OFFF 2015: Is there a formula for good design?

Is there a formula for good design? That’s one of the questions to emerge so far from OFFF 2015, Barcelona’s annual three-day creativity fiesta held in the impressive Museu del Disseny building. This year, it’s OFFF’s 15th anniversary – and to celebrate the crew have invited their biggest list of speakers yet. Stefan Sagmeister, Chuck Anderson, GMUNK, Gemma Anderson are just some of a 51-strong army of industry-leading creatives set to take to the stage during the event.

For designer Rick Banks – who most directly referenced the issue earlier today – the answer is yes. Banks told the audience that for him, good design is the sum of inspiration plus a great idea (or “twist”) and hard work.

He’s not the only one. New York-based design agency Hush talked about the scientific process of design, while Johannes Conrad and Michelle Phillips – the creative brains behind Berlin-based design studio Yukiko – told the OFFF audience that their mantra is built around the concept of limitations.

“We’ve learned to recognise and embrace limitations,” they said. “You can turn your tight budgets, briefs and deadlines into lateral thinking, creative freedom and energy.”

Particularly inspiring was Barcelona-based graphic designer and visual artist Mau Morgo. One of the most exciting creatives emerging from the Spanish design scene, Morgo’s work is dark, mysterious and ambitious, fusing new tools with experimental techniques to fascinating effect.

Morgo specialises in using his client projects to push creative boundaries. “A perfect example was with my Laus project. I promised the client over the phone I could 3D-scan real people, turn them into gold and implement them into real photographs,” he recalled.

“I promised the client over the phone I could 3D-scan real people, turn them into gold and implement them into real photographs”

“I had no idea how, but there are tons of tutorials explaining you how to do it with a Kinect, so I convinced myself I could. Once they approved the project I researched and found a 3D scanner that could work, bought it online and started learning through the internet”

It all ties in with Adobe’s keynote, yesterday. “It’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen,” pointed out Adobe evangelist Michael Chaize – and that’s exactly what every single speaker here at OFFF has in common. Making, doing, learning from failure: these have long been themes running through the festival, but this year, with more speakers than ever before, the message has never been stronger.

“If you’re a dreamer, find a doer. If you’re a doer, find a dreamer,” advised Chaize. It’s all about making the most of that moment when inspiration strikes – which is where Adobe’s focus on mobile creativity really comes into play. Designers and artists have never been more connected, or had more tools to create, wherever and whenever they want.

To demonstrate the point, a selection of the company’s mobile apps – including Adobe Brush CC, Shape CC and Color CC – are being showcased throughout the conference. All day, delegates can interact with the apps at the Adobe booth, while a number of professional illustrators are on hand to show exactly how a workflow can be improved with Adobe’s mobile creative apps.

So is there a formula for good design? It remains to be seen. But the creativity and positivity exuding from the OFFF venue is impossible to miss. As Morgo told the audience earlier today: “You have to take risks and fail. You will learn a lot.”

About Julia Sagar

Julia is a Commissioning Editor for Creative Bloq, Computer Arts, net, IFX and 3D World magazines. Previously deputy editor of Computer Arts, she edited many of the brand’s supplement publications – including the popular Computer Arts Presents series and more recent Annuals – and has been writing about design for almost a decade.