World class designers, business and fun. Report from By Design Conference 2016.

2 years ago by Michal Sleziak

There aren’t many design oriented conferences in the center of the Europe. Most of TOP designers are based in the US or England so its pretty hard for an european conference to attract them. Buuut, thanks to main organiser Jakub Ptáčin, By Design Conference 2016 hosted the best designers not only from the US and England, but from all around the world!

The second year of the conference was held in Bratislava on May 21 and the main theme was Business + Design. Organisers were doing their best to find the most inspirational speakers from different countries. Let me introduce you By Design conf from my point of view!

Tobias Van Schneider

After a few warm words from organisers, Tobias Van Schneider took a place of the first speaker. Tobias is digital designer and art director from Germany, currently living in New York. He’s Lead Product Designer of Spotify but he loves occupying himself with various side projects, applications, podcasts or portfolio systems for professionals. Read more about Tobias HERE.

It’s not about making something perfect. It’s about start to do something, because the best way to not complain is to do things!

Because of Tobias’s strong passion for creating things, the main theme of his keynote was “Side projects are stupid.” Why? Its simple: Sometimes shine trash objects makes awesome things. Everybody’s trying to make an awesome product from an awesome idea but there are a lot of products made from trash idea or just to make fun of something and they are incredibly successful. No idea is good enough if at least half of your friends told you that is stupid ? It’s not about making something perfect. It’s about start to do something, because the best way to not complain is to do things!

Peter Bilak

Peter was the only Slovak speaker on conference. He stands behind collaborative project called Indian Type Foundry, desktop app Fonstand and he’s well know for his editorial projects such as Dot Dot Dot or Works that work. Read more about Peter here.

Less is more. That`s a functional design. Design that works. Design of tomorrow!

Peter starts his presentation with funny video from India’s six lane crossroad. Imagine cars driving like crazy with a looot of bicycles. One would say: Impossible without at least 10 traffic restrictions, right? Actually the truth is, there is no restriction at all as well as no accidents. How? Less is more. That`s a functional design. Design that works. Design of tomorrow!

Mat Heinl

Mat is the CEO of one of the most recognised global creative agencies Moving Brands, with studios in London, Zurich, San Francisco and New York. Moving brads are working for the best-known companies, such as Google, Apple, Sony, Phaidon, DeviantArt, BBC, Norton & Sons, Swisscom or HP.

The fame, money and power stops good work to be done.

Except of Movings Brands workflow or great branding portfolio, I can say I learned a lot from Matt’s speech especially because of his experience with HP was very closer to mine when I was designing for Mercedes Benz. In 1941 Moving Brands was working on brand identity for HP. It was a hard job for Moving Brands, because HP was pushing their own company ego and power into design process. So they prioritised their own opinion for the logo design, before the expert’s advice. Ok, lest go back to the reality. Its 2016 and HP just refreshed their logo with amazing timeless design. In fact, this amazing timeless new logo was originally created in 1941 by Moving Brands as one of the rejected proposals. Booom! Why it takes HP 60 years to make a good decision? Because the fame, money and power — stops good work to be done.

Fact is that people have no idea about what is behind the design. They have their opinions but that’s all. It’s the same with Instagram logo. People are just dissecting terrible disgusting new Instagram logo. But what is behind the design? Probably there are 50 world class designers doing their job very bad in Instagram. And you, John from nowhere, you can do it better.

Ok. Sorry for my weak moment, but I had to release it finally ?

Malika Favre

Malika is a French artist based in London. Malika’s clients include The New Yorker, Vogue, GUCCI, the Fashion Council and Penguin Books, amongst many others. Check more from Malika’s work on her Instagram. 

I’m a big fan of material/flat illustrations so I was very impressed by her work. Malika is passionate about grids. Her style is expressing meet of a grid from the real life things and flat illustrations with shadows.

Peter Bilak + Michael Wolff — One to one discussion

One of the best talks on the conference was definitely Bilak + Wolff discussion.

Michael Wolff is the co-founder of the world’s most iconic design and advertising company Wolff Olins that specialises in corporate identity. His clients include world known brands such as The Ministry of Sound, 3i, Mothercare, Citibank, Citigroup, Apple Corps, Volkswagen, Audi, Bovis, P&O, Renault or Pilkington. Read more about Michael here.

Wolf has started the discussion with decent hate of Tatra Banka (main partner of the event) logo. There was a small tension in the air when Bilak points on a CEO of Tatra Bank siting in the audience ?

