The OFFF spirit and the new creative generation

OFFF’s fresh and alternative spirit is the reason so many people attend each year and will continue doing so in 2016.

Photo credits: Fluoro Digital

OFFF festival celebrated its 15th birthday in Barcelona a couple weeks ago and I had the chance to join the agency Vasava on stage as they introduced OFFF UNMASKED, a limited edition book created for the event showcasing the origins of the festival. OFFF is the largest meeting of European creative minds and for three days talented individuals took the stage in front of 4,000 designers, all craving inspiration.

OFFF is not just an event

OFFF is first and foremost a state of mind. I was chatting about this with one of the festival’s icons, Joshua Davis – he’s never missed an OFFF event! He confessed that he felt a special state of mind when he first attended 15 years ago and still feels that today.

Joining me at OFFF was a handful of the best designers from across Europe, calling from France, Germany, Finland, Belgium and the Netherlands. The vast majority of them were discovering OFFF and its unique state of mind for the very first time – Bram Vanhaeren compared OFFF to “a large playground by creatives for creatives”. Geoffrey Dorne described it as a mix of “WTF, OMG, FTW, GG, wOOT and design”. This unconventional description reflects OFFF’s young and trendy audience and speakers, varying from internationally established designers like Stefan Sagmeister (who was brilliant this year again) to up and coming talents. Like Cannes for cinema, OFFF has always been there to notice the creatives of tomorrow.

The spirit of OFFF can be first felt on the stage during one of the hour-long presentations, running from 10AM to 9PM. Design and photography lovers were at the heart of each presentation – GMUNK’s work, Stefan Sagmeister’s philosophy about ‘the beautiful’, Superdog’s views on production quality, the youthful energy of Atelier, Vasava’s genius, Joshua Davis’ energy or Jon Burgerman’s craziness blew everyone’s mind. OFFF’s spirit also has a special kind of energy across the festival: in the corridors, in front of food trucks on the main square, at the tattoo booth or while trying Cool Shit’s clothes.

Unlike previous years, it’s harder to spot big trends in the showcased projects. Monica Javanainen emphasized the return of traditional techniques, mobile use and the tiny part of mysticism which can be found in a majority of pieces. Surprised by the amount of projects driven by teams, Pierre Starkloff and Johannes Eich discussed how new creatives have to learn to collaborate to make ambitious projects a reality.

Save the date

OFFF is a true source of inspiration and fills you with energy for the year ahead – you can join us (and the sunshine!) next year from the 26th to the 28th of May. Bram Vanhaeren shared his final thoughts, commenting on how easy it was to chat with all of the speakers as “OFFF is, first and foremost, a place to meet other creatives – Behance is a huge community of creatives but sometimes it’s better to meet in person”. OFFF’s fresh and alternative spirit is the reason so many people attend each year and will continue doing so in 2016.

What about you – have you ever attended OFFF? What do you think of the festival? Would you like to see it for yourself next year? Tell us in the comments below.