I’m going to resist describing the details of my trip, breakdowns of my favourite speakers and the usual anecdotes people mentioned after a design conference. Instead I’ll simply describe 2 chance meetings I had and a couple of personal takeaways from my experience at OFFF Barcelona 2017.
Getting a kick up the arse from your design hero
Our brief conversation in Barcelona was, perhaps unintentionally, a really big kick up the arse for me. I haven’t created much rewarding work in the last 12—18 months. Ideas in sketchbooks, but nothing else. I feel like I should have had something interesting to share with someone like Joshua Davis, a project, something. I had nothing. Sorry.
During and after OFFF our conversation stuck in my head. Like an uncomfortable echo. A really Loud. Shouty. Uncomfortable echo. This conversation was, at the same time, refreshing, galvanising and motivating. Whether or not Joshua intended this reaction in me or not is unclear. The point is, some of his chaotic energy rubbed off and I’ve gained some positivity from communicating with someone who is genuinely listening and genuinely interested.
After Ben’s quick fire talk alongside Wasted Rita and Guille Cascante, he kindly answered my questions on process and organisation: Is it possible to design the environment in which creative work happens? Can you change an organisation from within? His answers (‘yes you can’ and ‘maybe’) were both useful and informative. Most telling was what he didn’t say. For now, I’ll call this a much needed guiding light.
- ‘Simple’ done well is better than ‘complexity’ for the sake of it. Both Anthony Burrell and Calvin Sprague’s talks illustrated that clarity, craft, purpose and skill can manifest within simple work that is well thought out and well executed.
- How you got there is as important as the destination you arrive at. Good work doesnt come from a negative or disorganised environment. Good process increases the likelihood of good work.
- OFFF still feels like a kind of fantasy land that is available to some, but somehow its properties are perpetually absent in my reality. The difference between what some creatives display and what my daily design life looks like can at times be nothing less than stark. Closing that gap would be a powerful act.
- I have an app I’ve been collaborating on. Ive been dragging my heels for a number of months. I’m going to finish this.
- In the time after OFFF in Barcelona and since returning to London, I have figured out a simple way to reveal a project I’ve been working on for several months.
Both will see the light of day in 2017.