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A day at D(isrupt)M Conference

On Friday 18th October, a few members of the Dawn team headed over to Bridgewater Hall, seeking further enlightenment into the world of design. Design Manchester‘s ever growing annual conference provides a platform for  influential speakers to talk about their work, process and thoughts on the design world and our sphere of influence.

D(isrupt)M Conference

We were treated to some incredible speakers including Ben Wright, Liza Enebis, Anthony Burrill and Michael Wolff. The event, hosted by Creative Review‘s Patrick Burgoyne, hosted a wide range of talks and there was something for every type of creative. It was easy to see why the conference is expanding and becoming more popular year on year.

The first talk of the day was from typographer and graphic design Anthony Burrill, a well known name in the design industry, famous for his piece “work hard and be nice to people”. He spoke about his life in design and where his most popular projects originated from. He was a brilliantly entertaining speaker, interjecting his talk with quips and humorous imagery. Anthony has been involved in a wide range of hard hitting projects, ranging from oil spills to gun crime. He also showed off his idyllic office in the countryside which we weren’t jealous of in the slightest!

D(isrupt)M Speaker

credit @danielacorn

Next onto the stage was Kate Dawkins. A designer who works in animation and motion graphics. She’s produced some incredible stage and video work for a range of huge musical acts and created lighting and motion graphics for the mind blowing London 2012 Olympic Games opening and closing ceremony.

Whether it be in awe, shock or amazement it was clear she was able to craft some truly unforgettable work. The part that stood out to us the most was the Passchendaele Centenary projection. This was cast on to St Martin’s Cathedral in the market square of Ypres to commemorate the terrible battle that took place in World War 1. Her work was deeply moving and stunningly beautiful, really proving how design can bring people together in a single moment and provide life changing experiences.

You can watch the ceremony here, make sure you have your tissues at the ready.

Passchendaele Centenary

credit BBC

Everyone was invited to take a short break and we visited some of the stalls setup in the concourse. Uniform Agency built a stand about the ‘Future Design Agency‘ using AR technology to show different rooms. It was a really interesting take on where the future of design could be taken. Will we will be able to view and analyse our dreams in the near future?!

We returned into the main hall to take in two more talks before lunch. First up was Kaye Dunnings, Creative Director of Shangri-La at Glastonbury Festival. Shangri-La is part of the festival which operates inside of Glastonbury and uses installations, performance art and music to create a fully immersive new world for festival-goers to explore.

The theme changes each year and focuses on different political issues such as the environment and the media. She is clearly passionate about changing the world for the better and these ideas help to make Shangri-La more successful year on year. Shangri-La is definitely worth checking out at Glastonbury if you were one of the lucky few to get a ticket this year!


credit simon westgate

Next on the stage was Ben Wright, the Co-Founder of Design Studio. Design Studio is into its tenth year, and now operates in London, Sydney and San Fransisco. They can list clients such as Airbnb, Deliveroo and the Premier League. As a brand-led agency, it was fascinating to get an insight into how their studio works and the principles they’re built upon. It was great to see how much the agency cares for the client and the effort Design Studio go to to make sure their client feels welcome and part of the project. Their process and principles really resonated with us and we found ourselves nodding to Ben’s talk the whole way through!

Their pitch to win the Airbnb rebrand is a great example of going the extra mile. They made part of their own office into an Airbnb listing, complete with a bed, a dining set and some comfy chairs so that they knew what it felt like to feel at home in an Airbnb. The founders of Airbnb were so impressed they had decided before the pitch had even started that Design Studio were their perfect match. The process the studio then set upon to immerse themselves in the brand before commencing design work was superb, and it’s re-assuring the know the best in the business are doing things the right way.

It goes to show how really trying to understand the key essence and point of difference of a business can help create strong and long lasting relationships between a studio and their client. Something we always aim to do here at Dawn.

D(isrupt)M Speaker

credit @danielalcorn

After stuffing ourselves at Wagamama (other restaurants are available) during lunch, we returned to the Hall to  listen to Michael Wolff (Co-founder of Wolff Ollins) and Madelina kay (#EUSupergirl) discussing Brexit and how the design and social media played such a massive role within the pre and post vote process. Some fascinating points were made regarding the Remain campaign and its weaknesses. Everything from the slogan, to the colours and the logo were completely unmemorable.

The talk demonstrated how design can be such a huge influence on every day life. Strong call to actions can be the simple key to success. It was felt that even word ‘remain’ didn’t make you feel empowered or want to get out and vote. Vote Leave, along with their powerful slogans (whether factually correct or not), had a demonstrably stronger campaign and this probably influenced many voters to swing their way.

D(isrupt)M Speakers

credit @designmcr

Following this was Liza Enebis, Co Founder of Studio Dumbar, a branding agency based in Rotterdam. She showcased some of their amazing work for companies such as the Dutch National Police, Amsterdam Sinfonietta and VBMS.

The project that really stood out to us was the work they had done for Amsterdam Sinfonietta. Dumbar have worked with this client for many years and recently refreshed their approach to their poster series using AI generated sequences that react to the sound of the music. The studio’s use of typography, process and original thinking were all hugely impressive.

Amsterdam Sinfonietta

credit @studiodumbar

It was a fantastic day overall, and we owe a big thanks to all the organisers. The conference really highlighted the ability of design to make a massive difference to the world. We came away knowing we have responsibility as designers to empower ourselves and make genuinely positive changes a possibility.

If you’re looking for some inspiration to ignite your business, why not get in touch with us at Dawn and see what we can do for you.

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