In November the design team of Gridonic was able to attend the KIKK Design Festival in Namur, Belgium. Throughout two days we've listened to various talks from artists, techies, innovators and designers from all over the world. We'd like to look back and share some highlights with you – what inspired us? Which insights did we bring back and how are we applying them in our daily business?
Let's start with some quick facts about the festival. KIKK was founded in 2011 (the same year as Gridonic, yeah!) and is a non-profit organization who promotes digital and creative culture. The main purpose of the annual event is to connect art, culture, science and technology. Nowadays the KIKK design festival is internationally recognized in the creative digital scene. This year there were 50 speakers and around 25'000 visitors at the festival. One of the specialities of the festival is that all the talks are for free and available for everyone. The talks were held in two venues, one of them was the stunning Namur Théâtre with a ceiling mural, an enormous chandelier and velvet seating.
Let us begin with Marco Coppeto senior designer at ueno. Currently one of the best full-service digital agencies with focus on design, digital brand and products. Marco talked about the internal workflow and how he, as italian, ended up in iceland. The main message from him was, that you should trust your gut, be yourself and have fun at what you are doing.
"Trust your gut and be your best self" – Marco Coppeto
Next up on our list is Brendan Dawes. Besides his incredible work he's a really funny guy and his talk was super entertaining. Brendan is a designer and artist who explores the interaction between objects, humans and technology using a mix of analog and digital materials. In the digital age people often forget that behind a username or tweet there's still a person. With his inventions Brendan wants to make data tangible again. Two inventions of his, which really resonated with me were the Happiness Machine who prints randomly chosen happy messages from all over the web. And the Plastic Player, an analog player for digital music which works with diapositives in a unconventional way. One of the things I remember him saying is: design is about answers, art about questions.
"Design is about answers, art about questions" – Brendan Dawes
Graham McDonnell, a visual storyteller at the New York Times, talked about how important content and storytelling is for a good product. Everybody loves a good story, he showed us a very emotional video ad made for the spanish lottery. It served as a great example to show that the focus shouldn't lie on the product itself but on the emotional connection. That's where he brought in the analogy about children and vegetables. Oftentimes they won't eat the vegetables when they see it on the plate, but put them in a fancy smoothie and suddenly it's no problem. So do remember to hide your vegetables!
"Content is King, Design is the Castle" – Graham McDonnell
And at last Grant Gilbert from the DBLG Agency in London. Founded in 2007 by Grant the agency is specialised in visual communication, brand design and animation. Grant said creativity sometimes means, having to break things apart before reassembling them. They experiment a lot especially with 3D printing lately, which gives them the chance to play and create new ideas for bold forward thinking clients.
"Creativity sometimes means having to break things apart before reassembling them" – Grant Gilbert
Some of you may know the feeling: after a conference or festival everyone feels excited and inspired when returning to their day job. After a couple of days it starts to fade and after one month – what's left?
The talks we remember best are the ones that were entertaining, had a good touch of humour and emotionally attracting stories. We got some good tips on how to approach projects – different or unconventional methods, with which we were not familiar. Apart from the positive impressions we also tried to learn from the things we didn't like so much.
If we would have to summarize the essence of our KIKK learnings we'd say:
Don't be too serious, don't be afraid to make mistakes and always learn from them. And don't forget to go out and play!
It was a great experience and we definitely can recommend the KIKK festival for everyone. A little tip: book your hotel as early as you can, because Namur is not a very big city...