We talk to creative pros about what they learned at a recent San Francisco design conference
Design enthusiasts from around the world gathered in San Francisco on Sept. 16 for the 2nd annual Brand New Conference – the logo and identity event hatched from Bryony Gomez-Palacio’s and Armin Vit’s wildly popular Brand New blog. Eager to peek into the brand-making process by industry trailblazers and pocket juicy creative nuggets, the well-turned-out set received an ear- and eye-ful of inspiration from: Vince Frost of Frost Design; Christopher Simmons of MINE™, Paddy Harrington of Bruce Mau, Marina Willer of Wolff Olins, Jonathan Notaro of Brand New School, Claudia Boggio and Alfredo Burga of Infinito, Ben Barry and Everett Katigbak of Facebook, and Matteo Bologna of Mucca Design.
With decades of blood, sweat and branding under their collective creative belts, I was most curious to tap these creative pros on what (if anything) they learned and took away from the event. From insights to highlights, here’s the lowdown on the one-day-only powwow (plus some rockin’ bits of branding wisdom to weave into your own work).
For designer and speaker Paddy Harrington, Armin Vit’s opening design-year-in-review was most memorable. In the same refreshingly honest wit as his blog, the design writer rehashed (for better or worse) a slew of noteworthy identity reveals including Time Warner, the Big Ten, CNN, Comedy Central, Starbucks, JC Penny, and PetCo. “I loved how Armin covered well-known and possibly lesser-known identities. I also loved that he included the My Little Pony redesign,” shares Harrington.
From the Sydney Opera House logo to branding for the Australian-based conductor Ollivier-Philippe Cuneo, first speaker Vince Frost presented an overview of his brilliantly simple and clever design solutions. As a longtime fan, Alfredo Burga particularly latched onto Frost’s idea of heavily involving the client in the design process rather than having a do-not-enter creative zone (as some larger firms might). The clients’ continued input then becomes a key source in uncovering the final solution. Adds Matteo Bologna, “I really connected with what Frost said about zeroing in on the simplest idea and sticking with it.”
Speaker Christopher Simmons, on the other hand, took a decidedly different presentation approach: He walked the design crowd through one focused project — the branding of SF’s Bun Mee eatery (above). From initial client inquiry to proposal and hands-on research (eating lots of Vietnamese sandwiches!), to design and delivery, Simmons openly shared his small firm’s behind-the-scenes techniques. “I liked the way Christopher Simmons convinced his client to work with him. It was very passionate and decided. I think I am going to implement passionate proposals!” Claudia Boggio enthusiastically shared.
Marina Willer’s “mind map” creative process was a favorite of many of the designer/speakers. From chaos to order, she visually illustrated how our influences, ideas, experiences and memories come together and lead to inspiration, relevant concepts and (hopefully) strategy. Plus, her eye-popping and colorful work for Tate Modern at Wolff Olins London was pretty awesome.
Paddy Harrington from Bruce Mau’s Toronto design studio emphasized branding as a storytelling process (above). Adds Burga, “His opening quote, ‘Branding is for cows, stories are for people’, best summarized what the whole conference was about – that what we do is so much more than logos, colors and applications.” As for Christopher Simmons, Harrington’s analytical lens into branding was one of his personal event highlights, “… taking attendees through the history of ‘branding’ and extrapolating some of the future perils that may come from the path we’re on.”
While Jonathan Notaro’s wow-worthy animations and unique approach to running his studio like a design school were noteworthy (think: super-long crit sessions chock-full of analysis), Facebook’s Ben Barry and Everett Katigbak surprised the crowd with the company’s decidedly un-corporate culture and inspirational designs. As one of the world’s largest brands, Facebook’s unofficial motto “Move Fast and Break Things” summed up their risk-taking design philosophy. Adds Willer, “It was great to get an insider’s view of the culture. They also showed some beautiful films to help shift perception of Facebook, from just fun – to meaningful and useful.”
Heavily influenced by their native origins, Claudia Boggio’s and Alfredo Burga’s drool-worthy branding and environmental graphics at Infinito made you want to hop a plane ASAP and head to Lima, Peru, for a zap of inspiration. Paddy Harrington’s takeaway, “There’s a lot to draw on from where you come from and if you know how to get inspired by it – it can lead to beautiful things. Infinito’s work is a clear example of that.”
Closing the show with a bang, Matteo Bologna of Mucca Design talked typography and won over the crowd with his awesome facial hair, amazing work, poignant one-liners, designy jokes and delicious sense of humor, “Q: what’s the deal with your mustache?” Bologna: “I like surrealism.” Adds Willer, “It was a real pleasure to meet Matteo Bologna – you could easily mistake him for a lunatic if the work wasn’t so amazing and considered. And his thinking on how typefaces speak even when they’re not saying anything is so relevant to the making of a brand’s voice.”
And what was the designer-cum-comedian’s biggest lesson of the day? “I realized that all the other speakers whom I’ve always admired, and often idolized, have taken the same shit that I do. That helps me sleep at night,” jokingly says Bologna.
To snag a firsthand glimpse of the Brand New Conference, the speaker videos are now available for download.
More Related Stories
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- My miscarriages made me question being pro-choice
- Why I tried to be a punk
- I'm terrified of the cicada onslaught
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- SAT's right answers are all wrong
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Father of gay high school student arrested for dating classmate speaks out
- Conservatives A-OK with closeted Boy Scouts
- Horrifying new trend: Posting rapes to Facebook
- Corporate greed is poisoning America -- literally
- The new geography of poverty
- Childhood ADHD linked to obesity in adulthood
- Obama to all-male university graduates: Be the best husband to "your boyfriend or partner"
- Chicago man breaks world record with 48-hour Ferris wheel ride
- I will never be able to afford Angelina Jolie's mastectomy
- GOP attorney general candidate tried to force women to report miscarriages to police
- Stephen Colbert to UVA: "You must always make the path for yourself"
- GOP actually bullies an anti-bullying bill
- Georgian police slow to react to mob violence at gay rights march
- 1 killed in Oklahoma tornado
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11
Salon is proud to feature content from Imprint, the fastest-growing design community on the web. Brought to you by Print magazine, America's oldest and most trusted design voice, Imprint features some of the biggest names in the industry covering visual culture from every angle. Imprint
advances and expands the design conversation, providing fresh daily content to the community (and now to salon.com!), sparking conversation, competition, criticism, and passion among its members.