Last Friday, we were back at the Barbican for our In Progress conference, an all-day affair featuring over a dozen speakers from across the creative spectrum looking back at key themes and projects from this year and forecasting how they might shape 2013 and beyond.
Ruth Mackenzie, the woman who headed up the Cultural Olympiad set the agenda for the day with the opening keynote talk. Highlighting the extraordinary series of events that took place during the London 2012 Festival, she reaffirmed the enormous wealth of talent and creativity within our arts scene and explained how keeping cultural events accessible encourages innovation and risk-taking.
Next up mutlidisciplinary designer Keiichi Matsuda presented a very striking – and dystopian / utopian depending on your interpretation – vision for the future and how data might play an increasing role in our environments and the way we live before Edward Barber of BarberOsgerby beguiled us with wonderful stories and behind-the-scenes glimpses of designing and prototyping the Olympic Torch (a process which involved Ikea, a watering can and a huge briefing document).
Channel 4’s Dan Brooke spoke enthusiastically about Meet the Superhumans, arguably the stand-out campaign of 2012, highlighting the research and process behind the network’s boundary-pushing Paralympics coverage before the morning session concluded with two lightning talks.
The Guardian’s Oliver Wainwright offered a frank critique of the Olympic legacy and some healthy provocation about planning and development (an interesting antidote to the positive Olympic feeling in other talks) and Nicolas Roope showed through his own successes such as Hulger and Plumen, how creative entrepreneurialism can be achieved through free, accessible platforms.
Following lunch, Ben Terrett and Sarah Richards talked us through the transformation of gov.uk, showing how content can drive successful design and the challenges the Government Digital Service faced in responding to multiple users needs, creating a website which by their own admission people didn’t want to spend any longer on than strictly necessary.
Tech journalist and futurologist Adrian Mars took us on a quick tour of the history of 3D printing, and provided a passionate talk on why 2012 was such a significant year for developments in this field including the proliferation of affordable printers and resultant legal issues. Caroline Till co-founder of creative trend consultancy FranklinTill then examined the “unstoppable rise of the experience junkie” tracing how multi-sensory design led projects have entered the mainstream and offering her predictions for how this might develop.
Hellicar & Lewis how their commercial work supports the projects that they get really passionate about and the importance they place in sharing and being open to unexpected outcomes – much of the excitement comes in seeing how people interact with their work.
Their passion rubbed off on Ben Southworth, who echoed their message – “keep being awesome”, these are exciting times so don’t stop questioning what is possible. For the final session of the day, Artangel’s Michael Morris and award-winning architect David Kohn were in conversation with our very own Alex Bec, for a cerebral discussion on A Room for London, among other projects, looking at overarching themes of collaboration, creativity and cultural congestion.