“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” (Albert Einstein)
Einstein unsurprisingly has a point: one person’s idea often sparks another; one person’s mistake can be another’s creative solution – so the worst thing a creative team can do is sit and fester in their lovely safe studio. Not ones to shy away from an office trip, we put our wet weather gear on and headed down to this year’s ‘Reasons to’ festival in the (not so) sunny Brighton.
Spread over 3 days, and in its 11th 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. Not only does the schedule allow for ‘traditionally’ beautiful and inspiring work but also sets out to find speakers who challenge our perceptions of digital and the future it may hold for us.
With the spirit of Einstein in mind, read on for our favourite speakers, their particularly curious subjects and beautiful work.
Having originally learnt my craft as a print designer with a complete fascination with origami it was an absolute must that we went to listen to hear Hattie Newman speak. She describes herself as a ‘city builder’ a crafts woman by trade who has a fascination with building scale models of beautiful cities out of paper. Her attention to detail is second to none, she shuns using any form of digital cutting for the traditional scalpel and professes her work is a lot of trial and error. For me the vibrant colours and the simplicity of materials come together to create something really beautiful and has inspired us to go back to basics for this years Matter of Form Christmas gifts so watch this space!
To watch Hattie’s process and the stunning animations she has made based on her sculptures visit here.
The prospect of Neil Harbisson’s talk was one of intrigue and wide discussion amongst the design team on our way to the conference. For those of you that aren’t aware Neil Harbisson is part of a movement of ‘Cyborgs’ that have begun the controversial path of experimenting with technology as a permanent enhancement to their bodies. In the case of Neil it was in response to being colour blind; from birth the world to Neil has been entirely colourless and he wondered if technology would have a way of translating this information to another of his senses. From this initial idea and after months of trying to find a surgeon happy to implement the procedure, Neil had an ‘antennae’ surgically implanted into his skull. This antennae now allows him to feel vibrations when he sees colour which he then translates into ‘sound’ – effectively he is now able to hear colour. This is actually quite a beautiful notion – music can warm your heart and change your mood just as colours can and the lovely idea of him decorating his house by his favourite music is certainly a different way to approach interior design. It does have it’s disadvantages however, he could be hacked and sent relentless colours, he has also had to learn to manage this new sense so it doesn’t overwhelm him – I imagine a trip to Disney world would be pretty intense!
Coming out of the talk I’m not sure how I felt about the idea of ‘Cyborgs’ – at points I felt uncomfortable and wondered if these improvements were worth the risk of surgery when they weren’t life or death impairments. However Neil seemed like a very genuine guy with a real curiosity of the world and like all advancements in technology and science – where would we be if there weren’t people out there willing to experiment and take a risk – after all many of the world’s great scientists made life saving discoveries while experimenting on themselves so who am I to judge.
From Cyborgs to Typographers the conference was certainly varied and up next was Erik Spiekerman (typographer, brand designer and multiple agency owner). Erik is one of those designers you discover during your studies; up there with the greats like Milton Glazer and Paula Scher and was a real hero of mine so it was fantastic to hear him speak. Admittedly it was hard to relate when he began first sharing his work – he is now 70 years old and the styles and layouts seem a world away from todays design approach, however what was fascinating was his approach to experimenting in design and his passion to push back on clients when he was convinced what they wanted wasn’t right. His joy for the traditional methods of design and typography was also heartening – his current studio has beautiful original printing presses where he hand sets type and produces stunning pieces of typographic work with finishes you would never quite replicate on a screen. Looking into the studio more it turns out they hold workshops to learn this craft and is something that I urge all designers to try – kerning, leading and readability suddenly has a whole new meaning and becomes a lot more relatable….hint hint MOF!
The design team ate their weight in the best food Brighton had to offer, came back with multiple freebies and a new designers’ glint in their eye! We would thoroughly recommend a trip to ‘Reasons to’, to shake up your comfort zone and get inspired.
Also published on Medium.