Brand New Conference 2011

TheeBlog-BrandNewConference2011
As I announced last week, I had the pleasure of traveling to the West Coast to attend the 2011 Brand New Conference in San Francisco. This is the second year the cool cats at Under Consideration (Armin and Bryony) organized this event (last year we gathered in NYC) and it could be easily described as a full day full of inspiring, educational and very entertaining presentations by über talented and respected designers/agencies from all over the world such as Vince Frost (FROST* – Australia), Christopher Simmons (Mine™ – San Francisco), Marina Willer (Wolff Olins – London), Matteo Bologna (MUCCA Design – New York) Alfredo Burga and Claudia Boggio (Infinito – Peru), Jonathan Notaro (Brand New School – New York), Ben Barry and Everett Katigbak (Facebook – California) etc… Yes, I know, and it is OK if you’re feeling jealous right now :) Today I want to share my experience, what I learned, what I liked, who I had the pleasure to meet and of course, a few inspiring quotes by our wonderful speakers.

But first, I want to thank Armin and Bryony again for busting their asses organizing and planning this monster-baby. We all know the amount of effort and sacrifice that goes into each conference, and believe you me, it shows! I’ve been to many conferences and seminars, but very few manage to keep the entire crowd connected, active and entertained for the entire eight hours, or more. Congratulations on another successful conference guys and I’m sure next year’s will be as great or even better! – BTW, aren’t you glad you didn’t have to mention my name this year? :)

UnderConsideration working hard

UnderConsideration working hard

Bryony & Armin

Bryony & Armin

If I have to summarize this year’s conference and share my experience, I would definitely have to begin by saying it was simply fantastic and definitely one of my favorites Design conferences out there. I was at the first conference in NY last year and I had high expectations for this year’s event -needless to say, they were surpassed :) I also know that this conferences will soon become THEE event every designer must attend. There were many things we learned and shared, but there were two ‘topics’ that stood out and that most speakers strongly emphasized throughout their presentations. The importance of RESEARCH and a deep level of involvement before and during a project, and the importance of delivering STORIES in a concise and clear way. I wanted to recap the event in a simple and narrative way as a designer. No bullshit, no pompous words or metaphoric narrations… simply what I saw and learned. If you were at the conference and feel like I left something out, please feel free to add or comment, and for those of you who were not able to attend, I strongly suggest you start planning a NY trip for next year already!

BNCONF welcoming sign

BNCONF welcoming sign

The Venue

The Venue

Registration

Registration

Goodie bags!

Goodie bags!

Volunteers

Volunteers

So, registration started early, and as I approached the registration desk to pick up my badge, I met a cool volunteer, Mongoose, who recognized THEE BLOG and introduced himself and mentioned he enjoyed my pre-conference interview with Armin. What a great way to start the day! Soon after, we stopped by the goodie bag desk and picked up our sweet goodies including a nice tote bag by Hoefler & Frere-Jones, a few goodies from the always awesome sponsors Neenah Paper, MailChimp, Shool of Visual Arts, FontShop, FontBureau, etc. and the lovely BNCONF program, sketchbook and t-shirt, which by the way were cleverly designed and ‘marked’ with their respective unit cost – inspired by this year’s theme and beautiful hand-lettering titles by John Hodgins. I’ll show you these items soon.

Getting ready...

Getting ready...

The action backstage

The action backstage

Armin getting ready...

Armin getting ready...

It was showtime! and first up was Vince Frost (FROST* – Australia) to talk about FROST* innovative creative process and beautiful work. While browsing through lovely work designed for clients such as the Sydney Dance Company or Sydney Opera House, Vince talked about how they see each project as an opportunity to play, contribute and share stories, and how sometimes projects are all about the actual process and not just the expected A to B solution. Vince also shared a few gems learned while working at Pentagram like treating your client’s brief as a gift in which you will eventually find the answer -if you know where and how to look of course. And as if this was not enough, he covered a few pros and cons of working with low budget organizations and the advantages of involving their clients through the creative process. Say what!? Yes, involving the client and inviting them to witness and be part of the creative process improves the client’s experience and becomes a collaborative project instead of a pitch or hard-sell. Ha! The aesthetic quality of his work and the impressive clarity of his ‘core idea’ delivery reminded me why Vince was one of the youngest associate partners at Pentagram and why I’ve been looking forward to meeting him!

