June 3-5, 2019 • San Jose, CA
Layers is a 3-day conference about design, technology, and business, learning, creativity, snacks, leadership, art, culture, responsibility, ethics
Tickets available now!

the schedule

Monday June 4

5:00-8:00p Registration Party ☀️🍻🥂🍦🍿🔖
Pick up your badge, have a drink, and meet your fellow attendees. If unable to attend, Tuesday morning badge pickup will be available.

Tuesday June 5

9:30-10:30a Academic Coffee & Breakfast
10:30-10:40a Welcome to Layers
10:45–11:05a Akil King
11:10–11:30a Pieter Omvlee
11:30–12:15p Snack Session 🍙
12:15–12:35p Kat Zhou
12:40–1:00p Raphael Arar & Erica Deahl
1:00–2:30p Lunch Break
2:30–2:50p Preet Singh
2:55–3:15p Travis Kirton
3:15–4:00p Snack Session 🍦
4:00–4:30p Kelli Anderson
4:30–6:00p Happy Hour

Wednesday June 6

9:30–10:45a Academic Coffee & Breakfast
10:45–11:05a Matthaeus Krenn
11:10–11:30a Dylan Field
11:30–12:15p Snack Session 🌯
12:15–12:35p Linzi Berry
12:40–1:00p Liana Dumitru
1:00–2:30p Lunch Break
2:30–2:50p Val Head
2:55–3:15p May-Li Khoe & Akil King
3:15–4:00p Snack Session 🥭
4:00–4:20p Tj Hughes
4:25–5:00p May-Li Khoe


Seriously, look at these people

Kelli Anderson


Kelli Anderson is a designer and paper engineer whose work operates in the space between conceptual art, graphic design, and tech. Her whimsical books have featured a working paper planetarium, a pop-up pinhole camera, and a paper record player. Whenever she can, she uses humble, lo-fi materials to expose the invisible magic of the world and make abstraction concepts “real” and tangible for people.

Raphael Arar

Principal Designer

Khan Academy

Raphael designs experiences to help people make sense of complex systems. He’s currently a Principal Designer at Khan Academy building tools that empower teachers to better meet the needs of each and every student. Previously, he tackled ethical platforms of AI at IBM Research, taught at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and designed over a hundred iOS apps with Apple.

Linzi Berry

Product Designer


A product designer living on the outskirts of Oakland. Linzi currently leads the Design Systems team at Lyft, who are responsible for building, maintaining and supporting ‘Lyft Product Language’ which spans across mobile and web. Previously she designed digital branding and systems agency side for 7+ years for brands like Tesla, SpaceX, Hennessy, Audemars Piguet, and Fitbit. Dedicated to giving back to the digital design community that taught her, Linzi shares her detailed thoughts on Tap to Dismiss.

Erica Deahl

Design Manager

Khan Academy

Erica designs teams, products, systems, and brands for social change. She’s currently a design manager at Khan Academy, where she’s building tools to help teachers make classroom learning personalized and joyful. Erica is an alumna of Hillary for America, 18F, Adaptive Path, the Civic Data Design Lab, and 2x4.

Liana Dumitru

Product Designer


Liana is a product designer on the Paper team at Dropbox. Previous to Dropbox, she co-founded Memo.ai, which was acquired by Coinbase. Liana is originally from Romania and she loves typography, books, and chocolate.

Dylan Field



Dylan Field is the CEO of Figma, the only cloud-based collaborative design tool. He was inspired to work on design technology after struggling with design software as an intern at Flipboard in 2012. Dylan champions open, accessible design and believes design technology must evolve for a cloud-based, collaborative world.

Val Head

Design Evangelist


Val Head, Design Evangelist at Adobe, is a web animation expert and author with a talent for getting designers and developers alike excited about the power of animation. Val speaks at conferences and workshops around the world to connect Adobe directly to the UX design community.

TJ Hughes


Terrifying Jellyfish

Tj Hughes, known online under "Terrifying Jellyfish" began his journey in game development by teaching himself various software at the age of 13, using the only materials available to him: the internet and an insatiable desire to create. Since then, he has found his niche online, with color, playfulness, and visual aesthetics being the center of all his creations. His latest project is a game called Nour, a video game that encourages you to play with your food, but does not discourage you with typical video game constructs such as high scores, time limits, and objectives.

