Society of Design Conference 2015


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Just back from an extended trip to Philadelphia to talk at the Society of Design conference. It took place in the Harrison Auditorium in Penn Museum and was hosted by Craig Welsh of Go Welsh.


Photo by wittynoggin on Instagram

As part of my talk, I revived the rearranging-corporate-copy idea of Corpoetics to write a poem based on Go Welsh’s profile copy.


Photo by @themodernchris on Twitter

I also took the chance to talk about a few interesting pieces of writing spotted over the last year or so.


Photo by thatgreenalien on Instagram

And it was my first opportunity to talk about a new version of this book, which will be coming out early next year.

The best part was being able to hear from six other speakers, all from different disciplines. To give an idea of the range:


John Ryan talked about his work as Director of Interaction Design at Local Projects, including this City Pulse installation at One World Trade Center. 

Oskar Zieta talked about his studio’s mind-boggling technique for inflating steel with high-pressured air to create strong but lightweight forms, for use in everything from furniture to space stations.


Spencer Charles and Kelly Thorn spoke about their beautiful work, previously for Louise Fili and now independently – I was a particular fan of this layered ampersand poster.


Alisa Wolfson gave an insight into design as part of a big ad agency – she heads the Department of Design at Leo Burnett in Chicago. Recipeace is the award-winning D&AD White Pencil project, but I also liked this single-minded branding work for McDonald’s.


Craig Dykers runs architectural firm Snøhetta, which is responsible for a wonderful array of buildings, including The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet and the 9/11 Memorial Museum Pavilion.


When Snøhetta turned its attention briefly from architecture to graphics, it immediately created one of the stand-out projects of the last decade. These Norwegian banknotes won a competition a while back and are coming into circulation next year.


Finally, Annie Atkins talked about her graphic design work for The Boxtrolls and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Not only great work, but also a fascinating story told with clarity and humour.

Thanks to Craig Welsh and everyone who provided such gracious hospitality. 

Talking writing


It’s not often I get away from my desk, but I’ve had the privilege of being invited to a Society of Design conference in Philadephia this October, thanks to organiser Craig Welsh at Go Welsh.

If this blog has any readers in or near Philadelphia, please come along – in fact, email me and I may be able to arrange a discount. You can find more information on the speakers (an interesting and eclectic line-up) and venue here:

I’ll be talking about the writing I like, the way writing works with design, giving some insight into a book I’ve been working on, and talking about anything else I can think of between now and October. Afterwards, I will have a beer with anyone who will drink with me.

Self-not-quite-initiated projects

As mentioned in the previous post, I recently took part in an evening of talks at the Jerwood Space in London, as part of the After Hours exhibition.

My talk was titled 'Self-not-quite-initiated projects' and you can see it here, from about 10mins 40secs onwards. The talk goes through a series of ideas and half-thoughts that I've had for future self-initiated projects. Once again, I should take this opportunity to heavily assert my copyright over all of them. 

The film also contains talks from Phil Carter, Jim Sutherland, Katie Edelsten and Annie Hazelwood, Craig Oldham, Michael Johnson and host Nick Eagleton, as well as some images of the exhibition itself if you were unable to make it along. 

Beer, talking


I’m going to the Old Truman Brewery in London this Thursday (11 November) to take part in a D&AD Sharp’ner event called Pads, pens and yellow pencils.

The theme is Writing for Design and the other panellists are John Simmons, Ceri Tallett, Jim Davies and Will Awdry. Each of us is giving a short talk, followed by a more open audience discussion.

It's good to see an event dedicated to Writing for Design – there should be plenty to talk about.

More importantly, the whole thing is taking place in a former brewery with a well-stocked bar.

Tickets are free for D&AD members and £5 for others.