OFFF to Barcelona

Following our trip to OFFSET in Dublin last year, we decided to try OFFF design festival in Barcelona this year (the two are not connected despite the confusing similarity in names).

Who to see?
With a line-up including Anthony Burrill, Lance Wyman, Annie Atkins and GMUNK (who we discovered at OFFSET last year), we knew there was going to be some incredibly inspiring work shown. However, the programme also had a huge list of designers/illustrators/animators we had never heard of, so the festival is a great way to hear from up-and-coming talents from around the design world (literally – speakers came from Glasgow, Paris, Texas and San Francisco). Taking place in Barcelona, OFFF was also a great opportunity for me to explore a city I had never been to.

Kicking off the first day was Outro Studio, who designed all the printed and animated collateral for the conference, including the flashy programme of speakers. Outro have a really interesting way of showcasing their own work online – they simply put up screen shots of work in progress. Simple but effective.

Paris-based Studio Furious followed, giving us an insight into how they formed as just two work friends who shared a love of food. They started a project called Fat & Furious: every Thursday, they would buy the ingredients to make a burger, cook it and eat it all within their lunch break… Studio Furious was born. Next up, Wasted Rita, better known for her sarcastic illustrations and honest hand lettering.

Day two gave us the opportunity to watch the première of ‘The Happy Film’ by Stefan Sagmeister. Without giving away any spoilers, it isn’t the happiest of movies, but it was incredibly interesting to get an insight into one of the most influential people in the design industry.

An enjoyable informal talk was hosted by Good Fucking Design Advice and DesignStudio, giving us an insight into how they work day to day, what gets them excited and how they manage studio life from both a creative and a managerial point of view.

Annie Atkins, specialist in graphics for filmmaking and best known for her work with ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, blew us away with her approach to a project and impeccable attention to detail (if you ignore the typo on the Mendl’s packaging, which was later picked up by Wes Anderson himself and tweaked in post-production). I found it really interesting hearing about the process of producing graphics for film and TV. Annie explained how she goes through a script picking out all the possible visuals she and the design team might need to create. Depending on the prop required, they create up to 30 identical versions which might only be on screen for a matter of seconds, if that!

Following Annie came James Bull from Moving Brands. James gave us an insight into a studio which has grown, over the last 20 years, into four international studios – in London, Zurich, San Francisco and New York. Their ability to produce pretty much anything thrown at them has to be admired. They are currently working on some life hack products and James himself is developing a high end watch brand, opening up a new market for the company.

Texas-born illustrator Calvin Sprague has produced a whole spectrum of work, including a hell of a lot of band merchandising for artists such as Michael Jackson, The Beatles and Britney Spears. He’s now focusing on his own illustration style, which he has managed to translate into animation through his connections with the music world.

Work hard and be nice to people! Anthony Burrill spoke about his process when it comes to creating limited edition typographic prints. After hearing from lots of incredibly talented ‘digital’ designers, it was great to hear how others are carrying on with the ‘old’ traditional processes, such as letterpress.

Other speakers worth a mention include: Imaginary Forces, Anton & Irene, Gordon Reed, GMUNK and Vallée Duhamel.

The weekend came to an epic end with the design legend that is Lance Wyman. Specialising in systems for cities, events, institutions and transit systems, we all know him via his work on the logo for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. It was great hearing how he used his early experience in industrial design in the world of graphic design. This is very apparent in his map for Washington’s Metro. He still teaches corporate and wayfinding design at Parsons, where he has been a visiting lecturer since 1973. Not bad for an 80-year-old guy!

What I learned
Barcelona, on the whole, is incredible and I had no idea how apparent design was in this city. Everywhere you look, you can see some impressive café branding, graffiti and wayfinding systems. Can’t wait to go back. But more importantly for me at OFFF, what every speaker had in common was the drive to create and explore their own projects, the things that motivate them to create great work, which in a roundabout way is how they get the clients they want to work with. There will always be projects that just pay the bills, but if that project can turn into something more, and get you recognised for all the right reasons, then that’s a bonus.

Go back

Share this post: