music collaboration). After the tsunami in Japan, someone in Japan posted the starter track as a way to encourage fellow Japanese people. Later, people from all over the world started hearing it and adding their own voices.

Another product that Smule makes is electronic instruments for computers–i.e, ways of playing music through your iPhone, iPad, etc. Hamilton mentioned that one of their most popular settings on the My Ocarina app for the iPhone is the Zeldarian setting, which mimics the way an ocarina in the Zelda computer game sounds, which is (as far as we know) not reproducible by an acoustic instrument. This echos something which Eli said about the flow of technology: “Technology tries to mimic the physical world, which forces us to learn more about the physical world by studying it more deeply. Then we take the physical and try to mimic technology, which forces us to learn more about technology.”

Robert Hamilton of Smule talking technology and music as Eli Turner looks on
Robert Hamilton of Smule talking technology and music as Eli Turner looks on


SVII is the Silicon Valley Innovation Institute. We aspire to cultivate innovation by bringing creative people of all types together in a thought-provoking environment. Our next event is July 18th, and is an opportunity for anyone to showcase their creativity and audacity in performance and art.

Bass guitar and Eli Turner's CopperCaster
Bass guitar and Eli Turner’s CopperCaster

12/7/11: Holiday Party with CAST Labs

SVII and CAST Labs joined forces for an end of the year celebration. The program featured live jazz, opera arias, a tango dance performance, and a dinner-debate. The theme of the evening – art, creativity and innovation, a collaborative exploration.

Here is an excellent blog post by Theral Timpson about the evening.
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6/28/2011: Solar Design / Green Building Potluck BBQ

Passive solar design is quite possibly one of the most efficient building techniques ever. Yet we rarely see the conscious implementation of this timeless way of building structures which are in-tune with the energy balance of their environment. Thanks to our dear friend Thomas Wagner, we got a firs hand look at innovative solar design in action.
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