May-Li Khoe

VP of Design

Khan Academy

May-Li is passionate about helping people cultivate their own creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking. When she's not busy building and empowering design teams, she’s juggling one of too many side projects, usually involving some combination of cultural practice, bright colors, faces-on-things, and glitter. In the past, May-Li invented new interactions across Apple’s hardware and software platforms, built educational games at Leapfrog, and researched at the MIT Media Lab. Currently at Khan Academy, May-Li is developing a critically conscious practice of inclusiveness and serving as VP of Design. She also DJs, dances, and daydreams about more joyful ways to subvert the status quo.

Akil King

Advisor & Consultant

Brooklyn Raised. HBCU Educated. Former Apple Developer Relations mage. Currently Start-up Advisory & Independent App Consultant.

Travis Kirton



Travis is the founder and director of Flow, the best tool for animating Sketch designs and delivering developer-friendly code. Having worked at pioneering institutions such as the Ars Electronica Futurelab and the Banff Centre for the Arts, Flow is the culmination of a career spent at the cutting-edge of interaction, design, and culture.

Matthaeus Krenn

Experimental UI Designer

Originally, Matthaeus was going to be a furniture designer in Austria, but ten years ago, he followed his now-wife to Silicon Valley, made a little tweak to his résumé, and stumbled into software design instead. He recently quit his experimental interface design job at Apple. Now he works on a few things on his own, teaches his daughter Mario Kart, and dreams about bread while eating celery for lunch.

Pieter Omvlee



Pieter Omvlee is the founder and creator of Sketch, the definitive platform for digital design. Over one million designers use Sketch to transform their ideas into incredible products, every day, and Sketch continues to grow, empowering designers to share and collaborate on their best work. Pieter lives in the Hague, NL and, when he’s not working on Sketch, he plays reasonably good piano and bakes excellent pizza.

Preet Singh



Preet is the founder of DesignX - one of the largest & fastest growing UX & Design communities in North America. Over his design career spanning 10+ years, Preet has had the privilege of working with clients spanning corporates, unicorns to early-stage startups – Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, Quicken Loans, Xero, TeamViewer, Teespring, Miami Ad School, Couchsurfing, and many more.

From building a well known non-profit movement while in engineering school to founding a t-shirt startup around social issues in India - community building is what keeps Preet going.

Kat Zhou

Product Designer

IBM Security

Kat Zhou is a product designer at IBM Security and the creator of the <Design Ethically> project. Aside from providing a comprehensive framework, <Design Ethically> also includes a toolkit of activities for product teams to leverage as they reimagine their design processes with ethics. When she's not building cybersecurity products or piloting <Design Ethically> at IBM, Kat is probably making podcast art, attending a rally somewhere, or burying her nose in a good book.


What is Layers?

A conference of thoughtful content, wonderful attendees, and generous snacks, Layers provides a positive backdrop for the challenges and accomplishments in design and technology. For designers and non-designers alike, we showcase design fundamentals for industry newcomers and advanced ideas for seasoned professionals.

At Layers, you'll:

  • Hear about the creative process from professionals of all backgrounds
  • Learn how different people approach project challenges
  • Get hands-on access to the people creating leading design tools
  • Build meaningful connections with industry peers

...and have the best time.

San Jose, June 3-5

Montgomery Theater

271 S Market St, San Jose, CA

Layers takes place at the historic Montgomery Theater, right around the corner from Apple’s WWDC.

We have a limited number of pre-paid hotel rooms set aside at the Hotel Clariana, just 5 blocks from Layers. Register your hotel room for June 3-6 at a flat rate of $1000 for 3 nights with check in at 3p and check out at 11a. Reservations can’t be shortened, but it may be possible to lengthen your stay.

Accessibility + Special Accomodations
The Montgomery Theater is equipped with ramps and limited ADA compliant seating. If you have specific needs or requirements, or questions about other accessibility offerings, drop us a line and we’ll do what we can to make sure your needs are met. There are limits to what we can do, but we work hard to make Layers comfortable and easy for anyone to attend!
We’ve reserved a block of 30 hotel rooms at the Hotel Clariana in downtown San Jose. It’s 5 blocks away from Layers which translates to about a 10-minute leisurely stroll (accounting for waiting at crosswalks and bumping into friends.)

There’s a combination of Single King (20), Double Queen (8), and ADA (2) rooms available. We’ll be taking requests on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot guarantee your choice of room.

