Kia ora friends, stepping out from the collective DA team voice here to talk to share my (Nicole Arnett Phillips) personal experience with The Design Conference
“The Design Conference is an event for creatives. We navigate more than the future of design — but what design means in the hearts and minds of the worlds best creative leaders. By being transparent and vulnerable, we engineer an experience which will move, motivate and connect you with a path to a balanced future”
I spent 14 years living and working overseas and most of that was based in Brisbane. I first attended The Design Conference in 2013 and it became an annual fixture in my calander. The speaking lineup was always diverse and inspiring, the content was framed as much around the culture and business of design as it was around the speaker’s output and aesthetics. Creative professionals from all walks of life spoke candidly about success and balance, in contemporary design practice. The events were equal measures about motivating, educating, and connecting our community. A rich and varied experience the conference talks were encapsulated with workshops and break-out events, social gatherings, and exhibitions making it akin to a festival of design.
In 2016 I was invited to deliver a keynote at the conference. (You can view my talk and some of the other alumni’s presentations here). I had delivered keynotes at conferences previously but never to a room of 750 people… I was racked with nerves to share the stage with so many designers I admired, particularly as a typographer following letterer Jess Hische who (deservedly) has a global cult-like following!
The Design Conference founder Matt Haynes (a designer and formerly a professional baseball player in the US) did his best to ease my anxiety convincing me to shake it out with some dance moves backstage and also let my husband hide in the wings!
As you might imagine, I have a lot of heart for the event and since moving home to NZ I have followed The Design Conference via social media and was always eager to view any of the presentation content online. I would use the event hashtags to trawl Instagram for live snippets of the event and binge-watch any presentations later released via vimeo. So personally I was incredibly excited to read that Matt has evolved the format so that it can be streamed from anywhere in the world, enabling the Aotearoa design community to dial in and participate in the live event.
This year, The Design Conference celebrates its 10th annual event with a cracking line-up of 20+ speakers when it returns to Brisbane Powerhouse from Wednesday 16 – Friday 18 June 2021.
From critically acclaimed strategists to the world’s best creatives, this years schedule includes speakers from R/GA (Sydney), Bigfish (Brisbane), AKQA (Sydney) and Studio Round (Melbourne) and many more, all of who will share their insights during their keynote addresses. The line-up was initially scheduled for May 2020 but was postponed due to COVID-19 disruptions. Matt said businesses across all industries would need to learn how to tap into creative thinking to survive in a post-COVID-19 world. So the new format means The Design Conference can also be streamed through an Immersive Digital Experience in collaboration with Australian Start-up success, Orbits.
“If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that businesses have to evolve to stay in the game,” said conference founder Matt Haynes. “The Design Conference is curated to motivate its visitors to do just that, delving into more than just the future of design but rather outlining how to think and live creatively.” Matt told us; “I curate TDC with men and women who are brave enough to contribute something of significance. Every year she matures in content, context and substance, sharing many vital lessons. In 2021 she reminds us, it’s always darkest before the dawn.”
In his efforts to make the conference more accessible Universities from around the world are also invited to tune in for free, and community-focused organisations (including DA) have partnered with The Design Conference to offer discounted in person and streaming access to their members.