The inaugural Edge conference, organised by the Design Business Association, took place at Circus Space in London’s East End. The event saw delegates invited to take part in circus-skills classes including trapeze-flying and stilt-walking as part of its risk theme.
During her presentation, Greenfield informed the audience that creativity often occurs in people with impaired or lower cognitive functioning. She cited children, dementia-sufferers, schizophrenics and people on drugs as showing heightened creativity.
During a panel discussion about the nature of success, the typographer Spiekermann and photographer Toscani clashed over the design and the applied arts business. Toscani objected to the use of the word ‘client’ and to implications that designers take risks.
‘We don’t work down mines – we are a bunch of privileged people who decided to be designers,’ said Toscani.
Wolff raised the point that designers can risk ‘other peoples’ money’, while Spiekermann added that he feels responsible for paying his staff’s wages every month.
Said Spiekermann, ‘You occasionally worry that no one will come to your door to offer you work ever again’, to which Toscani replied, ‘If you don’t have enough clients it is because you are not good enough.’
Richard Seymour of Seymour Powell closed the conference, recommending that designers ‘break out’ of presenting with laptops and Powerpoint, and return to drawing and painting.
He said, ‘I presented a large-scale watercolour of a dashboard to Ford and the client asked me what “cool software” I had used to do it. He was amazed and impressed when I told him I had done it by hand. It makes people realise that there is no button marked “design” on a computer keyboard.’
Seymour also recommended that designers ignore research and instead video people using products or services.
He said, ‘At least three quarters of my job is trying to find the truth in a brief. If I can really work out what the problem is, the solution designs itself. Don’t base your design on expensive and poorly executed research – watch the person instead.’