Semi Permanent 2020 Highlights

9 months ago by

This time last week the DA team attended the 2020 Semi Permanent event at the Aotea centre. It was an incredible day, 27 luminaries of Aotearoa art and design explored diverse creative, social and cultural themes. The entire event is available online to stream for free – you can watch on-demand here We reflect on the success of the format and highlights from our favourite speakers below;

Don’t forget to get out, out of your box, out of design. Get inspired, talk to people, get excited and energised again. Nothing beats being there and we’re lucky to be able to be here. Thank-you semi permanent 2020

I loved seeing the respect and inclusion of Maori culture and protocols – I’ve been waiting for that. And the diversity of speakers, starting with the women. And the co-hosting. Nice work – what a pleasure to celebrate the stories of journey, hard work and world class work. Right in Aotearoa NZ. We don’t need to hear another tech success story from an overseas male perspective. Thank you everyone that was involved in this shift and the kindness is putting on this event in this way in this year.

– Louise Kellerman (DA Founder)


I was impressed by the optimism and diversity of speakers. It was energising to hear people talk about how they have overcome adversity in their practice and how they have grown personally & professionally from challenge. The collegiate nature of the event was also really encouraging – just as we are a team nationally – SP made it clear Aotearoa creative industries are unified and working in collaboration not competition with our peers. Another recurring theme that I admired in the presentations was the desire to effect positive change beyond our shores. Our designers are good global citizens and that was highlighted throughout the day.

– Nicole Arnett Phillips (DA Editor)


Nicole: Heath Lowe and Tony Bradbourne from Special Group were a stand out for me. They were key sponsors of the event (alongside Alt and ATEED) as “an opportunity to give back to the industry that has given so much to special as its grown.” They spoke about starting in a downturn (as Special was founded 13 years ago during the GFC): “hard times offer opportunities – the world really does need kiwi creativity at the moment.” Special was born to make a difference. “For our clients our customers and the world we live in. We want to create work that makes a dent!” Semi Permanent was an opportunity to launch an initiative called New Zealand needs startups, helping businesses get off the ground in this challenging time. Special went from zero clients and one desk with three chairs to be Australiasia’s most awarded independent design company with offices in Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles. So now its time for them to give back they are looking for three startups to provide their strategic, comms design and digital expertise to enable those businesses become international success stories. because they “love making work that matters to more people than just us!”


Louise: The opening quote of the day was “Creativity is central to life.” Throughout the event there was a focus on the creative industries as a career option and as an economic generator of jobs. Speakers also discussed visuality and modality, the resilience of converging technologies, our inlfuence and how everything is political!
  • “Inspiration is a mirror – what you see is something you aspire to, it is also an invitation to participate.” (Chloe Swarbrick)
  • “Ideas travel, creativity travels – Aotearoa design has the power to affect and change the world.” (Chloe Swarbrick)

Nicole: Springload founder Bron Thomson was my favourite session of the day. While interviewing for a job, Bron was asked How many all-nighters are you prepared to do before you quit? A Wide-eyed tired guy in the corner of the studio looked at her and Bron decided to go out on her own! From humble beginnings freelancing in her spare room and asking friends to help out when she was overloaded. Bron went on to sell 50% of the business for $30k and Springload was born. Now recognised as New Zealand’s leading digital studio Bron is often asked about her exit strategy. “I just want to work with smart awesome people and doing work for awesome people that leave the work a tiny bit better than we found it.”

  • Do you need a growth strategy? Do we have to grow? I have never been driven by money – I just don’t give a shit – I am hard wired by a frugal founder mentality. (Bron Thompson)
  • Money is a measure of what you do – if you’re good at what you do you’ll make money – if you look after your people well and do good work your business will take care of itself we have organically grown on the back of looking after my people and doing good work. (Bron Thompson)
  • The world is fucked – technology can be the saviour but it is also part of the problem. Springload made it their mission to use their digital design superpowers for good. (Bron Thompson)
  • Instead of a growth strategy, we need regeneration development strategies. (Bron Thompson)
  • A desire to thrive – nurture the garden – nurture the people and nurture the planet. (Bron Thompson)

If meaning is relative our goal is to give clients the best possible chance to create something memorable and distinctive for their audience. (Kelvin Soh)


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