June 6, 2010 § Leave a Comment
This entry is (mostly) about the 2010 European Design Conference which was held in Rotterdam from 28 to 30 May. But also a little bit about these
pyjama genie pants that’s all the rage here during summer.
They generally look like this:
I used to think they were funny whenever I saw anyone wearing them in Singapore, because they kinda remind me of pyjamas and were therefore such silly things to be wearing out of the house. But now that the temperature in Lugano is on par with Singapore, everyone everywhere in Europe seems to be donning these flappy pantaloons. (It’s way too hot for jeans and anything with sleeves now.) I bought myself a pair from H&M some weeks back and let me tell you, these things are AMAZINGLY COMFORTABLE. Why don’t people wear them more in Singapore??? (Because they look like pyjama pants, stupid.)
I love wearing them and am so definitely getting a few more pairs for home. They are a nice alternative to berms and shorts (which is all I wear in Singapore, anyway). And also since I never wear jeans in Singapore (unless I’ve been told to). Too hot too hot!
Okay I digress. Back to the conference.
There were 15 speakers in total, so I won’t go through each individually but I’ll talk about the ones that inspired me the most. Then I’ll give my overall thoughts on the conference at the end.
Reza Abedini (Iran/Netherlands)
One of my two favourites from the conference. His work with the study of arabic typography is groundbreaking stuff.
The most memorable quote for me from the conference also came from him. During the Q&A when someone asked him why he didn’t really work with roman typography and whether he would like to work with roman type, his reply was something like this:
‘You Dutch (or Western, something to that effect) people already do it so well, why would I want to compete with you doing something you have already perfected?’
As one of the very few Chinese Asians (I think the grand total was 3) there, this was a line that struck me deeply and will definitely influence my future work. I never stop asking myself the question why the Southeast Asian design scene is still so unestablished and what we can do to help strengthen and mature design culture in our region. It’s a cumulation of factors, definitely, but part of it could be accrued to the fact that we spend so much time trying to copy what the West has already perfected, and the results are often lackluster and pale imitations of work that already exists. Even a really good copy is still, at the end of the day, a copy. I really hope to see a unique brand of Singaporean design emerge in the next couple of decades as we mature and develop our own sense of style and culture and not always have to imitate the work of others. Integrate and assimilate into something we can call our own, yes. But not copy.
Because I really liked their presentation, vibes and sense of humour.
Because they’re good-looking and Swiss.
Okay. More than that. Because I really like their series of posters for Schauspielhaus Zürich and their awesome cardboard boxes installation at the 2000-Watt-Gesellschaft. Better graphics on their site.
Philippe Apeloig (France)
My other favourite and most admired designer from the conference. His work is just so conceptually strong, tight, clean and poignantly brilliant. And his designed typefaces to suit the personality of each piece he’s executing… admirably awesome work. *kowtows* Snapshots below, but a lot of his work is clearer and well presented on his site, so go look at it…
And there was also the grand-daddy of Dutch design, Gert Dumbar of Studio Dumbar. His work was also really amazing… especially the infographic system for disaster/epidemic relief that he’s working on now that he kindly requested we not publish online.
Most of the speakers were good, but I didn’t manage to catch photos of everything so these are just some of the ones I did.
It’s hard for me to describe all that I’ve learned from my 168 euro investment just to attend this conference.
Of the conference itself, I must say as a first experience I was slightly disappointed by the turn-out. I guess in my mind I had expected more, especially after attending the Design Society’s Forum in Singapore in January.
However, it was a great, GREAT learning experience for me, just sitting there taking it all in, listening to the speakers and to the types of questions being thrown about during Q&A. Just from the questions alone the difference between the design scene back home and here is clearly evident. It enlightened me to just how mature and established the Dutch design scene is. I am envious of how fortunate they are to have a very supportive government and private sector, who trust and often give their designers great autonomy in their work. Many crazy and exciting ideas can be done, the government supports experimental work, and the study of graphic design there is seen more as respectable profession than I have ever known it to be back home.
There, graphic design is not diluted by advertising. The two professions are clearly defined and well separated. Back home we tend to equate one to another, which was a great cause of my growing disillusion with my craft. (I already don’t believe in advertising, but I was starting to despair about design.)
However, after this entire trip, wandering Amsterdam and Rotterdam and laying my eyes upon beautiful works of design, my strength is renewed. I again begin to believe that good design can and will, change the world. It’s difficult to expound on, but some of my closer friends have heard me try to explain, and I hope they see at least a little of how I’ve seen it. Everything I have learned is firmly in my head, the vision burning behind my eyes, and the cause firmly planted in my heart.
I have learned so much about myself and my craft this trip, and not just this trip, but this entire experience in Europe for the past few months. Coming to Europe has definitely been the greatest turning-point in my life yet. It has built the foundations for my future, directions for where I want to go as a person, as a designer and as a believer in how the role of design is to communicate.
Initially I really felt as though I was wasting my time here. I like Lugano, and USI, but doing PR and marketing courses are really not my life’s passion. Here I was in Switzerland, the land of grids and Helvetica with so many good design universities to it’s name, and I was doing PR and marketing courses.
But God always causes all things to work out for my good, and it turned out that the way the courses were structured gave me oodles of free time to pursue personal projects, to work on my own craft and to have time to reflect and grow not just in technical skills, but learn more about what it takes to be a professional designer and not merely someone who can use Adobe software. I’m still growing, ever growing. My motto remains that: the day I think I’m good is the day I stop learning, and is therefore the day I fail.
This is why I often seem to be very harsh on myself, but I want to continue to learn and grow, keep learning, and learning, and keep getting better and better at what I do. I will never be the best. And I will never be ‘good enough’, because the race will never end. But I will be the best Lizzy that I can be, the best designer that Lizzy at whatever point in time of her life can be, and once that moment passes, the next ‘best’ awaits.
Things are moving for me at the moment, I’ll talk more about it if and when it actually happens.
Doors are opening, and God will lead me to the right ones. Now the next pressing task is to find an internship for next year. Self-sourcing will not be easy, but the same way God made all things work out for my good by causing circumstances to allow me to come to Switzerland, the same way God will provide the needed time and chance for me to do an overseas, graphic design internship for Spring 2011. Amen, amen and amen.