• Design Conferences = Overblown and Conceptually Thin

    Communication, Communication Design


    Ever since Jody Boehnert forwarded me a link to Rick Poynor's recent critique of Design Conferences (for <a href="http://www.creativereview.co.uk/crblog/">Creative Review</a>), I have not stopped thinking about the discussion. This is a very topical critique and a highly recommended read for D21 readers.

    Admittedly, the celebrity culture that has developed in the design industry is not something I have followed since being a student, however I am quite shocked at some monochrome responses that have appeared after the article. It would seem apparent there is a certain dichotomy of designers around today, as one respondent comments:

    When I read these comments it becomes clear to me the great spectrum that exists in the design world. Splashing around in the shallow end are those that play at making things pretty. And far on the other side there are those that are actually engaging in this great human process called communication.

    As Poynor explains, many conferences have become a form of exhibition, a showcase of "famous" design work, however we must consider that students will forever love the opportunity to meet/see/admire their favourite designers (and there is nothing wrong with admiring your idols).

    As we develop into professionals however, there is certainly more to learn and think about than “new tricks and computer skills”. If everyone just learns how to recreate the same thing, designers will evolve into nothing but another form of technology.

    We should indeed be "asking for" a new kind of design event, that gets its audience off their seats and using their talents to challenge current day social problems. I therefore agree with Poynor's conclusion that smaller interactive debates, discussions and workshops (that consider social changes) will assist the Communication industry to evolve positively into the future, and perhaps eradicate the risk of stagnating all its designers into aesthetically-orientated tech-savvy talent.

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    In a recent article aptly named The Price of D&AD New Blood, graduate Graphic Designer Dave Cuvelot comments on his experience of D&AD New Blood and its true value to today's graduate designers:

    "If our top-level conferences are ‘just’ lining up celebrity designers to show off their own work, then is that what graduate showcases are setting us up for – to become the celebrity? With such significant influence and positioning in the design industry, I’d like to think design ‘celebrities’ could not better use their time in the public eye and communicate the power of design to other areas of society, maybe they could share what they have learnt about design, share issues which matter to us all and fight to change the discourse away from stardom, and back to a discourse focused on where design is going and more importantly how it can be used to better society."

    Read Dave's article here: The Price of D&AD New Blood

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