4 Designers trip | 22 – 24th February

The 4 Designers conference has definitely been one of the highlights of the course so far. Taking the trip down to London and listening to the designers talk was not only fun but also very inspirational. I didn’t manage to take any good pictures of the conference so I will just have to reference what happened with the use of intellectual descriptive techniques, so basically just words.

The 3 hour bus journey was taken up mostly by sleep and Reddit so it wasn’t too bad, plus it’s always fun driving into London. When we got to the hostel called The Generator, I was blown away by how trendy the place was. It was almost like it was built for artists and designers, and I think you were required to own at least one piece of vintage retro clothing to get in. It had a piano, which anyone could play, and half of a bus built into the wall because why the hell not? I was in a room with 10 other guys and the rooms were surprisingly nice. The first evening was spend chilling in the bar, which was full of international students from all around the world.

So onto the conference. The next morning we took a 10 minute walk to where it was being held, which was at the UCL Institute of Education campus. The building was terrifying, grey, square and looked like a Bond villain’s headquarters. Although it was quite nice on the inside. I hadn’t really researched any of the designers before hand so I had no idea what to expect.

The first two designers were Alan Dye, who is the creative director and co-founder of NB Studios, and Dave Palmer, the owner and creative director of LOVE. Both of them spoke very well and clearly about there experiences before founding their own studios, and gave a lot of insight on the industry and what its like to climb your way up the ladder. They have both done work with a huge range of clients, like Adidas and Virgin. It was so incredibly useful to hear their thoughts and advice on the design industry, as they had both had so much experience in it. Definitely inspired me to keep on going with design, even if I don’t make it straight away.

The second two designers were quite individual so I will talk about them separately. The first one to kick off the afternoon was Bruno Maag, a Swiss type designer who founded the design studio and type foundry Dalton Maag. This guy was a real character, and had a very dynamic and engaging way of presenting. He spoke a lot about the journey it took him to get where he was now, and the people and places that he worked at. He also said that Helvetica was a boring font that is given too much praise, therefore I have decided to stop using it. It was interesting to hear about how type is made and why it is so important, but at the same time incredibly difficult and complicated.

The last designer to talk was Phil Carter, the creative director for Carter Wong Design. He was different than most of the other designers as he was far more art focused than the other 3. He didn’t even use a computer for his design work, and took a much more traditional approach to design and also to life. He always carried a sketchbook with him and drew pretty much anything of interest. He also took a lot of photos with his phone, which he then used for reference in some of his work, which seemed like a good habit to get into.

The day after the conference we got to choose a design studio to go too, we were supposed to read up on them before hand so it would be easier to decide but I may have forgotten to do that. With my intelligent and perceptive mind, I decided to go for the one called Mr. President because it sounded the coolest. Arriving at the super cool studios based in the center of London, I realised how much I would love to work in London. We were introduced, by the main 4 graphic designers, with a really nice presentation on what they do there and some example sof work they had done. They also told us about where they went to University and what jobs they had before they joined Mr. President, which was again very insightful. The studio visit was loads of fun and we also got to see the main floor. The studio definitely inspired some more, as the work environment and possibilities you would get if you worked in a place like this was incredibly good.

The 4 Designers conference and studio visit definitely made me want to eventually work in London even more. Or just any good design agency that would really challenge me and make me work to the best of my ability. It will be hard work but i’m hopeful that my time at Cardiff Met will help me to become a better and more understanding designer with a wide range of skills and techniques. The trip really has been one of the best things about this course so far and I hope we go on more like that in the future.

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