Anti Design Festival

This is a unique moment in time. An amazing opportunity is being given to us. We are at the crossroads of new possibilities with key decisions to be made. Never before have so many public services been attacked simultaneously. Never before have our cultural activities been so undersupported.

People are getting restive for change in design in the new era of political, social and economic thinking. The slick, safe corporate approach is no longer cutting it for some of the sharpest minds and they are looking to return to the edgy uncertainty that underpins some of the greatest creative outcomes.

Earlier this year, Fray founder Simon Waterfall urged creatives to put themselves ’at risk’ as they regroup post-recession. ’Just get out there and do it,’ he counsels, without fear of the consequences. Interaction designer Simon ’Sanky’ Sankarayya, meanwhile, took over the D&AD presidency this week with the aim of broadening out an organisation that has been perceived to be a bit elitist and ad-based into a more caring, helpful force in the creative industries. He believes in doing things that help people rather than just for the glory of it.

Over at the Royal Society of Arts, design director Emily Campbell is spearheading a campaign to debate and address design in its widest sense, including co-creation, and its role in effecting social change. The Design Council is likewise tackling big, seemingly unfathomable issues like climate change through design. And then there is the generation of students bent on making a real difference on the global stage, not necessarily through designing artefacts, but by challenging public perception and changing systems rather than merely boosting lifestyles.

Add to this the motivation behind Neville Brody’s Anti Design Festival and the impressive array of creative ’names’ he has assembled in the process and you see a major move to challenge the status quo. Brody is looking to encourage designers to put themselves out there, explore the boundaries of creativity and be prepared to fail in the bid to make things better.

As Brody says, as a nation we have subscribed to the Thatcherite doctrine of success at all costs for decades. But that world is crumbling around us and a new order emerging. Fortunately for the creative community, the focus is shifting not just to design and innovation as a way of moving forward, but to digital technologies and a world where experimentation is key.

It is okay to fail again as long as we learn by that failure and harness the outcomes to make the end-result better than it might otherwise have been. It’s a question of attitude.

Click here to view the supplement.

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