Some interesting quotes:
- “You’ve got to find an idea that comes from the brief, It’s the gift from the project.”
- “The idea that creativity is a process and nothing is ever completed.”
- “Creating a brand that is an asset for the community” (creates a lasting connection)

Vince Frost!

Vince Frost!

Vince Frost preaching

Vince Frost preaching

Recipe for successful results

Recipe for successful results

FROST* - Syndey Dance Company

FROST* - Syndey Dance Company

After a very promising start, it was Christopher Simmons‘ (Mine™ – San Francisco) turn. Chris began his presentation by proudly presenting his small (three person) agency Mine™ and going over a few charts explaining the necessary connection and principles every organization must have in order to deliver a good product and establish a successful brand by stating “Great leaders can make better people, better people make better products and better products setup for great design.” Chris decided to switch things up a bit and instead of showing various projects, decided to concentrate in one, guiding us through the entire process including pitch, research, some more research, client shenanigans, process and delivery. Oh and how could I forget… their T-shirt test! Nothing crazy but a simple question when working on any project they’re given, “Would people wear this on a t-shirt?” The level of dedication, research and deep involvement Chris showcased was inspiring and ‘real’ – we’ve all been there. But not only did Chris changed the script by presenting just one project, he also invited his client to join him on stage to share her experience and answer a few questions. I have to agree with Armin and congratulate Chris on his brave and ballsy move, after all, we could be a very vicious crowd :) It was great to hear from Chris’ client and see the same process he presented, but this time, from a different perspective.

Some interesting quotes:
- “We go with the 80/20 rule where 80% is research and analytical and the 20% is whatever you think might work.”
- “I am working really hard to stay small. The more people you have the less time you spend designing.”
- “The process always has to be a dialogue”

Christopher Simmons

Christopher Simmons

T-shirt test!

T-shirt test!

BUN MEE by Mine™

BUN MEE by Mine™

Christopher Simmons + Client

Christopher Simmons + Client

BUN MEE

BUN MEE

Then, it was Marina Willer’s (Wolff Olins – London) turn. I can just imagine how tough it must be for speakers to prepare slide presentations and gather material other designers can enjoy. But then, I learned something from Marina. Brake the ice and begin your talk with a huge photo of your twins! I mean, don’t take it literally, it could be anything else, your girlfriend, your 37 cats or your My Little Pony collection -Armin. Whatever you choose, that first slide says a lot about you and should be treated with love and care!

The twins!

The twins!

Marina presented a few projects that have defined her career and Wolff Olins as a global agency. Projects that we’ve all seen, admired and yes, questioned every now and then. As many of you might know, Marina is responsible for the timeless and ever-evolving identity for TATE in the UK. Marina used this project to explain the process behind ‘elastic’ brands and identities and how these should be constantly evolving and improving, based on what the end user perceives or wants. Her fearless use of color and film-generated effects give her work a unique edge and personality, easy to describe but so hard to achieve sometimes!

Marina also talked about the importance of revising work and collaborating with clients via workshops to analyze how a brand has evolved and what can be done in order to keep it relevant and ‘moving’. Again, RESEARCH dominates the process and its results are pretty evident.

Some interesting quotes:
- “When creating the TATE brand there was a hope to democratize art and make it more of a space for experience rather than a gallery.”
- “There are different levels of participation people want to have with bands and things in general.”
- “What does the world need? What’s special about you?”

Marina Willer :)

Marina Willer :)

Marina Willer- TATE

Marina Willer- TATE

Marine Willer - (RED)

Marine Willer - (RED)

Marina's Inspiration and Process

Marina's Inspiration and Process

Finally, Marina shared some of her interesting experimental film work as well as a few VH1 spots. I must admit this was a nostalgic moment as we all remembered the good old days when music channels were about that, music.