Check-in is at 3pm on Monday, June 3rd (a few hours before Layers kicks off) and check-out is at 11am on Thursday, June 6th. We cannot shorten or cancel reservations. If you’d like to lengthen your stay let us know and we’ll see if it’s possible.

In effort to get you the best rates possible, we’ve booked this block outright and will be manually managing reservations on our end. We will make it a priority to assist you with everything hotel-related, but responses may not always be immediate.
Why do you talk so much about snacks? Are you feeding us meals?
We really love snacks. And when you’re in a different city, trying the food is half the fun! Since conferences leave little time for exploring the town, it’s nice to bring little pieces of the city to you. We source new and interesting local vendors every year to make it feel more like you’re visiting a place and not a conference center.

While full-sized meals aren’t served, attendees enjoy 3 hearty snack sessions per day and a 90-minute lunch break.
There are a limited (but growing) number of scholarships available to Layers, and anyone is welcome to apply. Scholarship applications must be submitted no later than April 14th, and scholarship recipients will be notified no later than April 19th. If more scholarships become available beyond that, we will provide updates to ensure everyone has a chance to apply.
I'm a [senior/junior] level designer, is Layers right for me?
Whether you’re curious about becoming a designer or have done it for decades, we have something for you. When selecting our content, we’re always thinking about presentations that speak to senior and junior-level designers alike. Concepts and lessons are layered: fundamental design ideas are reinforced throughout advanced content. We also try to showcase people in from totally different industries to show everyone something new.
I'm not a designer, what would I get out of attending Layers?
Here’s the thing: whether intentional or unintentional, everyone designs. Design can be expressed in pixels, gestures, words, materials—anything. Learning processes from the perspectives of different people and disciplines gives everyone more tools to do their jobs better, whatever those jobs may be. For people who work in and around design or tech, or people who are interested in learning more about it, we encourage you to be a part of and contribute to our community.
Can I speak at Layers?
Speaker outreach takes place months before registration opens and our roster is likely full at this time. We still love hearing your ideas, so feel free to reach out to us at info@layers.is. You might end up on our stage some day!
Can I sponsor Layers?
Short answer, yes! Medium answer, we would love to see how we can make it work. All sponsorships are custom-structured so we can find something that best fits the personality of our event and your brand. For the long answer, send us an email at info@layers.is and we’ll talk!

Frequently Asked, Answered Here

Code of Conduct

Layers is committed to providing a harassment-free event for everyone. Harassment isn't only result of intention; it can also take place when we don't stop to think about how our actions could make others uncomfortable. Let’s go over some common forms of harassment:

🚫 Verbal comments that reinforce social structures of domination related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, etc.
🚫 Bullying of any kind, in-person or online
🚫 Sexual images in public spaces
🚫 Deliberate intimidation, stalking, or following
🚫 Sustained disruption of talks or other events
🚫 Uninvited and/or inappropriate physical contact
🚫 Unwelcome sexual attention
🚫 Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behaviour

If any attendee or speaker engages in one or more of the inappropriate behaviors listed above, we reserve the right to take any action we deem necessary. This includes, and is not limited to, issuing a warning, complete removal from the conference without refund, and contacting the appropriate authorities.

In the unfortunate case anyone is made to feel uncomfortable at our event, notify us or one of our volunteers immediately. Whether it's a full-fledged complaint, or a "hey, that person could have handled this better" observation, we’re dedicated to providing a safe space for everyone to discuss their experience. If approaching us in person is difficult or uncomfortable, reach us at info@layers.is or submit an anonymous form.

👩🏻 Jessie & Elaine 🧑🏻

Thanks to Geek Feminism for the list of what qualifies as harassment. We welcome feedback on our code of conduct; if you believe an important qualifier of harassment is missing, please let us know at info@layers.is.


brought to you
by Opening Night

Opening Night was founded in 2015 by Jessie Char and Elaine Pow. Together they produce thoughtful events that draw from their combined backgrounds in design, technology, and retail.

Elaine and Jessie

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Designed By
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Coded By
Patrick B. Gibson

Kat Zhou

Product Designer

IBM Security

Kat Zhou is a product designer at IBM Security and the creator of the <Design Ethically> project. Aside from providing a comprehensive framework, <Design Ethically> also includes a toolkit of activities for product teams to leverage as they reimagine their design processes with ethics. When she's not building cybersecurity products or piloting <Design Ethically> at IBM, Kat is probably making podcast art, attending a rally somewhere, or burying her nose in a good book.