Sunday, 17 March 2013

Design Indaba 2013

So here's my "brief" round up of the Design Indaba! Better late than never, right? I must say, I personally enjoyed last year's conference a lot more - every single speaker seemed super inspirational. Nevertheless, it was definitely a good experience and was great to get some insight into the process of some of the top names in the creative industry. First up are the speakers that stood out the most for me...

Christoph Niemann - illustrator, graphic designer and author
Awesome illustration and a great sense of humour. I love how his concepts are so simple, yet so well done and clever. Coolest projects: he illustrated the New York City Marathon while running it. Painting and everything! Too awesome, check it out here. He also created an incredibly cool interractive picture book app called Petting Zoo, watch the video for it below. Available here. Check out this cool article where he explains how it came about.

Words of inspiration from Christoph (in my own words, not direct quotes):
• Use the things that you obsess about for creative material, there's a good chance there are other people that obsess about it, too. 
• On working on a project and creating stuff: It's like trying to catch a chicken with your bare hands - If you half ass it you don't get half a chicken, you get nothing. 
• There's often entertainment in the things that you think are everyday and mundane. 
• You don't discover new territory unless you get your hands dirty. 

Lousie Fili is a graphic designer that has created thousands of book covers and is a global leader in food packaging design. She is strongly influenced by Italian design and her work features a lot of exquisite typography. I'm a huge fan of her work and can't wait to get my hands on a copy of her latest book, Elegantissima. Be sure to have a browse through her work here. Oh, and she just also happens to be married to Steven Heller, another icon of graphic design.

Sir John Hegarty was another wonderful and entertaining speaker, the last of the conference. He's worked in advertising for some very big brands, and these two ads that he showed us were particularly fantastic and highly impactful.

And here are some of the others that were particularly interesting...

Paula Scher - Graphic designer specialising in environmental graphics
I loved how Paula didn't just show off her best work, but also showed projects that failed or didn't end up going through. She spoke about making the best of a bad brief, because we all at some point, or many points, get briefs that either don't provide enough information or are maybe just something you aren't interested in or don't want to work on, but she showed how she forced herself to think in very different directions to overcome the obstacles of the bad brief and make something of it in which she could be interested. 
Words of inspiration:
• “Sometimes you just wake up and you don’t have a brain in your head. If you can’t do it, fake it!”
• “Creativity is a small defiant act of misbehaving”

Ben Terrett - Head of Design at the UK government’s Cabinet Office
This was very interesting from a graphic design point of view specifically, and especially if you've worked with web design or anything else that has to be very functional. He took us through the process of redesigning the UK government's website, which was originally broken up into separate sites for each department, which all had a very different visual appearance and no common identity. They created a new logo and consolidated all those sites into one,, and had the mammoth task of having to sift through all the information that was currently on there, making sure it was all relevant and easy to understand, and reworking the design to make it as easy as possible for anyone to get any information they need from this one site. 

Alex Chen - works for Google Creative Lab 
Created a number of digital projects that allow you to create music and sounds from visual elements and motion. Most interesting was his idea of "What does a scribble sound like?"

Oscar Diaz - Product Designer
I love how Oscar looks at everyday items and finds ways to make them better and more functional. His piece that is most recognisable is the beautiful ink calendar below. Check out his other cool projects here.

Leanie Van der Vyver was a definite stand out in the Pecha Kucha section with her Scary Beautiful shoes. I thought it was an excellent comment on the state of fashion and beauty.
"After working in fashion for seven years, she became very well aware of the manipulation of images in fashion that “suffer for a perfect result,” and how we unfortunately compare ourselves to these images. Her frustrations with this and her own feelings of inadequacy against these fake images brought about the Scary Beautiful project."

(Image and quote via Design Milk)

Masashi Kawamura spoke about the design process and how crucial the process is to the end result. He works mostly with video and created this pretty cool music video on a tiny budget using skype and fans of the band.

Steven Heller was really great to listen to because he spoke on a pretty casual level more about himself and his life than his work. I could really relate to his extensive collections - he has an entire room (maybe it was more than a room) absolutely filled with bits and pieces he's collected over the years. I don't have the space for that, but if I did I imagine I'd probably have a similarly massive collection. Check out his work here.

One of the speakers that I was looking forward to the most was Jessica Hische, a graphic designer who specialises in hand lettering, since I'm a big fan of her work. She spoke with Marian Bantjes in a conversational format which was something new for this conference. I enjoyed their presentation and it was great to kind of listen in on their conversation, as the format was. I felt it showed us their personality. However, I did wish they'd shared more of their work and thought process. Here's some of Jessica's work...
Design Indaba - Jessica Hische
Design Indaba - Jessica Hische
Design Indaba - Jessica Hische

For the full list of speakers and more information on the talks you can check out the Design Indaba website

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