Marina Willer - VH1

Marina Willer - VH1

As if all these great presentations and visual goodness weren’t enough, it was Paddy Harrington’s (Bruce Mau Design – Canada) turn. Paddy began his presentation with a bright green slide that I’m sure captured everyone’s attention and not only because of its bright color and boldness, but because of its powerful message. The message? “Branding is for cows stories are for people.” Now THAT’S how you start off your speech with a punch! Paddy gave us a brief intro and history of branding, from cattle labeling, to jingles and examples of how brands can become up to 6times more expensive than the actual product (KRAFT)

One thing that I admired from Paddy’s presentation was the fact that he presented a few blank audio clips to a theater full of ‘visual’ people. I think is safe to say now that this is a pretty good idea when attempting to capture your audience, have them concentrate and ‘listen’ to the message being delivered. Amongst the samples of beautiful work produced by Bruce Mau, Paddy talked about their RESEARCH and work for Fogo Island Inn, BOOM and Dorado Beach which included beautiful patterns by the always amazing Marian Bantjes. And of course Paddy had to mention their recent OCAD University project giving us some insight on the idea and process behind it and sharing an interesting video.

Some interesting quotes:
- “Over time the word brand has lost it’s meaning”
- “The Internet is forcing corporations to rethink themselves”
- “Every single project is a field of opportunity”

Paddy Harrington

Paddy Harrington

on Branding...

on Branding...

Bruce Mau Design - OWN

Bruce Mau Design - OWN

Bruce Mau + Marian Bantjes!

Bruce Mau + Marian Bantjes!

Bruce Mau - OCADU

Bruce Mau - OCADU

It was now time for some motion and animation eye candy! And who better to to talk about this than Jonathan Notaro (Brand New School – New York) who by the way created the lovely intro animations for this year’s Brand New Conference. Jonathan began his talk by introducing Brand New School and its different locations, yes, including their ideal happy place Los Yorkdon. (Los Angeles, New York, London). Jonathan then began showing a variety of projects including clients such as Jack Daniel’s, Cartoon Network, Fuel TV and Palm. We all love those amazing Jack Daniel’s morphing TV spots, but to be honest, their work for Cartoon Network made me smile and want to learn motion graphics (by the way, I’ve been trying to do it for some time already, but who the hell has extra time to learn!) Maybe it’s the fact that I tend to watch Cartoon Network A LOT with my kids, or the fact that as a visual creature I have this beautiful color+grids fetish, all I know is that I really enjoyed their reel. The attention to detail and obvious combination of talent and skills were evident in each video presented. I am not joking when I say that I kept writing ‘MUST LEARN MOTION GRAPHICS!” on my notepad throughout his entire talk.

Jonathan answered a few questions and mentioned the importance of involving the client during the creative process and making them feel like they’re part of it, as well as how pitching for jobs has evolved with time.

Jonathan Notaro

Jonathan Notaro

Brand New School + Jack Daniel's

Brand New School + Jack Daniel's

Cartoon Network!

Cartoon Network!

Cartoon Network reel

Cartoon Network reel

Brand New School + Palm

Brand New School + Palm

As we were still digesting and replaying iPhone videos of the visual goodness provided by Jonathan, Bryony introduced Claudia Boggio and Alfredo Burga (INFINITO – Peru) who I’ve been looking forward to see in action given their numerous awards and stunning work featured n last year’s Brand New Awards. The quality of their smart, elegant and detailed work combined with the juicy delivery of their presentation not only blew me away (as well as twitter) but warmed me up and made me proud as a fellow Sudaca. One of my favorite moments of the day was when I had the pleasure of meeting Claudia and Alfredo and to my surprise, as I was introducing myself, I learned that Alfredo knew who yours truly was and told me he is a loyal THEE BLOG reader. I wanted to thank you again Alfredo -if you are reading this- and thank the Infinito team in Perú, who you also mentioned follows THEE BLOG. Mil gracias chicos, un saludo y felicitaciones, la estan rompiendo!!

