Our annual creative symposium Here took place in London last week, with some 600 delegates packing into The Royal Geographical Society for a fun-filled, fast-paced day of insight and inspiration from our eclectic line-up of speakers
After a quick intro from It’s Nice That directors Will Hudson and Alex Bec, we were straight down to business with Laurie Pressman from our event partner Pantone. Laurie interwove a socio-cultural history of the last 50 years with its accompanying shifts in colour trends, touching on everything from John Travolta to the rise of Starbucks. She also looked to the future and how the merging of east and west and the rise of nano technology might shape of palette preferences.
She was followed by Wayne Hemingway, who gave us a quintessentially British and marvellously inspirational insight into his career and how he thinks designers have the right – and indeed the duty – to change the world. Hemingway Design’s philosophy is, he said, “about improving things that matter in life.” After Wayne, theatre designer Es Devlin gave us a superb look at her recent projects from Rhianna and Danish theatre to the 2012 Olympic Closing Ceremony. She spoke about the mindshifts required to move between each and explored how the idea of imagination manifests itself in the Google-dominated age.
After Es, Stuart Wood of rAndom International took us through his studio’s extraordinary projects and related how he balances the software engineer inside him with the artist; that crucial 1% that makes something that works something that feels right. Culminating in the triumphant Rain Room, he also looked at how the participation of the audience is an increasingly crucial part of their work.
Rounding off the first session, the brilliant Kate Moross gave us a bombastic pep-talk, based on her own experiences, about unleashing our creative potential. Tearing down the idea of barriers and celebrating the era of DIY (defined by our ability to hack) she talked about how simplicity, speed and the ability to bullshit have driven some fantastic projects.
The second session saw bombarded once again with wit and wisdom from five amazing speakers.
First up Mark Porter tried to unpick what he calls the “fetishization of creativity,” heralding the value of research, analytical thinking and making a case for your work. Concentrating in-depth on his redesign of The Guardian, Mark shared his priorities for good editorial design; in order – accessibility, engagement, personality and beauty/style. After Mark, Berlin-based 3D illustrator Sarah Illenberger took us through her creative journey, with a refreshing focus on some work that didn’t come off as well as her many successes.
Next up Oscar and Nicholas of the Canada directors’ collective walked us through their latest project; a music video for French band Phoenix. From initial ideas through emails, the treatment and the final (as yet unreleased) piece, the guys gave us a real insight into how the music video process really plays out.
Rounding off the session with a real tour de force of a talk, the inimitable Nelly Ben Hayoun presented a whirlwind tour of her remarkable relationship with science, including making dark matter in her kitchen and building mini volcanoes in her lounge. She ended by looking at her International Space Orchestra, an amazing project she basically bullied NASA into agreeing to, with spectacular results.
The last session of Here 2013 had a tough act to follow, but it delivered and then some. How to describe Adam Buxton’s appearance? You kind of had to be there, but suffice to say while others talked about creativity, Adam actually invited us in to his creative process, harnessing the power of Garage Band to create a brand new song and giving us a sneak peek into David Bowie’s world.
After Adam, Andy Rementer took to the stage and gave us a really insightful look at how he develops his tone of voice through his illustrations, and how personal projects like Techno Tuesday have honed his style which he can now reapply in various editorial and commercial contexts. That idea of recontextualistaion was picked up on by our next speaker Rafael Rozendaal, who explained why he was driven to create work that exists online, how that translates into real world and latterly advertising contexts and the diffculties of describing his work to gallerists and collectors.
The day was brought to a brilliant close by Erik Kessels of KesselsKramer. Declaring his hatred of advertising, Erik showed how great ideas can blur boundaries between strong and non-design and big and tiny budgets. Using his books of found photos as examples, Erik also proved the importance of seeking inspiration in unlikely places.
A huge thanks to all our speakers, to our event partner Pantone and our sponsors the London Graphic Centre, GFSmith, Fontsmith and Mill+, our print sponsor Park and our media partner We Transfer. Thanks as well to our contributors, to Jim Stoten, Photobot and Tattly.
About the Author
Rob joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in July 2011 before becoming Editor-in-Chief and working across all editorial projects including itsnicethat.com, Printed Pages, Here and Nicer Tuesdays. Rob left It’s Nice That in June 2015.