Exchange of ideas lead to healthy opportunities

You have to credit British Design & Art Direction for its education programme, appealing to ‘students’ of all ages through various initiatives.

You have to credit British Design & Art Direction for its education programme, appealing to ‘students’ of all ages through various initiatives. But one of its most valuable contributions to creativity is its Xchange programme, a three-day event meant to inspire college tutors and course leaders.

Bringing together people who help shape the creative industries’ future is recommendation enough for the event. But the quality and content of the various talks is also admirable.

I had the great privilege of chairing a couple of sessions this year, and though the topics were quite different a couple of themes recurred.

For example, David Abraham, general manager of digital TV company Discovery Networks Europe, highlighted the developing thirst for knowledge among UK viewers. He also explained that, with a typical audience of 40-something men for, say, history, Discovery had introduced a health channel to attract more women.

The twist came when Orange head of brand futures Paul Phillips stood up to share the mobile phone network’s forecasting for services it believes its customers would like to access through their phones. And there, displayed on the screen, were learning and health.

You could say there was a link with the Innocent philosophy, described by its brand guardian Dan Germain. The fruit drinks are all about health, and the quirky copy on the packs certainly hints at learning. That might just be pushing it, but health and learning are certainly areas worth exploring for consultancies looking for new sources of work.

Design festival put into action

Talking of conferences, the World Creative Congress appears to be taking off, with over 400 delegates now signed up for the event conceived as the centrepiece of the London Design Festival. And it appears that John Sorrell’s vision for the congress is starting to be realised, with about a quarter of the delegates coming from outside the UK.

Sorrell is looking for some interesting debates, given an illustrious audience that includes the dean of Harvard Business School and government representatives from across the world, as well as a line-up of eminent speakers. But it would be great to see some action too.

SuperHumanism, organised by D&AD in 2001, failed in its mission to create a manifesto for the creative industries through interaction between speakers and audience. There wasn’t even much debate. Perhaps the congress team should elicit a few action points from its audience to keep it alive beyond its allotted three days.

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