The year I discovered Sagmeister


Cheltenham Design Festival 2013 (review)


The CDF 2013, now into its 2nd year, has from varying twitter posts, comments etc been given a fairly good thumbs up all round. Factor 3, perhaps the most objective review that I have found gives an honest appraisal of the events they attended…

In the main – the events I attended made you think: some inciteful some informative some slightly design indulgent! The most critical point I would make to the entire festival was that many of the talks that I attended were not fully filled (especially in the main auditorium) – last year it felt like there was more of a buzz – a little more excitement…

So the good things about going to an event like this – seeing a whole bunch of designers/creative thinkers/innovators for very little cash, back to back over 3 days…some I have heard of, some not…

The list:

Spencer Buck (of Taxi Studio) + Jessica Robinson (of Carlsberg): The art of creative one-upmanship
In short, great to find out about Taxi Studio – just checked their site, work looks amazing – one to remember – and Jessica Robinson, Global Design Director at Carlsberg (probably the best job in the world?). Premise of the talk was to discuss the client/designer relationship and the process of one-upmanship within this space.

What this talk did show was two creatives (both with a design background – JR was a designer, SB is a Creative Director) on either side of the client/designer divide that work fabulously well and create exciting pieces of design. (I was expecting to see a ‘non-designer’ and designer discussing their relationship and how they deal with the creative process – this possibly would have lived up to the billing of the title more-so…?).

Plus point: Great to hear how JR structures feedback within Carlsberg so it is focussed and less about ‘like’ when assessing creative work. Can’t quite remember the exact details but… in essence she creats a range of business objectives (dependent on job) that need to be met on the creative brief. These cover production, concept, etc…etc.., these in turn are split into two areas of ‘must have’ and ‘nice to have’. Simple way of focussing feedback in a structured way – be great to get hold of one of these..!

Craig Oldham (of Music): Pilfering the riches of human capacity
A new name to me (ex The Chase now at Music). Themes covered: innovation, creative thinking, problem solving, observing, knowledge, learning…all in all: keep inspired, keep thinking..! His delivery: punchy, honest, passionate, with a whole lot of presence on stage. Great talk, great speaker. One to watch.

Kim Wilkie: Led by the land
A lovely talk, knowledgable, informative – very simply KW, landscape designer with a MA in Modern History discussing a few projects that he has worked on. His website, packed with photos and reference, (he designed the V&A garden)…certainly will take a closer look at his work…

Nick Jankel: Only the pronoid thrive
A speaker from last years CDF – back to inspire, make an audience think, make an audience fearful…do you want to be creative or do you want to be right? Excellent mix of motivation, creative thinking underpinned with some science with some neuro-linguistics thrown in…smart thinker and smart talker.

Nat Hunter, Steven Johnson: What is sustainable design?
NH (ex Airside), now co-director of Design at the RSA* which has the strapline/proposition of ’21st century enlightenment’ sounds really very exciting…

She spoke about about the The Great Recovery project – (check the link and films…) – I won’t get into this too much as it is really quite complex – however central to this theme is the ‘circular network‘ – a network which maps all the contributors to creating products/innovation…from Design to Investors, Resource Management to Consumers and Users etc…etc..(again check the link!) – fascinating stuff…

Within their respective talks the word ‘design’ was used very loosely and replaced words like ‘innovation’ or ‘develop’ or other problem-solving/creative thinking type words. Speaking in sentences that include: ‘designing a service level agreement’ or ‘designing an economic business case’ were interspersed with ‘designing a product’. This was a little confusing (to me), when attempting to understand what role the ‘designer’ plays (practical sense) to influence change for ‘good’.

(*RSA short for: Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce: ‘an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges’)

Fred Deakin (ex Airside): Hooray! Why there’s never been a better time to be a designer
Awesome guy in an awesome jumper to paraphase Factor 3’s Cathy (forgive the over-familiarity)…Upbeat, fun, inspiring, positive…just sayin…

Ian Minards, Marek Reichman: 100 years of Aston Martin
Fantastic talk covering the history of Aston Martin. IM, Product Development Director and MR, Design Director led us through their thoughts and opinions of the brand, the cars, the technology and the styling.

Ben Casey: Face to face with…
Co-founder and director of The Chase – lovely chat in the Studio at the festival. Interviewed by Patrick Burgoyne. Interesting to hear his story, philosophy and see his work…

Moira Gemmill, Dejan Sudjic: Can the museum beat the museum shop?
MG, Director of Design and FuturePlan for V&A Museum and DS, Director of the Design Museum  (interviewed by Rowan Moore). An ambigious title (perhaps intentional?), led to a seemingly slightly confusing conversation over whether to talk about the shops in museums, or the museum as a ‘shop window’ for objects.

An added extra to the CDF were the Paperboys – 3rd year students who lived outside the event for the whole 4 days on their sofa – great enterprise, designed and printed 5000 newspapers…

Next years wish list: More people, better ways to mingle with the speakers/visitors to the festival, maybe a different venue with a bar, decent seating area and food?

Image credit: Better


Filed under: Design, Exhibition, Visit, , , ,

One Response

  1. beckythegeek says:

    Great summary and insight into something its sounds like I missed out on! Thanks for sharing :0)

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