Earlier than usual this year, design conference Offset returned to the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in mid-February. It brought the usual mix of almost 2,000 attendees from Dublin and around the world, and a more internationally biased group of speakers and interviewees. Aside from a host of ‘Offsite’ auxiliary events, the focus of the event was around talks and showcases on the main stage, and a second stage for discussion and debate. In an admittedly unscientific sampling of opinions, I gathered the thoughts of a small range of delegate on or directly after the weekend’s event.

 

The Teacher

John Paul Dowling

Head of Department: Visual Communication at NCAD

Fifth time at Offset

 

“Hard to choose a favourite talk, but when Chemistry had half of the entire theatre stand up to illustrate the point that by 2020 one in two Irish people will get a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, that was a powerful moment.”

“For me Mirko Borsche was a disappointment… not the work, the work is great, but all we saw was the work. No great insights, ethos or deconstruction of process. Work like Borsche’s is grounded in solid typographic principles, but it is always awkward, slightly off kilter, even wrong, but to a trained eye it is fresh, inventive, almost avant-garde and boy does graphic design need it right now.”

“With work of this stature the term ‘new graphic language’ is bandied about a lot. So it would have been interesting to hear where his studio is coming from or reacting against. Simply pointing to Vaporwave influences was not enough for me. Granted the work is easier to read (aesthetically) than some of his contemporaries such as Metahaven, I couldn’t help but feel short-changed.”

“My overall highlight… Bruno Maag, Panicdotes, second Stage on Saturday. I guess you’d have to have been there (and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want it published), but lets say Chinese diplomats, brown envelopes, hidden cameras and font licenses for mobile devices. Absolute madness, who said typography was boring!”

“For the future I’d love to see a pioneering academic get a main stage slot, the likes of Christopher Frayling, Ken Robinson or Carol Dweck to name but a few.”

 

The non-designer

Elaine Verdon

Communications Director at Thinkhouse

First time at Offset

 

“[It was as I expected] in the fact that I expected there to be lots of designers, talks and general stuff happening. But not in the sense that I thought it would have bigger vibe to it? I’ve been to creative and tech conferences, and I suppose I had thought it would be bigger? With more interactive elements.”

“I had a few highlights, but Gavin Little (Echolab) was incredible, I find sound design to be hugely interesting and I really enjoyed his interactive presentation style. It was a sensory experience in itself! Kelli Anderson and Shane Griffin were also really good. And Nils Leonard of Grey’s – from an agency management perspective – had great insights.”

“I think the venue was a let down. It’s so stuffy and warm in the auditorium that it was hard to stay awake? Some speakers were less prepared or being honest, were a lil boring… and according to my colleagues not as good as years gone by. I would have liked to see more opportunities for networking and mentoring, meets or non-alcohol focused evening events?”

”I think there’s huge scope to bring the wider creative industry into the festival, not just focused on design/art? Is there scope for more of a focus on events, interiors and set building? I’m an aspiring interior designer and would have loved to have had more exposure to that.”

 

The Designer

Bob Gray

Director of Red&Grey Design, lecturer at NCAD

“[I’ve been at] all bar the first Offset — I was doing a 24 hour design challenge the same weekend!

 

“My expectations were not as high as previous years — I’m not sure why, maybe it’s just me. I think you’re always going to find some new things that you haven’t discovered yet. I also think there’s a lot of it just reaffirming what you’re doing yourself. You wonder ”Am I doing this the right way?” and somebody else says it, so then you say well ”maybe I am!””

“Kelli Anderson was a definite highlight. I thought she was great, really interesting process. I was looking at her speak, and a lot of her influences would be similar to mine: Charles and Ray Eames; Don Judd’s sculpture – lots of stuff that I could really relate to. She’s taken her work to a new level, it’s really inspiring for someone so young.”

“I really enjoy it when there’s an interview, especially when they’re a legend. So I really enjoyed Jean Paul Goude’s interview.

 

I think when you present for yourself, you’re giving forward a certain picture of yourself that you want people to know about. When there’s an interview you can get underneath that and actually discover a little bit more which I think can be more worthwhile for the audience maybe.”

 

The Student

Shauna Buckley

Visual Communication student, IADT

”This was actually my 4th Offset but due to the delegates party on the Friday they sometimes blur into one.

 

“Kirsten Lepore’s talk was really great, her work is awesome and gives you a fuzzy feeling inside. It’s encouraging to see intelligent and funny women at the top of their game. Besides that my other highlight would be Mirko Borshe’s wonderful and weird presentation, I’ve never seen anyone show their work like that which seemed like an artwork in itself.”

“I guess because it was a bit earlier this year I missed the 100 Archive involvement, it’s really exciting to see everyone’s work on a massive screen in the Bord Gáis Theatre.”

“I didn’t go to the second stage at all for the first time ever and that’s because of two things; the main stage speakers were really strong this year and because a lot of the second stage slots were curated by corporate companies I didn’t feel they would be of interest to me.”

“I was disappointed that Wolfgang Weingart wasn’t there but I understand that was because he’s ill, which is incredibly sad. Next year i’d to see a return to a less corporate Offset, but i’m sure there’s factors like sponsorship in play that affect these decisions. I’m also acutely aware that I might be slightly biased in my thinking!”

 

The Strategist

Lucy Remitz

Strategic planner at DDFH&B

First time at Offset

 

“I thought that it was going to be very similar to what it is; a creative showcase, and I was thinking that it would probably be about people’s processes and about how they get to certain places, which I think has been part of a lot of the talks now. I was really excited for the second stage [ahead of attending]. I’ve really enjoyed some of those more personal talks.”

“If we’re picking certain talks, I really loved the EchoLab talk. It’s funny because it’s something that I didn’t even think of as a type of design. It’s got me kind of thinking about in my own job what I could do. Which I’m very surprised about because I work in strategy so it has nothing to do with sound design.”

“I only found out I was going to Offset in the past two weeks so I wish I kind of was thinking ahead of time — it seems like there was a lot of other stuff you could have signed up for or been a part of. I wasn’t, simply because it was sold out by the time I realised it was there.”

“It would be hard to do more of the second stage stuff, but it feels like it’s like such a safe atmosphere. I loved ‘Panicdotes’. It is so nice to see people who are obviously huge and at the height of their careers have struggles and issues and moments when they’re like ‘what the fuck!’. That makes me feel better!”

Words: David Wall

Image Credits: Ellius Grace, Neil Dorgan

Comments

  • (will not be published)