Design Conferences: the way forward.
Posted by: Typespec
Date added: Mon 14 May 2012
The design conference season is getting into full swing but with the UK economy officially back in recession there are a few signs that organisers are being forced to work harder and smarter in order to put bums on seats and ensure their event breaks even.
Last autumn's inaugural Typo London conference was a critical, if not commercial, success and deservedly returns again in October. The £650 fee for design professionals raised a few eyebrows however, and sparked debate about the affordability and value for money of such events. Even with the likes of Neville Brody, Erik Spiekermann and Chip Kidd on board.
There's no doubting the networking opportunities a 3 day conference provides but for a growing number the expense and time commitment is proving ever harder to justify in the current climate. Particularly when most talks can be viewed online from the comfort of your office chair so soon after the event. For free.
Last month's Cheltenham Design Conference boasted an impressive line up of speakers but perhaps most noticeable were the innovative ticketing options on offer. Why pay for the full 3 days when, in music festival fashion, you could buy individual day passes if you wanted? Or, in iTunes download mode, just pay to see a single speaker like Stefan Sagmeister strut his stuff? "Who's designing the future?" was the conference theme and we may have witnessed the future reality of ticket selling for gatherings like this.
Most people (want to) leave a conference feeling revitalised and inspired, but 3 day events invariably become feats of endurance that sap your energy and empty your pockets. One day shindigs are the way forward, exemplified by Ampersand, Brighton's web typography conference, which is back for a second turn on June 15th; Jason Smith, Luc(as) de Groot et al, and at a very affordable £125. Get educated about the state of type on the web, have a beer or two on the beach and get the last train home.
Can't commit to a full day out of the office? Then what about the afternoon event, such as Manchester's excellent Design Symposium which debuted in March? Delegates were enthralled by an impressive speaker line up (Morag Myerscough, Adrian Shaughnessy, Malcolm Garrett etc) debating design and the economy in truly auspicious surroundings. Top price: £50.
Thought provoking design and typography gatherings needn't cost the earth. The Typographic Circle's regular soirées at JWT, Knightsbridge Green, are excellent value and a must for students.
You can't beat a freebie of course, and the cream of the UK's type community were out in force recently for the launch of Jeremy Tankard's striking new Fenland typeface at the Kemistry Gallery in London. Wall to wall type and free beer all night, now that's my kind of event!
[Picture: Jonathan Barnbrook at Typo London, photo by Gerhard Kassner]
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