At design conferences you usually see a showcase of impressive digital work. You get overwhelmed by flashy animations, creative websites and cool apps for the biggest brands in the world. Last week I was at a different kind of conference: New Adventures in Nottingham.

The presentations I saw here went beyond: “look what I made” or “you have to use this software”. It was more about the consequences of technology, the responsibility of the people working on the web and how we can make it accessible to everyone.

The conference was held in a beautiful concert hall, the Albert Hall. Extra effort was made to make it accessible, for example by offering silent rooms, a joint lunch and stickers with which you could indicate whether or not you wanted to talk to someone.

Illustration by Oscar Grønner

Each year Bakken & Bæck , a digital product studio from Norway, hosts a one-day conference called “An Interesting Day”. They invite interesting people from the tech and design field to talk about their projects, random daydreams and serendipitous strategies.

I was lucky to receive an invite this year, so I though: why not write a few words about my experience.

This year the event was at De School, a former school building in Amsterdam West, which now functions as a nightclub, restaurant and event location. Each attendee received a tote bag (and patches!) with the conference illustrations by Oscar…

Zoek je een leuk boek voor die designer in je leven? Dan heb je geluk, want de afgelopen jaren zijn er flink wat boeken verschenen over creativiteit en design. In dit artikel deel ik mijn zeven favoriete boeken, misschien zit er wat voor je bij?

KIKK Festival 2017 — Invisible Narratives 🦍

It’s the start of November which means: it’s time for KIKK Festival. KIKK is a festival about art, technology and creativity that takes place over several days in the beautiful city of Namur, Belgium. The conference is in the Théâtre de Namur and there are showcases of international startups and art installations around the city.

Here’s a short summary of my three favourite talks:

The Rubber Duck, by Florentijn Hofman, meant to help spread joy around the world by evoking childhood memories.

When I started designing for the web you couldn’t do a lot with html. Everything was just plain text, images and hyperlinks. You could only use a handful of fonts. Maybe an animated GIF here and there. And if you wanted to create a layout, you had to use standard tables, or image maps. But then came CSS, Javascript and Flash. And with that came the possibility to design fresh and crazy layouts. We could use audio and video and all the fonts in the world. We were unstoppable!

Then the smartphone came. We started having access to the internet…

The Kikk Festival crowd at Théâtre de Namur

Two weeks ago my colleagues and I travelled to Namur Belgium for Kikk Festival, an international festival of creativity in digital cultures. Kikk Festival brings together the world’s most talented creative coders, innovators, designers, artists and researchers. Here are five reasons you should go next year.

1. Step away from your glowing screen

It might seem obvious, but at Mangrove we believe that to be inspired you need to stop staring at your screen and go out into the world. Reading about innovative projects on blogs is very different from seeing a person in real life talk passionately about his or her work. …

This week marks the fifteenth year of my career as a designer. Over the years I’ve worked at four companies ranging in size from 4 to 40 people.

I’ve been fortunate to have worked within different disciplines of design (i.e. identity, print, digital) and for clients ranging from small independents to large international companies.

This has shaped me into a designer with a large skill set and a broad perspective. I would like to take this moment to share some of the things I remind myself of from time to time to keep me on the right path. I hope you find some value in them, I know I do.

Here we go:

Be confident, not stubborn

Show your work to your friends and colleagues often to get their critiques, but don’t blindly do what they say. Interpret what they say and make it your own. You don’t have all the answers, so don’t be afraid to ask…

An important part of the Mangrove Culture

It’s 10:50 AM and my phone tells me there’s a presentation in 10 minutes. I finish what I’m doing and then I hear a loud *ding*. That sound is the ringing of the bell, indicating that a presentation is about to start. Everyone in the agency is there, accounting, finance, management, developers and designers.

Today Rens is sharing his experience with the static-site-generator Middleman. It’s a tool he’s been using for one of our clients and he and his team are very excited about it so he made a presentation telling everyone about the benefits. He keeps his presentation short…

My Obsession With Details

I’m a type-nerd. There, I said it. Whenever I look at a text or logo I’ll try to recognise the typeface. I’m annoyed by improper kerning (a.k.a. keming) and every time I read a text I check if the right characters are used. In this blogpost I’ll show you some examples of the rights and wrongs in typesetting.

Quotation marks

The most common mistake I see is the use of dumb quotes a.k.a. straight quotes. For example: this is wrong. This is “right”. See the curly quotes? Here’s a bigger example:

"straight quotes" → wrong

“Smart” quotes are better than “dumb” quotes.

This month I attended the fifth – and final – Brooklyn Beta, an annual gathering of some of the friendliest folks on the web.

What started out as a small gathering of friends has grown into an amazing event with an even more amazing community. It takes place at a beautiful venue, no speakers are announced upfront and there are long breaks between the talks that enable you to talk to other attendees. With speakers ranging from musicians to artists, from CEO’s to ex-convicts, the talks are always very diverse and inspiring.

The Reunion

The first two days of the conference were at The Invisible Dog Art Centre with about 300 attendees, most of which have attended the previous years.

We saw John Maeda – design…

Jan-Paul Koudstaal

Freelance Digital Designer

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