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The Brisbane Design Conference 2019

by Isaac Joekong, Jul 08, 2019

It was a bright and sunny Thursday morning at the Brisbane Powerhouse. The sound of hundreds of eager creative minds chattering away resonated across the theatre room, as the audience waited in anticipation for their larger than life host and organiser, Matthew Haynes, to appear on stage.

“Do you think it will be as good as last year?”

“Three days? How are they going to keep the hype going for three days?”

The lights dim and the audience grows silent as a video begins to play. Music blasts through the theatre. The surreal introduction video has every pair of eyes in the room glued to the screen. Creative ideas and concepts never shared publicly before entrance viewers. As the video fades out, the audience erupts with applause, and Matt arrives on stage, grinning. Welcome to the 2019 Brisbane Design Conference #TDCBNE19.

This June, the Codebots Design team made their way to TDCBNE19 with enthusiasm, for the third year in a row. The conference invites creatives from all professions, all around the world, to congregate in Brisbane and share experiences, ideas, and inspiration.
Each year brings a new wave of inspiration, positive energy and motivation. Our experiences at TDCBNE shape our mindsets, and many of the methods we have developed for our brand, our Way of Working and our business.

Many of our mindsets and methodologies have come out of our experiences at TDCBNE over the years and gone into our Way of Working. This year’s key messages can be summarized as:

Champion the users

Look after your mental health

Be playful

TDC highlights and key themes

Day one

We started the first day with an inspirational workshop hosted by Sophia Mary Mac, a Brisbane based illustrator and UX designer. Sophia spoke about being comfortable being uncomfortable, and how your best moments happen outside your comfort zone.

People’s Choice Award winner, author and artist from New York, Adam J. Kurtz had us laughing our heads off as he described us all “massive tools”. Essentially, he told us that we have everything we need to get ourselves out there.
Wolff Olins Managing Director Amanda Munilla encouraged everyone to design, because we are all creatives consistently doing creative things.

Tea Uglow from Google Creative labs gave us insight into the hidden world of a pure innovation team.

The day wrapped up with Martina Martian sharing her artist journey, and an improved mindscape session with Mills from UsTwo, a digital production studio we’ve been admiring at a distance for years.

Day two

Our second day began with the whirlwind that is Chris Do, the CEO and Chief Strategist for Blind and Futur, who dazzled us all with his creative business mind.
Kelly Anna, an artist from London, told us why we should be stupidly confident in ourselves.

Josephmark, another Brisbane-based design agency, shared why they have eliminated clients altogether, and decided to invest in their own ideas.

Sarah Sampsel from Work&Co talked about the relationship between rapid growth and consistently releasing delicious products.

Day two wrapped up with James ‘Yeah’ Brown, who enticed us down his rabbit hole of a ‘Art-ichtect’ and ‘Garphic’ designer lifestyle

Day three

Day three had us diving into truth with Re's creative director Shannon Bell, who spoke to finding business truths and building on them.
Sydney’s Design Studio’s James Gilmore is a big player in the international design scene, and shared the reality of starting a new studio in a new country.

Kenjiro Kirton encouraged us to ‘play’ as part of our creative process.

Mercedes Bazan, an Argentinian artist, told of mental health struggles and working in a foreign land.

The conference closed with Snask, a film agency in Sweden, with an ethos of not needing permission to have fun. Snask credit themselves on their rock star designers, and being one of the top places to work in the world.

What we learned

The importance of building for the user has never been more important. Anyone can start a business or build an app now, competition is inevitable. People make choices based on products and services they connect with, and that connect with them. To gain your competitive edge, you need to listen to your users and make something you know they will love.

Mental health and burn outs were key areas of burden for creatives in all industries. Creatives are naturally passionate and devoted to people. We love art and connecting with our audiences. Sometimes we care too deeply about what people think of what we produce, and we forget about our own wellbeing. In creative roles, and really all areas of work in the modern world, we need to take charge of our own needs so we can continue to create awesome things.

Playfulness was a commonly shared trait among successful companies. There are times for knuckling down, but the best teams support each other’s wacky ideas, experiment on their curiousities, and play. That’s why one of our four values is “Fun, but not unprofessional.”

Until next year, TDCBNE.

Matthew Haynes and the entire crew from Analogue Digital deserve all the praise for hosting a consistently phenomenal experience. The Design Conference is a love letter to the community of artists and designers in Brisbane, a chance for us to hear and learn from those who have excelled both locally and internationally. May we continue to be inspired. May we continue to be creative. May we continue to be hungry.

Let’s see what new levels we can reach.