Cheltenham Design Festival
Friday in the office was more upbeat than usual as I and the rest of the creative team were being freed from the shackles of our desks and heading out to to spend a few hours at the inaugural Cheltenham Design Festival.
Having read about the festival in Creative Review earlier that month, advertising had begun to appear across Cheltenham promoting the forthcoming event. For a change, it was nice to see QR codes being put to good use, and were popping up on distinctive yellow and black for sale boards all across town. The marketing team behind the event had done a sterling job and word of the festival had spread.
After a few last minute amends and a delayed departure we arrived at the Parabola Arts Centre to a hive of activity. Coffee, stands, books and creative networking filled the entrance as we took our seats in the main auditorium.
Front row seats, thank goodness it’s not a comedy gig. iPhone Notepad at the ready…no wi-fi, this is supposed to be a digital design festival? No matter, we were soon in the presence of design legends David Hillman of Pentagram and Bruce Duckworth of Turner Duckworth to name but a few.
The topic of discussion was the future of design, and I was excited to hear what designers of such calibre and experience though about what, why and how the industry would evolve.
The first conversation was based around branding, one of Creative’s strongest areas, so I was pleased to hear a discussion that John, the creative director and I had been having only days earlier.
The talk was of branding, and the fact that a brand now was much more than a logo and a poster. At Creative, we refer to this as ‘adaptive branding’, where we aim to achieve a consistent look but create a multi-dimensional brand that can change and evolve.
The conservation went on to describe how the media has largely remained the same but the client touch points have now changed. Clients view brands through a multitude of different channels and as a result, brands must to be able to adapt. However, no matter what the channel, the idea is key, and if the idea and core brand values are strong enough, then everything else within the brand will hold together.
To hear speakers of such regard in the industry, reinforcing the values and discussions we have in our own studio was extremely encouraging, and gave both I and John a wry smile.
The debate soon gathered pace, and topics were covered from client relationships and research, to recruitment and digital design. Hillman had the audience laughing as he described stories from his life at Pentagram, reflecting on a meeting with a difficult client who was insistent on what course of action was best… “do you go to the doctor with the symptom or the cure” he asked the client? “The symptom” the client replied. “Well then, I would appreciate it if you would treat me with the same respect!”
The panel were both old and young, experienced and upcoming, and their views and opinions divided. However, one thing that the panel did agree on, and something that made me reflect, is that Creativity is one of the greatest gifts given to mankind and I realised for moment, how lucky I was personally, to be granted that gift and be able to use it on a daily basis.
Before I knew it, the talk had finished, and after a quick coffee we returned to the office inspired and upbeat. Positive that the industry is alive and well, and humoured by that fact that even the top designers have exactly the same issues we face on a daily basis.
On returning to the office Client Services soon brought us back to earth, amendments to get done.
Ah well, as Duckworth said, a creative studio is like a football team, the designers are the players and everyone else are the supporters…
…Was that Rachael chanting my name? Oh yeah, those amends!
Can’t wait for the next event.
Mark Reed of Creative