By Anna Jehan, Design Director, Matter Of Form
At Matter Of Form we know it’s important for us to step outside of the studio once in a while, to get inspired and see what is going on in the world. So this summer the design team hopped on a plane and headed off to the beautiful city of Barcelona for the internationally renowned OFFF Design Festival. Spread over 3 days, and in its 15th year, the festival is for the creative community to celebrate and discover the industry’s top talent and their recent work in design, direction, digital and motion.
In amongst the flow of tapas and Rioja, there were some really wonderful speakers and beautifully crafted work that deserves to be shared.
Highlights from the OFFF Barcelona Design Festival:
1. Passion projects
As a designer I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to carve a career out of something I love and this makes working in this industry a real joy. It does however mean that rarely do I take a break from billable work to re-kindle the origins of my love of design. My visit to the Barcelona OFFF Design Festival did just that.
Throughout my time at University I yearned to work on a live project with physical deadlines and a brief that involved real problem solving; however, I didn’t fully appreciate the fantastic opportunity personal projects offered. Agencies like Sid Lee and Hey Studio are discovering that making time and in some cases making funding available for their employees to pursue their personal projects, has more benefits than just boosting morale.
“What a group does with its billable time determines its income for a year. What it does with its non- billable time determines its future.”
The Sid Lee collective
Sid Lee, the Canadian Creative agency, spoke of using the time to expand knowledge on new technologies, work with new teams, have some fun and create something wonderful all at the same time.
Their key for success is to make the most out of this time by giving yourself deadlines, a real brief, combining different skill sets and pouring your heart and soul into it. This way focus and momentum is maintained. However above all, to create something wonderful, innovative or noteworthy, they urge us all to simply let the silliness out! My favourite passion projects falls in to this category – the Knitter Stream. Who doesn’t need their Twitter feed knitted into a jumper?
Next up was Hey Studio. They found fame through the simplest of gestures, creating an illustrated character every day. These characters enabled their Instagram following to grow to 120,000 followers, find new clients that loved their style and enabled them to create their first exhibition, not to mention their own line of toys!
So there you have it – allow your designers and yourselves time away from client work to follow a passion. You never know where it might lead.
2. Virtual reality
Due to its current status, it’s not surprising that virtual reality was another running theme in this year’s seminars but the best and most innovative uses were showcased by Unit 9 a multi disciplinary agency with a new-found VR department.
For many, virtual reality has been treated with scepticism for its apparent limited use of only improving gaming experiences. However Unit 9 have set out to disprove this theory by putting it to the test on some of their campaigns. A fantastic example of this is their collaboration with Stella Artois on the #buyaladyadrink campaign highlighting the effects of introducing local clean water supplies to families in Honduras. In this interactive video, VR has been used to enhance the story-telling narrative allowing the user within a ‘sliding doors’ approach, to experience the differences for these families. Not only is the concept noteworthy, but the art direction and footage taken of Honduras is absolutely stunning.
Unit 9’s learnings for working with VR:
Always allow the user to see their own body to give a sense of scale and perspective.
Pin any interface to an item within the viewport not on the peripheral vision of the user to avoid cluttered interfaces and unnecessary distractions.
Be aware of the 6 (yes that’s 6!) types of motion sickness.
Consider the idea that in the future people will have associations with virtual memories not just real world memories, so make sure your experiences are worth remembering!
3. Fake it ’til you make it
Many of us have gained our knowledge through experience but when attempting to move into a new field, finding the opportunities and having the courage to dive straight in can be a challenge. Yet this is what multiple agencies were encouraging and something close to the heart of Matter Of Form.
Morphika, a small boutique 3D and animation studio, started life having not worked within this domain before but when approached by a client with this requirement they jumped at the chance. This opportunity allowed them to get to grips with high spec camera equipment, 3D software and new animation tools. Throughout the talk they were keen to stress ‘of course we didn’t know what we were doing’ but many late nights and a few broken cameras later, this led them to use the project as a base for all their future work.
On day two, Mr Bingo was keen to encourage the same theme. Through chatting about his project Hate Mail (tongue in cheek illustrations on vintage postcards) and the Kickstarter campaign he set up to produce a collated book of them, it was clear that a bit of daring, a few friends and some cheeky Ebay purchases really can create yourself a rap video to be proud of. Watch the rap in all it’s glory here.
4. Going back to basics
In a world of ever-expanding horizons and emerging technologies, we can often get caught up in the pomp and circumstance of the latest shiny new hype. But Hey Studio reminded us that sometimes the simplest of ideas, executed in a bold and confident manner can be the most rewarding and successful. Their beautiful execution of the Arrels branding (a modern, Spanish footwear brand) was based on a primary palette of 5 colours, and the ethos that every piece should be different, reflecting the roots of their urban surroundings. In a nod to ripping down the layers of urban landscapes to reveal the earth beneath, they created brand assets that were able to gain their personality through the customer and staff ripping pieces of the collateral into natural and bold shapes.
The designs become so striking and synonymous with Arrels that Hey Studio were then invited to produce their own footwear designs based on this concept, resulting in a beautifully crafted and fully realised 360 concept.
5. Ones to watch
Stoooorm.com (open source but for design, music… everything!)
Adobe Capture App (Colour profiling from the real world, vectorising hand illustrations and transferring to Adobe Cloud).
Typatone (translating your keyboard into a music composer)
6. And lastly…freebies we obtained
1 Inflatable Banana
3 Blue Aardman characters
1 Abusive illustration from Mr Bingo
1 Personalised tote bag
3 Books of illustrations
1 Morphika energy drink
Until next time….!