Our Head of Design, together with several other members of our creative team attended Design Manchester 2017 last week. It was full of insightful talks from some key figures in the world of design.
It was a packed day and highly insightful event. Here is my round-up of some of the talks, exhibitions and workshops that we were fortunate enough to attend.
Naresh Ramchandani – Pentagram
A great way to open the conference with a cryptic talk which blurred the lines between Naresh making his LP and the process of creating design. We learned that at the end of the day your first critic is yourself and sometimes the hardest one to please – but by sharing our ideas with others they can be developed and refined into something worth listening to.
Naresh took us through his experience of creating his first LP with some great title slides and choice of music but taught us that we shouldn’t be afraid to learn new skills and that life inside and outside of work is a constant learning curve as we grow up.
Jane Murison – BBC
Jane’s honest talk centered around UX design was a breath of fresh air – it highlighted how bombarded with information we are as consumers and yetwe still can’t make an informed decision with ease. It also pointed out that bad UX design has created a generation of people who are too afraid to make decisions and who are all too happy to follow instead of thinking for themselves.
She assured us that something is being done and made comment on the hot topic of ‘fake news’ that is so easily spread and believed by the majority on social media and the web.
“Most people are looking into the gutter, but we are looking up at the stars instead.”
Louis Mikolay – North
Louis’ talk was a subject our studio can relate all too well to – the brand journey. The process of taking a client’s brief, understanding their requirements, producing extensive market research and creating a design that fits both the brief and generates excitement and buzz around the project.
It was great to see the full design journey including the first sketches which came from a collective group exercise, through to the chosen ideas. Each idea was put through the rigorous stages of development and criticism whilst always being pulled back to ensure the design solutions answered to the brief. This results in killer creative that communicates the client’s needs across all platforms on a national scale as the project expands.
Tash Willcocks – Hyper Island
Tash was an explosion of energy and confidence – especially for someone who said they used to be very quiet! She called us into an intervention addressing a global addiction – personal tech (i.e the beloved mobile phone, tablet, smart watch and so on) and how mobile technology has taken over our lives. Beautifully illustrated slides, curated and designed by Tash herself, explained how attached we really are to our mobile phones. We were taken on a journey back to a much simpler time when drawing on walls was our favourite pastime and shown how technology has been designed to mimic a simple swipe and tap gesture to expose our ‘inner caveman’.
Interacting with strangers – has this been lost due to the world of mobile technology or is it as simple as controlling the time we spend on our devices? Tash showed statistics of people who have started to limit mobile usage and opened their eyes to who and what is around them to help inspire their work and experiences.
Lawrence Kitson – Co-op Digital
Lawrence focused on service design and his transfer over from UX design – utilising digital user experience; touchpoints, defining the barriers and needs of a user (that all web platforms consider) and applying them to everyday life! It makes perfect sense! We experience multiple services day in and day out, each competing with one another to achieve the smoothest customer journey. These journeys have been designed to create memorable and pleasant experiences, a service you’d want to frequently revisit.
Kitson enlightened the crowd to the humble beginning of Co-op, The Rochdale Pioneers and the rise of the industrial revolution. This was an era that created an opportunity for growth and recognised northern workers’ need for a service that provided food at a fair price and in honest weights/measures. The heritage of the Co-op has always been to provide a service for the people and Lawrence explored how community-focused the brand still is today. For instance, the company’s funeral service has been re-designed to lessen the need for multiple forms and promotes a more pleasant face-to-face experience through emotional times.
Alex McDowell – Experimental Design
Talk about a sore brain after this discussion! Alex is a great mind and a leader in future technology who blew me away with his talk on VR and storytelling. From giant whales coming out of screens and swimming above viewers, to creating the world from the film Minority Report, and more recently, the creation of a whole virtual city in a cell!
I found myself feeling both excited and curious at what was capable and where technology will soon be taking us. Are films like ‘Surrogates’ and ‘iRobot’ closer to reality than we think they are?
Emily Forgot – London-based Graphic Artist
The perfect talk to follow Alex’s head hack – a plain-speaking discussion that told us all to take a month out from work to re-find ourselves and go on holiday to inspire our work!
On a serious note, I found Emily’s talk inspiring and it left me thinking that I need to step back and evaluate what is happening more often. Work life is fast-paced and we can quickly forget our focus and what drives us – our passion to create and design! It is important to take time away to recharge, observe and try out new technologies to better our work and skills.
Ellen van Loon – OMA
A strong, confident woman who believes in herself and her skills in architecture design, Ellen’s presentation covered a few of her latest projects. She talked through each brief and the processes she executes to develop and create what her client’s request and more!
Ellen gave off such a positive energy during her talk – it spread across the room in a wave of excitement and empowered confidence. She gave a brief mention about her new project in Manchester but was the perfect professional and didn’t give anything away.
What I loved about the conference was the fact that even though each speaker came from a different design discipline, we all make the same journey and follow similar processes to ensure briefs are met whilst ensuring as a designer we add our own stamp to each project.
My key takeaways from DM17