At the beginning of May we attended London’s latest design conference POINT. Boasting some big names from the design world including, Erik Spiekermann, Morag Myerscough, Jonathan Barnbrook and video interviews from Alan Fletcher and Milton Glaser the bar was already being set pretty high. POINT took place over two days at Royal Institute of British Architects in London’s west end, the choice of venue (with it’s wooden panelled theatre walls, grand entrance stair cases and architectural-orientated bookshops) and list of speakers set an intellectual and academic tone to the conference.
With just one theatre for all the speakers there was a lot of speakers to get through in both days. For the most part this meant short 30 minute talks in order to stick to a tight formal schedule which kept talks concise and focused. Unfortunately this didn’t leave much time for questions both from the live audience or via Twitter. As both days progressed speakers towards the end of the day were given hour long slots which, for the like of Morag Myerscough and Matt Webb gave the audience a much deeper insight into their work.
Every talk was chaired by one of a number of well known design commentators including Patrick Baglee and Patrick Burgoyne. Each chair did a great job of making the speakers feel welcomed and relaxed and providing the necessary background and tone prior to their talks.
The overarching theme of POINT was Authenticity which was responded to in varying degrees and styles. Speakers such as David Hieatt and Nick Couch that spoke quite directly and coherently about authenticity were most interesting and provided the most insight in comparison to those who spoke a little more ambiguously. The style of each talk reflected upon Authenticity and one clear theme that stood out amongst each speaker was the idea that being authentic is about doing what you love, following your soul or doing what you know is right. A poignant thought that had clearly helped many of the speakers make important career and life changing decisions and a point that resonated with us.
This was POINT’s first foray into the conference arena and although there were a couple of teething problems on the first day (with such a tightly packed speaker schedule and some A/V issues) these can only be expected of a conference in it’s infancy. By the end of the second day POINT felt much more like a polished and well rehearsed conference with big design hitters like Morag Myerscough and Jonathan Barnbrook wowing the crowd with insightful anecdotes and poignant opinions.
As we mentioned there was a definite air of academia about the two days (reflected in the refined POINT roundel) and the choice of descriptor, conference rather festival, definitely reflects the difference in tone in comparison to TYPO, OFFset and OFFF. This was also shown in the ticket price at £400/£180 (full price/concessions) — we’d have hoped to have seen another theatre room so there was a choice of talks to go to. Despite the higher ticket price POINT certainly seemed popular, completely selling out.
If you were at POINT this year we’d love to hear your thoughts and if you were unable to make it along there’s a wealth of information including some sneak peeks of Milton Glaser’s and Alan Fletcher’s prerecorded talks on the POINT site.
Here are our highlights of the two day event.
Erik is a seasoned pro when it comes to talks, captivating the audience with his Germanic wit within minutes (even after being told to be quiet by fellow contributor Emma for talking when sitting in the audience… oops!). Erik talked about authenticity in relation to process and how his agency Eden Spiekermann has been adopting a new approach to their work called the Agile Method.
Definitely one of the highlights of the two days was fellow FFF contributor Sean Rees along with Purpose colleague Nathan Webb. An emotional but articulate and impeccably delivered presentation by Sean on the branding work they’ve recently done for the McGuire Programme – a speech therapy programme aiding people who stutter, which Sean himself is a member of. This one oozed authenticity in both content and delivery.
This is a collaboration between Robert Francis Müller and Jessica Dance, and their talk began with them announcing their more permanent partnership and formation of a new studio Let’s Get Mullered and Dance. Showcasing their colourful and whimsical work, Robert and Jessica gave the talk as a sort of directors commentary giving a genuine behind the scenes feel.
Although female speakers were in the minority at POINT (we counted 27 men to a paltry 5 women) Morag’s captivating talk partially made up for what lacked in quantity. Taking us on a journey through her wide variety of work and the family history that led to her love of colours, patterns and type. Given the honour of closing the event, with the help of the Highliners (fronted by Luke Morgan, also Morag’s collaborator on Supergroup London) she definitely went out with a rock-a-billy bang.
Nick spoke very openly about following those ideas that you know feel right, taking a fresh approach to entrepreneurial ideas to be seen more as an investment in a hobby for a year rather than an investment in a new business. An simple but effective shift in framing the approach that has seen him leave his position as Creative Director of Figtree and now running the very successful Open Studio Club and Free Desk Here initiative.
Clare Sutcliffe presented her unlikely story of advertising creative turned educator. Setting up Code Club, an after school initiative to help teach kids to code with the help of developers which so far has been doing incredibly well with over 700 Code Clubs set up nationwide in just under 12 months.