Cheltenham design festival 2013: Our thoughts | Factor 3 Blog

Cheltenham Design Festival 2013: Our thoughts

Factor 3 have started a new tradition in attending the Cheltenham Design Festival. Two years on the trot is technically a tradition you know! So this year we thought we would crank it up a notch and send a few members of staff who work in both account handling and creative team to scope out the events they wanted to attend the most and give a review. Here are our thoughts…

Postcard from the creative industries (3.5 stars)

Mark Bonner, Spencer Buck, Michael Johnson and Craig Oldham

“Heads of four design agencies debated various issues within the industry including:

Ethics –when you’re running your own agency, do you chase the money and do all work given to you or only take work according to your own moral code?

Women in the creative business – Why don’t women (generally) set up their own agencies?

Are creative heads doing enough to support and nurture future graphic designers? A hideous statistic of 30,000 graphic designers graduate every year. The guys gave advice as to what graduates can do to give themselves the best possible chance. (Be commercial, take criticism on the chin, but be prepared to stand by your idea and you must have a minimum 6 brilliant ideas in your portfolio).

Good discussion. Basically reaffirmed my own thinking.” ~ Vic

The art of creative one-upmanship (3 stars)

Spencer Buck and Jessica Robinson

“An interesting insight into someone else’s client/designer relationship…Our business is very much about people and relationships and we (Factor3) have always said that the best work is produced when you have a strong and open relationship with a client. Always reassuring to hear what we say/think being said by others from agency world – and really refreshing to hear a client talking about the value (or not) of the word ‘like’ when it comes to assessing creative work…particularly if you (the client team) are not in the target audience for the brand/product.” ~ Prabha

The way we think (5 stars)

Bruce Duckworth

“A really inspiring talk on branding and what we know about brands has evolved from the 20th century. It looked at brand as a culture, and everything we know has been taught by the ‘stuff’ that is left behind by that brand (e.g. packaging, advertising etc), much like how we learn about cultures. Agencies have a responsibility to understand that the material culture that they create for their clients is left behind, so it has to be worth remembering. It was an event that I found myself talking about again and again.” ~ Gemma

Pilfering the riches of human capacity (4 stars)

Craig Oldham

“Delivered with a totally refreshing directness, he swore his way through an hour’s insight into what makes for good design: solving a problem in the most seamless, and ideally unnoticeable, way possible. I left with some inspiration and a couple of specific sound bites: ‘knowledge’ is far more engaged and powerful than ‘information’, which is passive; and ‘observing’ differs from ‘looking’ in exactly the same way, as it is questioning, learning and looking to appropriate.” ~ Mike

Face to face with Bruce Duckworth (3.5 stars)

“A far more run-of-the-mill affair – he’s a modest, middle-aged packaging designer who’s done some brilliant work. Bruce talked about his experiences on some of the world’s biggest brands in a very non-egotistical way. The key things I took from this live interview were: his mantra of “If you only show quality work, only quality work will run” (what a great truism that is); and an epiphany that I had that maybe a brand’s website is its ultimate form of packaging.” ~ Mike

An audience with Richard Seymour (5 stars)

“This was real futurology, delivered with insight, expertise, intelligence and humour. The talk had real depth and breadth, but at its heart laid a belief in the positive, indeed vital role that design and designers can play in shaping the future. He stressed too, how important it was for designers to observe the world to inform their thinking.

One neat example of divergent thinking was to show a picture of an old typewriter and asked the audience what it was. Answer: an old typewriter. He then revealed the answer given by a seven year old who’d never seen one before. The child said ‘Cool. A laptop you don’t have to plug in’. Different observation = different outcome.

The talk also covered emerging technologies, new ways of engagement, new working models, brand theories in flux in a digital world, a look at Apple, a personal ethos for design and much more.” ~ Ade

Only the pronoid thrive: Use design to change your thinking (5 stars)

Nick Jankel

“A really uplifting talk about how our beliefs and fears can often stifle our creativity and how if you challenge those beliefs we are able to become more grounded, intuitive, empathic and connected. Nick Jenkel spoke about how we can use these theories to empower and inspire us to innovate, as well as gain a better understanding and relationship with our clients.” ~ Liz

It looks good – but does it work? (1 star)

Peter York

“I was expecting solid examples of design concepts and why they did or did not fit into real life. Instead, the speaker went off on tangents and failed to finish sentences. Whilst I spent the hour trying to keep up, I did pick up on the fact that Peter York was trying to set up a debate on whether or not a designer should sacrifice their creativity to ‘make it fit’ into real life, where there are more non designers out there in the world. Which was more important; an applied concept or a creative concept?

This led me to think about circumstances in agency/client relationships where initial concepts can be whittled away until they no longer resemble the original concept. I left with a reaffirmed belief that there is a need for a balancing act between understanding what the end user will respond to and creativity grounded in commercial reality. Because commercial creativity is the type of creativity that should and indeed has to work.” ~ Gemma

Hooray! Why it’s never been a better time to be a designer.(4.5 stars)

Fred Deakin

“Nice guy in a nice jumper. Inspiring talk. Made me feel excited and proud to be a designer.” ~ Cathy

Does good design make us happy? (4 stars)

Neville Brody, David Constantine, Sir John Hegarty, Deyan Sudjic and Fi Glover

“Good interesting debate with industry professionals, the talk could have gone on even longer as felt it had only just got going (there was just so much to talk about).

The challenge was defining what we actually meant by the word ‘good’ and ‘happy’. E.g. does the work do its job so it makes us ‘happy’ or is it an object that looks ‘good’ so we buy it and it makes us ‘happy’. We even tried reversing the question; does bad design make us unhappy? Examples of design from the audience and questions from a variety of ages seemed to change the answer throughout the debate.” ~ Donna Woodcock

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