Reason To... get inspired

By Shaun Gomm | 06/09/2016

User experience hand-drawn wireframe

I’m blogging from Reasons To in sunny Brighton this week. For those of you who’ve not come across it before, Reasons To is an incredibly well-established and highly regarded design conference, held annually in the Brighton Dome and the nearby Corn Exchange. Now in its tenth year (yeah, there aren’t many events in our industry that make it to this ripe old age) and seemingly going stronger than ever, I thought it was about time I checked it out.

A design conference you say?

Yes indeed, not a tech conference (although there are many developers and techy folks in attendance), but a conference that clearly appeals to a broad range of people who are interested in creating beautiful, interesting, purposeful things. So we have – both in terms of speakers and attendees – artists and illustrators, photographers, coders, UX designers, creatives, project managers and architects. And they’ve come from all around the world too. I’ve been having beers with folks from Prague and Atlanta, Amsterdam and Austria. This heady mix of people creates a really vibrant, open and fun atmosphere – it almost has a festival feel rather than that of a ‘traditional’ conference – and it’s clear that many are here on their own dollar and their own time.

A few highlights

Let me share a few thoughts from some of the sessions so far. I’ve been interested to find that the style and content of the sessions is more inspiration and thought-provoking than full of tangible takeaways that are going to help you do your job better. There are a few conferences on the scene these days (think dConstruct and Thinking Digital) that aim to ‘take you away’ from your day job and deliver those inspirational moments and life hacks that will help you be better at your job (and your life), and Reasons is definitely in that vein. 

The highlight for me was probably Gavin Strange, a designer and all round creative whirling dervish for Aardman, who gave an extremely energetic performance in the ‘wake-up hour’ straight after lunch, talking about positivity, doing the things you love, and recognising the privileged position that most designers find themselves in, creating amazing work from nothing but their own ideas and talent. Having talked to a few others who saw the session, it seemed to be a real wake-up call and a much-needed jolt of positive energy, and you can’t ask for more than that. 

Glossing over Erik Kessels’ sharing dick pics (yes, you read that right, three minutes of my life I’ll never get back) he’d found on the internet, in what was otherwise a very entertaining portfolio walk through from some of his recent work… The day (or night, as this was the ‘inspiration hour’ where we came back together at 8pm after a bite to eat and a beer) concluded with Stefan Sagmeister, one of the world’s genuine design superstars. He didn’t disappoint. In a talk called ‘Why Beauty Matters’, Stefan was alternately hilarious and genuinely moving in his paean to aesthetic beauty in the art and functional objects we create. It was a perfect finish to the day. 

Jared Tarbell, Etsy founder and digital artist extraordinaire, delivered a beautiful session on Generative Spaces which also deserves a mention. It was amazing to see code being used to create such mind blowing works of art, and that was the perfect way to close day 2.

Looking forward to next year already!