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Last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I attended three days of design conferences as part of KLDW2010.

The three conference days consisted of:

  1. Typo-graphics
  2. Creative Magazine Symposium
  3. Ani/Motion

With many more design-related exhibitions running throughout KL (One of which I still need to attend tonight!).

I won’t give you a blow-by-blow ‘cos that’d be boring. And, if you did want a blow-by-blow, you should’ve been there yourself. No, what I’ll give you is a brief overview of what I thought of the conferences as a whole.

Overall?

I’d give the conferences a 7/10. I’ve never been to a bunch of conferences stuck together like this before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I was a little let down with the organisation — we ran late on all three days — but I understand this is what conferences are like. I’m not saying it’d be easy to organise either, especially for a city that only beginning to put itself on the map as a hub of design.

So, my overall thoughts are the speakers were very good, the organisation was ok, the rule of no food or drink in the room were balls-face. ^ hours a day in a room, and you can’t bring in some water?! WTF, mate? I did, as did a few others.

Speakers

The host Graham Perkins (Twitter link) was good, providing entertaining discussion between speakers, as well as an impromptu hour-long presentation on the third day when a pair of Japanese presenters couldn’t make it. His work on Hail The Villain‘s film clip, and indeed on the concept of their 360º campaign, was pretty rad.

Other speaker highlights for me were:

Feng Zhu — A digital matte artist, and conceptual artist for such Hollywood productions as the latest Star Wars films, Transformers, and TMNT, as well as many A-level game productions. His talk was informative, and inspirational, which is exactly what you want from a speaker. It’s a shame he was on last on the third day, as I’m sure everyone would’ve loved to hear him talk more on his work and the industry in general. Unfortunately we were running over an hour late at this pint, so Mr. Zhu wasn’t able to participate in the round-table discussion at the end of the day.

Reza Abedini — A persian graphic designer and typographer. I w=have always been a fan of Mr. Abedini’s work even though I did not understand the language. It’s visually striking and bold. See some examples here.

I was very pleased to hear mr. Abedini talk about not only his craft, but also the history of Persian calligraphy, and the controversies surrounding the new wave of typographers in that part of the world. There’s evidently so much thought and mastery put into traditional Persian calligraphy, that there are still people professionally practising calligraphy to such an extent and expertise, that people see the words written by these masters almost as prayers in themselves.

Mr. Abedini also talked about the difference between ‘global and ‘international’ style of typography, and design taste, echoing sentiments I have exactly. Global being the loss or reduction of individual identity and culture, and international meaning culture acknowledged on a global stage, but retaining it’s individuality. This was a common discussion point throughout the three days.

Me & Mister Jones — A husband and wife team from Belgium. Their work was inspiring — especially the corporate stuff — with some great ideas and results.

Douglas Young — Founder of GOD (Goods of Desire) design stores in Hong Kong. His work with major brands to produce products and clothing with some humour and cheekiness really resonated with me. At first, I thought he would be presenting an hour-long advertisement for his stores, but that feeling was quickly replaced with enthusiasm for GOD’s work practices and overall light-heartedness. This talk was a surprise for me actually, I’m really glad I enjoyed it as much as I did. I wish I could read Chinese though, as many of the in-jokes were local. Must’ve been funny, ‘cos many were laughing.

Hideki Inaba — A Japanese typographer and artist. Like most Japanese, Mr. Inaba was humble and passionate about his work. He was quiet when he spoke (in Japanese with the aide of a translator) but he went quite deeply into his work. I get that a lot from Japanese artists and designers: they truly believe in what they are doing.

Patrick Burgoyne — An editor for Creative Review magazine. Mr. Burgoyne talked about the approaches of CR magazine, how their very English point-of-view was not a negative thing in the day and age of global design culture. He talked about the transition, or co-existence rather, of online vs print magazines. It was very informative and honest.

Andrew Byrom — A ‘typographer’ who constructs typefaces in three dimensions. This was another talk I thought would not be interesting — I mean, it’s a guy, who makes ‘type’ out of things — but while I didn’t particularly find his end results too inspiring, his thought process and the industrial designer approach was something I could relate to. Sitting and drawing for hours to not only make something work in 3D, but make it strong and balanced enough so it could stand on it’s own resonated with me. A very informative presentation on the inner-workings of a designer.

There were many other speakers which I enjoyed, but there were also a few who more or less just showcased their work. The work itself was very impressive (and in one case even exhausting) but I can look at these people’s work online in my own time. What I wanted out of them was why and how they approached something.

New contacts

I was the only Aussie in the room of about 200. On all three days. I knew this because after doing a whip around the room to acknowledge the Malaysian, Chinese, Singaporean, and even (a large and boisterous group of) Lebanese (women, one of which had the most fantastic eyes not seen in this photo [girl on the left]) the question was asked “Are there any other nationalities in the room?”. Of course, I stuck two sets of metal-horns in the air and yelled “Australian!” (I thin I may have also said “raaaawwwwk”, but I can’t be sure).

I think this incident helped me to meet some people. I made a few friends at KLDW, some dudes from DDB and The Distillery (M&C Saatchi), as well as Izu, the president of A&DAM, (Art & Design Alliance Malaysia). All nice people. In fact Izu welcomed me to Malaysia, telling me I’m now considered a Malaysian Designer. Neat. We talked for a while after the last day and I’m confident I’ll be involved in some local design events and exhibitions in the near future.

What next?

Well, I’m going to Poland for three weeks, leaving in just under five hours…

Really?

Yep. For a wedding. And a holiday.

But aren’t you kind of on a holiday now?

Well, not really. I’ve been working quite a bit since landing in KL. Working and setting up a life here has taken up much of my/our time. The good news is 90% of the set up have been done now — bank accounts, driver’s licences, internet (well, sort of internet) so when we return I’ll be a bit more focused.

But… what about us?

I realise this blog will be a bit quiet for a few weeks, but if you’ve just tuned in, it’ll be a good chance for you to read back and see what the hell this blog is all about. And if you’ve been with us from the beginning, well, you should probably get out more :P

I’ll no doubt be posting things to Twitter for the next few weeks, so you can (request to) follow me there. If I deem you worthy, I’ll let you in to my private place.

No, not that private place. Jeez…