Alfredo + Claudia. FYI, that's not me.

Alfredo + Claudia. FYI, that's not me.

Claudia Boggio + Marina Willer

Claudia Boggio + Marina Willer

Claudia and Alfredo began their presentation introducing us to Peruvian culture and folklore in order to lay a foundation that would serve as a backbone and influence to their work as well as their methods of thinking and designing. But before I get into their presentation I wanted to share one of the many inspiring Infinito quotes that stayed with me long after the conference was over. “We want to fulfill the human need to be surprised”. And that’s exactly what they did!

Alfredo began his presentation by stating ‘we believe we’re not in the business of of doing identity or packaging, but in the business of creating unique things and conveying powerful messages.’ This statement couldn’t describe better what most of us designers, illustrator and programmers strive for! As I mentioned above, I fell in love with their work and ideology, but what I also enjoyed about their mantra is the fact that they are strong advocates of heritage and cultural pride, understanding that it has the power to unite us and make us unique. But they don’t just preach it, they are constantly incorporating these ideals and elements successfully throughout their projects. I think I speak for most attendees when I say that every slide and project shown made me a bigger fan. Everything had a purpose and was perfectly executed. The strong heritage influence on their 338 packaging, the dedication and love applied to their ‘La Iberica 100th Anniversary’ project, the clever and beautifully executed coffee stain illustrations for Coffee Box and the organic and delicious identity for Punto Orgánico proved their point and made a strong statement. “We’ll be seeing more of Infinito very soon”

Infinito!

Infinito!

Infinito - Perú

Infinito - Perú

Infinito + La Iberica

Infinito + La Iberica

Infinito + Coffee Box

Infinito + Coffee Box

Infinito + Punto Orgánico

Infinito + Punto Orgánico

We were approaching the home stretch, but we were all anxious to meet and see what the Facebook peeps Ben Barry and Everett Katigbak (Facebook – California) had in store. With an opening slide featuring Facebook’s unofficial mantra “Move fast and break things” things looked like they were about to get interesting. Ben began by introducing himself and sharing a bit of information I was not aware of. He worked at The Decoder Ring in Austin Texas, now known as Helms Workshop! (10 points for Ben!!) Eventually, they had to explain their decision to leave their jobs and become in-house designers at Facebook (mind you, this happened about 3 years ago, when the company was not yet the monster it is today). Ben and Everett then explained a bit how life is working at Facebook mentioning it was a little like College. You would have those 2 semesters or courses that would drain you, and then you have those semesters when you unwind, enjoyed and relaxed. They also shared self-initiated mini-events like Hackathon and Lockdowns.

Although we as users don’t get to see much of ‘Design’ work, these guys stay pretty busy creating internal materials, marketing products or pages and handling the design and communications aspect of bigger events like F8 Developer Conference (I know most of you know by now what F8 means considering they just dropped some new tools and changes to Facebook yesterday)

Ben Barry - Facebook

Ben Barry - Facebook

Everett Katigbak - Facebook

Everett Katigbak - Facebook

And last but definitely not least, they shared some new promotional material they are currently working on and that I was definitely not expecting. I think that by now, a good percentage of the world knows about Facebook or has a Facebook account (you know your mom and grandma have one!) so when I heard them talk about tools to promote and showcase Facebook’s value as more than just a place to share jokes, post rants about your ex or cyber-stalking, I was confused. But then, after watching a sample of these mini-documentaries, it all made sense and my perception of its uses and capabilities broaden. I wanted to publicly congratulate Ben and Everett for their amazing work and for showing us that in-house teams can also rock!

Move fast and break things

Move fast and break things

F8

F8

Facebook's print studio

Facebook's print studio

Hackathon! -Notice the lack of Facebook blue

Hackathon! -Notice the lack of Facebook blue

Facebook

Facebook

Facebook illustrations

Facebook illustrations

Facebook mini-documentaries

Facebook mini-documentaries

And then, there was one speaker left. It was Matteo Bologna’s (Mucca Design – New York) turn to delight us with his enviable wit and sense of humor. Not to mention his impressive talent! This is the second year in which the closing speaker has the entire theater laughing out loud and drops more brilliant/comical statements and f-bombs than the combined roster of speakers before him together. Last year was Erik Spiekermann, and this year was Matteo’s turn to kick ass, close the conference and get everybody warmed up for the after-party.

