D&AD Design Festival 2017

Author: Chloe Holden, Designer

From 25 to 27 April, The Old Truman Brewery opened its doors, to creatives and students from around the world for the D&AD Festival, for the second year. I attended all three days of the event, getting the opportunity to listen to leading creatives’ opinions on big issues our world faces, their views on shifts in technology and trends in the creative industry and how they continue to craft big ideas.

Here are my top highlights.

Creative Activism: Steve Vranakis, Executive Creative Director, Creative Lab, Google

‘Use tech to empower others who have less than us’ was the message of Steve Vranakis’s lecture, as he demonstrated the ways he and his team at Google’s Creative Lab were tackling what they saw as the big issues of the day by creating The Assembly of Youth, Internet Saathi and www.refugee.info

One project that really stuck in my mind was the simple yet thought-provoking work with UNICEF to create The Assembly of Youth, which enabled disadvantaged and vulnerable young people from around the world to have a voice at the UN. Google’s Creative Lab created a digital installation which connected these voices to the world’s leaders by presenting their texts on a live screen at the UN.

Ideas with Legs (and Arms, and Lungs, and a Heart): 
Dave King, Studio LR

‘Get emotionally involved’, was the advice given by Studio LR’s Dave King when revealing his team’s work for Seamab, a children’s charity in Scotland that provides a residential primary school for vulnerable children with complex needs in Scotland.

Although Studio LR was initially asked to only create the annual review for the charity, the agency saw value in rebranding Seamab to make it a place that the children were proud of. With a little help from the children at the school, a set of characters, named the Sea Changers were created to help the school tell its story.

The emotional involvement of Studio LR in this project was really apparent and I think that is why it was so successful in both its copywriting and design work. They really wanted to make a difference to these children’s lives and why it was one of my favourite talks from the festival.

37 Things I’ve Learnt by Mr Bingo, an illustrator, artist and speaker

Mr Bingo brought a lighthearted aspect to the D&AD proceedings by sharing with us the 37 things he has learnt since leaving client work to become solely an artist. Unfortunately I didn’t get to write down all 
 37 points because I was laughing too much, but the main points for me were as follows!

1. Don’t have a plan 
 (I think for a designer this is quite hard to do, but I feel the essence of this point is don’t stifle your creativity by failing to adapt to different situations.)

2. Don’t chase money
 (For me, I feel very fortunate to love my job and I think this is true for all creatives — it’s too consuming to do it just for money!)

3. Never be satisfied
 (I do and don’t agree with this point — yes, always strive to do better, but know every project needs to come to an end.)

4. Be persistent
 (If you believe in your idea, then yes, always be persistent.)

5. You don’t always get rewarded for hard work straight away
 (This is definitely a lesson worth learning, and I feel that it actually makes you work harder in the long run.)

6. Work with people who can do stuff, e.g. skills that you don’t have
 (It is all too easy to want to do all aspects of a project by yourself, but it can grow so much more if many creative experts work on it together.)

7. People respect honesty
 (I agree!)

8. People still think it’s ok to work for free 
 (I personally have been lucky enough to have never worked for free, but in principle, I believe it’s not right, considering how much hard work is put in with no reward.)

9. Don’t try to please everyone
 (Another great point! Our tastes and opinions are all so different, which just makes for a wealth of creativity and new ideas all the time.)

10. I’m full of flaws and contradictions, so don’t listen to me
 (This was Mr Bingo’s ending statement, and what works for him, might not work for you and he’s ok with that.)

Overall this year’s D&AD Festival was truly inspiring, from why beauty matters by Stefan Sagmeister to Piera Gelardi from Refinery29 on how to create courageous creativity. The wealth of ideas on how to make the world a better place in these turbulent times really makes you want to be part of the movement and create better design!