Just over 2 weeks ago 5 of us from Leap were based in Barcelona for 3 days, at the Museu Del Disseny for a first of our kind of team away time to learn, be inspired, inspire, share, design, well everything including cocktails, bonding in bars with some lovely Spanish engineers and a lot of walking! Walking anywhere is good to get the vibe, look up, down, around but see the place you are in, really soak it up and try different routes each day. Over 70 talks — we didn’t make them all like any good festival there will always be clashes or a full capacity room with a one in, one out policy. But we made sure we were saturated with all OFFFest had to offer.
OFFF takes place in Barcelona annually, while it tours the world as OFFF on Tour for the rest of the year. It’s in London this year and I’d recommend going, you won’t be disappointed.
To reflect on our adventure, each member of Leap has written about their personal experience of OFFF.
We’ve also put together a short film which you can watch below.
I found many of the speakers at Offf really inspiring— I definitely learned loads from the short talks and have come away even more excited about what’s possible with good design.
I’ve chosen to write about Ivan Cash’s talk because it made me realize just how much of an impact design can have on the world. This was actually one of the talks we didn’t plan to see, so it’s lucky that we were sat on the steps in the sun while it was being streamed on the big screen. Ivan’s talk was largely based around his most successful worldwide movements and the different motives, stories and processes behind them. In particular the “Occupy George” project really inspired me, he created designs to fit around dollar bills, showing charts and diagrams of the disproportionate wealth in the U.S. He then manufactured stamps and encouraged people to stamp the designs on their money as a form of protest.
Ivan’s work celebrates human connection and inspires cultural movements on a global scale. This is similar to what we’re doing at Leap: designing for change and aiming to make a real difference through design.
I feel that Barcelona has really rejuvenated my creativity and the enjoyment for jobs that I may not have felt as enthusiastic about previously as I might not have felt I had the right mind for the job or even felt the job was out of my comfort zone. I feel that I have learnt that you should always try and explore your ideas and whether it worked or not you can feel confident in the fact that you tried it, as well as that I shouldn’t dwell on mistakes as much but rather take them in stride and hopefully learn from them for the next time.
Talks that I feel really inspired this were people like Annie Atkins, GFDA and Adam Kurtz. GFDA managing to find almost instant success after creating a basic website after a 10 minute brainstorm over a coffee and Adam starting with jobs at places like BuzzFeed before becoming self-employed and selling a range of products including books through successful social media interaction. All of these speakers I felt particularly inspired by.
When I was asked to write about OFFF my initial intention was to review and respond to a certain seminar or talker. Instead I felt it would be best to give a more general overview of the experience.
As we all know sitting at your desk, turning through projects, not matter how brilliant, start to become white noise in a mental bubble of your own making. The bubble may be creative and your process may be second to none but from contentment comes mediocrity. It’s for these reasons events like OFFF exist in my mind. It’s one thing to head outside for a walk to clear the mind and focus thoughts but it’s another experience entirely to travel with the entire team 1166 miles to Barcelona to remind yourself that being a creative is not a remote and solo existence but we’re part of something much larger. To be reminded first hand that your part of a much larger community spanning languages and continents is a humbling experience. A constant 3 day symposium of inspiration is a sure fire way to break the “go to” processes we find ourselves relying on and blow the dust off of those goals and achievements we all strive for yet routinely forget in the usual day to day grind.
It takes something unordinary to remind you that the jobs we do are a gift, hard work yes but a gift all the same. Our skills are tools to that allows us to travel to other countries to chat with others and realize we are in a position to make real changes to people’s lives and shape the world in a positive way. Without getting overly emotive and melancholic there’s times in life in which you’re forced to reflect and contemplate how the situation you’ve found yourself in has happened. For me standing on top of a hillside looking down on Barcelona thinking about my year 8 CV I have next to my desk back in the studio with “designer” as a life goal was a great moment of realization. It’s in reflections like that which light the fires for me as a designer. OFFF was a reset button, a method for me to take a step back, breath, learn, and remind myself that I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do and to strive even harder to take risks, be unordinary and the designer 11 year old me wanted to be.