Waiting is over, Go East! — Eastern Design Conference
“In central Europe, design is at a crossroads. It is 15 yearssince the collapse of communism and the arrival of democracy and the free market and a great deal has happened in the design communities of countries such as the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland and Hungary…
There is a chance not simply to produce a local imitation of western design, but to develop goals and ways of working which have their basis in the visual histories and cultural concerns of the region.”
Last autumn when the three of us had started to think and talk about a possible design conference in Košice, we thought that we would be ready for the official announcement and launching latest by May/early June 2018. Of course this plan was far from reality. But now the moment has come to officially announce that we are ready for what we’ve been working for the past 10 months.
What is the conference about and why we have created it? Europe, Eastern Europe, Kosice, regional genius loci, which exists not only here in this region but also in other parts of the world.
Three is a magic number– The concept of the conference
- First, we will consider the location-specific capabilities, the specific knowledge that has been created under the effects of the eastern European, unique environment, and the applications that have emerged from it and are still under development. Here, we are not just thinking of designer skills, but also entrepreneurial skills. These are both related and interconnected in the work of a designer. This is one of the questions we would like to discuss — right, good attitudes and best practices. But let us ask another question: why is it so, why has it turned to be so and is it really the case? We think that yes, we are convinced that there is something special in this region and not just from a designer perspective. We would like to discuss this with you, as noted by Rick Poynor in the above citation, for which I thank Zsolt Czakó.
- The other thought that came to our minds when we were formulating our idea and expectations about the Eastern Conference was that in many conferences the speakers, besides presenting their own portfolio, do not provide to their audience any additional information or takeaways on the thoughts or processes of creation. Although these occasions are unique opportunities for knowledge transfer. We would like to change this and that is why the second idea came to call the customer and the designer together on stage so each of them would describe the genesis and the process of their specific project from their own perspective — we call them Double shots.This should tackle two issues at the same time. On the one hand, it will solve the unfortunate attitude of the speaker presenting only his own work and, on the other hand, it will bring the insight of the customer’s thoughts as a businessman, which in our view is a very exciting opportunity to get acquainted with the customer’s ideas and expectations. Together, the designer and the client, will talk about the same concrete work.
- The third, not less important part of our plan, was to create and present a momentum for local designers, design students, UI/UX designers, for publishers and local graphic design studios living in the narrower region, to get acquainted with and learn about the existing design approaches and their application techniques in the world. They could then use them in their work, helping this way the development of this region and this community. At the conference participants will be able to get in direct contact with the speakers and have the opportunity to build new relationships. We are planning various hands-on practices with local design/art schools in form of workshops and different participation possibilities on the Eastern.
When we started planning for the Eastern, we wanted to re-evaluate our ideas of the conference and test our vision and mission with our designer colleagues. That is why we have prepared a questionnaire including our ideas we have not been 100% sure of or we have seen or interpreted differently. We sent out the questionnaire to 64 people, of whom 58 responded. What is a high score, and we are grateful to our friends as it helped us to see more clearly. And that’s not all. Furthermore, among the responses we have received many new, intriguing suggestions, some of them have changed or improved our original ideas, vision and mission.
For us it is clear that such”Eastern” places exist elsewhere in the world, not just here in Eastern Europe. In America, East-West Coast, in India and Europe, respectively. America’s relationship, Japan’s unique attitude and way of thinking, and of course Africa’s specificity. Or the theory and practice of publishing great South American daily newspapers in Spanish and Portuguese, for example. So we do not know where we will get with our conference, but we will not stay only within the Eastern European region, believing that there are many wonderful and interesting Eastern places around us in the world.
Loud and clear
In this spirit we have invited our speakers to think together, primarily Oliver Klimpel, who will lead the lectures through his vision, knowledge and unique style. Once you have seen and heard Oliver, you will never forget him, his special audio-visual guides are unforgettable. Those who will definitely talk to you and talk with you: Liv Siddall, Najbrt studio + MUNI Masarykova University, Studio Feixen, Martin Bajaník + Potraviny Yeme, David Gaquelin, Petra Dočekalová, Lars Harmsen or Peter Hajdin + The Slovak Presidential Secretariat… we will continuously announce the new speakers on our Facebook and related social channels.
The two-day Eastern Design Conference will be held in English on 26–27 October in Kosice, with six speakers each day and a panel discussions with Oliver Klimpel in the evenings. We strive for quality, not quantity, we are working to make presentations memorable, lasting and useful. Even though the list of this year’s speakers is closed, we will still welcome your ideas and suggestions. If you have any special or unique, exemplary solutions that are exciting, share them with us. Here is the email address where you can contact us: email@example.com
Partners, not sponsors
From the very beginning we’ve aimed for a self-supporting conference to demonstrate that such a conference can stand as a business venture and as an inspirational event. That is why you, the participants of our conference — designers and interested — are our first partners on this path.
A partnership for us is a relationship. In a relationship we pay attention to each other, keeping in mind the needs and plans of our partner and helping to reach his/her goals and supporting his/her activities. We are looking for partners who would share the same vision about our mission, they would see, understand and help it. Partnership for us is long-term and is based on reciprocity. This is our vision about our present and future partners, our colleagues or even our helpers. You are so many who helped us to get here. We thank to all of you for the help and support.
Thanks to Slanted Magazine and personally to Lars Harmsen,who saw fantasy in the conference since the very first moment and helps with its propagation. Special thanks to Barbara Rusnáková, who is directing our Eastern Stories Instagram channel so sensitively and spiritually, just have a look, you will not resist, the whole channel is a true eastern stuff.
Thanks also to Ondrej Jób, one of the best-known Slovak letter designer, his constant and continuous assistance as a contemporary Slovakian typeface designer to the whole conference. The Woodkit, what we use on the Eastern website, is a real eastern delicacy, with Western European and American inspiration and real Eastern European seasoning.
Michal Kuchtahelps with the English texts on our website. Thanks Dániel Veresand Ferko Psotka for the development of the website. Thank you all for your support and assistance!
We are looking for long-term partners who would share the Eastern mission. If you know someone or you feel that you are one of them, please contact us.
The site of the Eastern Design Conference is itself an example of a dedicated concept of thinking and action. With its historical tradition and memories, architecture, diverse ethnicity and its cultural life, Kosice is one of the most exciting cities not only in Slovakia but also in its wider region. An outstanding example is Tabačka Kulturfabrik, one of the most famous independent cultural centers in Slovakia. More than fifteen years ago, the idea of creating a center was born with the perseverance of its director who followed his dreams in favour of the community, showing an example to all of us. The conference will be arranged here.
Hidden gems — brand and visual identity
The identity of the conference is made in the spirit of organic and continous design. We believe in continous interlinked design processes wherethesteps are organically linked and created along casual relationships that are not timed but the actual need when real-life situations provide specific, related solutions to the previous steps of design process.
The first component of the identity is the Woodkit, award winningtypeface already mentioned above. The unique, characteristically colored palette is the second visible and decisive elementwhich was pickedfrom the traditional ceramics of Pozdišovce, a small village in Eastern Slovakia.The third element is reiteration and repetition. On one hand this refers to the endless experimentation and repetition present in the design process, on the other hand it is a secret, quiet tribute to the spirit of Oldřich Hlavsa.