Matteo Bologna

Matteo Bologna

Matteo Bologna killing it

Matteo Bologna killing it

Matteo has designed identity and branding platforms for many of New York’s best bars and restaurants. His work is characterized by simple yet concise aesthetics and a very, very strong dedication and love for Typography. He began his presentation by comparing it to his… first time? He also shared his vision and perception of ‘Branding’ and people working at advertising agencies. I gotta say, not too far off :). Matteo then confessed his addiction: Typography and shared a few exercises and samples of his beautiful typefaces and work, including identities and packaging for bars like Pravda, Balthazar, The Chelsea and Schiller’s. He also shared his early design process and methods which as blunt and funny as they seemed, are unfortunately, absolutely true.

When talking about Mucca’s improved and developed process, Matteo reiterated the importance of research, involvement and the power of good typography, as this alone could carry and determine the look and personality of a brand. He also mentioned that ‘project briefs’ or as Matteo calls them, brand position statements, as the guide or roadmap that offers them the freedom to explore uncharted territories in order to arrive at the new idea without losing the essence of the brand. In the end, Matteo’s work will still be dominated by typography, sometimes in an excessive and compulsive manner – by choice and his unique and custom identities will continue to raise the bar and inspire us all.

Mucca Design

Mucca Design

Mucca Design + Pravda

Mucca Design + Pravda

Cheap, Decent, Good

Cheap, Decent, Good

Branding stripped down to basics

Branding stripped down to basics

Mucca Design - Matteo Bologna

Mucca Design - Matteo Bologna

And that was it! The conference was over, but the after party was about to begin. Overall it was a great experience in which I learned from amazingly talented and inspiring people, connected with a few friends and had the pleasure of meeting people I look up to and follow constantly like the always awesome Jessica Hische, Marina Willer, Matteo Bologna, Vince Frost, etc. Now, as if all the photos above were not enough, I leave you with a few more photos of the day, goodies and speakers.

Thanks again and hope to see you next year!

*Intro photo by Steve Maller.

Thank You

Thank You

Brand New Conference

Brand New Conference

Brand New Conference - Armin Vit

Brand New Conference - Armin Vit

Jessica Hische

Jessica Hische

Brand New Conference 2011 - Goodies

Brand New Conference 2011 - Goodies

Brand New Conference 2011 - Poster

Brand New Conference 2011 - Poster

Brand New Conference 2011 - Program

Brand New Conference 2011 - Program

TheeBlog-BNCONF2011-Goodies4





9 comments
  1. Great recap and thank u for sharing! I need to make it to the NYC one now.

  2. Great review of the conference. Keep the good work!!

  3. Gracias Diego por un excelente recap de la conferencia (el mejor que he visto hasta ahora). Fue realmente un gran día. Muchas gracias por tus comentarios de nuestra presentación y nos vemos el próximo año en NY.
    Abrazo!

  4. Gracias Alfredo! Fuen un gusto haberte conocido y de verdad que disfrute muchisimo la presentacion. Felicitaciones! Recibi tu email, y si, definitivamente nos vemos en NY el proximo ano. Saludos al equipo y continuen el buen trabajo!

  5. It must have been a stunning conference….congratulations to Bryony and Armin
    Thanks for the summary it was soooo soooooooooo refreshing to read the snippets of thoughts and the new directions being pushed forward
    Muy muchas gracias

  6. just wondering

    Mucca Design – Matteo Bologna design is a copy of this:

    http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4089/5073210463_726c4459cd_b.jpg ???

    just wondering.

  7. @ JustWondering To be honest, and based on Mucca’s beautiful and impressive body of work and history, I truly doubt it. Just saying…

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