Wolf was talking about his experience with big clients too. He described it in a short story:

Big businessman from car corporation ask me to do a job. After I introduced my proposals he told me: “Do you know what sells a car? Price, quality, service. “ I told myself: We, designers, are in sh*t than. But I asked him: “What do you drive?” He said “Jaguar”. “So you are driving Jaguar, an expensive, unreliable car with bad services. Why do you drive it?” He said: “Because I love it.”. “ Me: So let me do my job and people will love your product.” Job was done and everyone was happy.

Michael’s main working principle while designing a brand identity is, that he’s always trying to work with human being not with brands. “Its really important to know how to walk in another person’s shoes” he said.

Oliviero Toscani

One of the most admired, yet also one of the most controversial advertisers of last decades. Oliviero is internationally renowned as the creative force behind some of the world’s most successful brands like United Colors of Benetton, Esprit, Chanel or Colors magazine. Read more about Oliviero here.

Toscani introduced himself as the most lucky and privileged person in the world. Why? Because when he was younger he could learn from the best designers and photographers. Oliviero was talking a little but very suggestively about his starts with an art, how everything was analogical compared to todays digital age. Toscani points on how it is important for artists to close technologies and start with imagination to keep your mind working instead of creating a lot of copies and rubbish for this world.

There is no vacation for artists! If you are an artist, you should live your life as an artist and there is no vacation for your creative mind then.

We knew Toscani is gonna be a little controversial, question was when he is going to start. After a few warm words he starts presentation of his work with some short talks about some different topics. First — his opinion to “vacation for designer” described very “softly”: “There is no vacation for artists! If you are an artist, you should live your life as an artist and there is no vacation for your creative mind then. If you are stupid, then go to the vacation!”. Next on on guillotine was the term Creative Directors. “Creative directors? What the ****?! What kind of art are they directing?!” Half of the audience almost fell down from their chairs.

Creative directors? What the fu*k?! What kind of art are they directing??!

There were a lot of sharp quotes from Toscani. If you are an artists you have to choose a form of presenting and communicating yourself. He decided for a picture. Toscani says: Picture have to be published, or it is no picture. He ended his keynote with deep think: “You can’t be sure and be creative at the same time. If you are sure about what you did, you were not creative enough.”

You can’t be sure and be creative at the same time. If you are sure about what you did, you were not creative enough.

Erik Kessels

The most influential creative in Netherlands, partner and co-founder of the famous communication agency KesselsKramerand the author of the well-known “I amsterdam” city identity campaign which is celebrated by Amsterdam citizens and people from all over the globe.

Erik is a person who can seed something very inspirational and mind-blowing inside you. I never thought Erik speech is going to be so strong because the name of his keynote was — Lets failed it! Like a lets failed what? Anything you want.

Erik’s studio KesselsKramer was facing very hard brief some years ago. Small, dirty, smelly hotel in the center of the Amsterdam ask them to build a marketing campaign. The problem was, that no-one knows about Amsterdam Budget Hotel before and there was nothing to catch, nothing in what was the hotel better than others or at least good enough to attract some clients. KesselsKramer studio decided for a different approach — Failed it.

Campaign was full of controversial spots like pictures bellow. What happened? The campaign has attracted thousands of people to visit the worst hotel in the world. Read more about the campaign here. 

Keynote part of the conference has finished with the very last selfie of all speakers with audience followed by after party with amazing catering.Ok, but what we have learned from the best designers in the world? Lets summarise it:

Best way to not complain is to do things! But how to do things? How to come up with ideas? Make something for you, something for the people around you or ever just something for fun but — DO SOMETHING! Keep in mind that No idea is good enough unless you find at least 10 haters of it.

No idea is good enough unless you find at least 10 haters of it.

So you have an idea but please don’t jump into Photoshop or Sketch instantly. First use you imagination, paper and pencil or at least try to be creative fist and keep in mind: You can’t be sure and be creative. This is not working.

You can’t be sure and be creative. This is not working.

Now you are finally doing something and growing and you think its time to give a cool title such as “Art Director”. But please, first ask yourself a question: “What kind of art are you directing?”

When you are growing as a designer you should keep it mind that your business growth is very important as well! Designers shouldn’t code. They should study business.

Designers shouldn’t code. They should study business.

Now you have a nice title before your name, you have some business basics in your little finger and you are working for your first big client. Just try to keep two things in your mind and everything should be fine: 1. Don’t let fame, money and power to stop good work to be done. 2. Communication is the most important thing in design process.

Don’t let the fame, money and power to stop good work to be done.

Thank you for your attention, hope you get something from my report and we will see each other at By Design conference next year!

You can find more info about conference here.

Original post can be found at Medium.com


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