Used to the more ‘niche’ editorial design conferences, this mega-all-in-one event was really something. Not sure what is the official number of attendants, but I believe was over 2,000 creatives from all over Europe (and some other parts of the world)
That the conference was solely in English with no translation service, in a country that is not particularly know for its language skills, either tells you the cosmopolitism degree of the event or that designers are just as happy looking at pictures without getting what is said.. In any case, it was a joy to have it hosted in such an emblematic building, with such an amazing weather. It made it really hard to get back to the rooms after enjoying a cold beer under the sun..
Barcelona is also a great city, and despite the difficulties to find somewhere to stay (this weekend OFFF shared the city with the hordes that came for either the music festival Primavera Sound, an AC/DC gig, or the King’s Cup football final), it is always a joy to walk through the city, finding inspiration everywhere. And inspiration was also what OFFF had to offer through its packed schedule of talks during 3 days.
It will be impossible to mention every single interesting work I was exposed to, or words that inspired me. Given my background, I skipped many of the CGI / UX / animation talks and focused in graphic design, typography and illustration. Some art direction was truly mind blowing. Food for thought came from the star of the program, Stefan Sagmeister, which made a talk about beauty vs utility. Most of the talk was similar to the one you can find here. No much new work to show, but still amazing to see some of his projects, as the making of the sentence ‘obsessions make my life worse but my work better’ in different shaded gold euro cents. This subject (how designers should care about beauty) was also touched by another great presentation by Sawdust, who showed an old interview with the master Saul Bass, and his famous quote “I want everything we do to be beautiful. I don’t give a damn whether the client understands that that’s worth anything, or that the client thinks it’s worth anything, or whether it is worth anything. It’s worth it to me. It’s the way I want to live my life. I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.” This preciousness and sense of responsibility of a designer is what makes the difference between an Ok job and the sort of outstanding work we were looking at in OFFF
Funnily enough, were the simple words of down-to-earth illustrator Chuck Anderson what still resonate more in my head “If you do something, something will happen” (or even clearly: if you do nothing, nothing will happen…)
Here are my highlights of the event
The best moments
- Looking at the ‘labour of love’ that is the work of Noelia Lozano
- Laughing while getting an insight on the intricate world of Lizzie Mary Cullen
- Learning about how not to be a prisoner of your own style and never lose the curious mind to explore and reinvent yourself with Steve Wilson
- Listening to Chuck Anderson debating pros and cons about accepting a full time job, losing your ‘freedom’
- Looking in awe to the outstanding typographical work of Sawdust and Rick Banks
- Catching up with people I haven’t seen in ages!
The not-so-good moments
- Queueing for almost everything, missing talks due to bad organization (not allowing people to get into the room even if there was space inside)
- I guess the organization was overwhelmed… I think 2,000 designers / hipsters could have done with more shops, eateries etc..
- The whole Vasava ‘spoof’ presentation was a bit.. strange.. I guess on paper may had been a good idea, but this thing about discovering a hidden ‘cult’ didn’t materialize that well in reality
- CGI designers may not be the most eloquent lot..
- Snask finale, where it looked the entire OFFF team had left them to their own devices and gone watching Barça playing..
All in all, was an amazing experience, and hope I can repeat it next year, dates have already been released!!