Thursday, 20 March 2008

Design Futures - Design Wales Event 19th March 2008

We all went to Design Wales' Design Futures evening last night, at the Riverfront Theatre in Newport. This was the second year it has taken place, with last year Wally Olins (Safron) and Martin Raymond (The Future Laboratory) being guest speakers. Last years event was a great event with the guest speakers really giving me a new view and look into certain aspects of design. As well as the speakers there is also the student Ffres awards.

So I was really looking forward to last night, it is the first time we have all been out together for ages, as we have been really busy but it is good to stretch the legs  and get of the office sometimes. The years guest speakers came from very different aspects of the design scene. The first guest speaker was Pete Fowler (of Super Furry Animals CD sleeve fame), I remember years ago going with my father to one of his exhibitions in Cardiff. I think it was near Jacobs antiques in the Centre of town, probably been knocked down now. He basically gave us a whistle stop tour of what he has been getting up to over the last 8-10 years. I find his work really interesting and I love the magical world he has created over the years. The only thing that did put me off was a gentleman behind me who obviously was not as impressed as me due to the large amount of snoring that was coming from him!!

To break up the speakers there were mini videos that had been produced for three companies to highlight the effect design has had on their business, and how design has made them more competitive in their market place. The videos were about Mustang Marine, Melin Tregwynt and DMM. I was really looking forward to the DMM video as I have trusted these guys with my life on many occasions. For those of you who do not know DMM is a manufacturer of Rock and ice climbing hardware. They produce karabiners, 'friends' and rocks to aid you climbing up the rock face. From the age of about 12 I have climbed (although with the business of the company very little at recently) and DMM was the equipment I always wanted to own. It was always so beautiful even back then, DMM and PETZL always had that bit extra about their products something that you coveted. 

The video itself was ok if a bit dated with regards to its editing but I was slightly disappointed in the fact that the feeling of the DMM brand and of what it allows people to do for me personally did not really come across. While I realise it and indeed all of the videos were about the companies and how they have used design to help them become even more competitive, for me the customer/client is the real person who is important in this equation. And in that respect what more brand loyalty could you get than a video about a climber (customer) risking his/her life with their product?

As well as these videos and the guest speakers were this years Ffres awards. The awards have been set up by Design Wales and is about the second or third year they have taken place I think. The competition are for Welsh students or students studying in Wales. The categories being in graphics, textiles, fashion and product, with each brief being set by an industrial leader in the sector. There were some really interesting pieces that were shown in the shortlisted students and I single handedly managed to get the winners wrong every time. For me although competitions are about realisation and practicality if these items are never to be produced then they are also about pushing and exploring? 

The final speaker of the evening was who I had really been waiting for all night. Jonathan Sands, Chairman of elmwood Design Ltd and member of the Design Council. Elmwood are a really different company, a different world. Through their business based approach they have worked with amazing clients and have offices all over the world. The most interesting thing though is that he is from Yorkshire. So I instantly like him even more so when his first offices were in Pudsey. The reason being my mum and dad are both from Farsley and Pudsey respectively. his talk was really interesting and very enlightening. It also made a lot of sense with a number of bits really reaffirming what we have been implementing in our business over the last year or so.

No comments: