So yesterday I met the Head of Design at Google, learnt what battles online retailers and brands are facing, talked about Marvel and DC, found out about JustEat and debated innovation v. creativity all of this took place on Day Two of Vision Bristol at the Arnolfini. I’d been invited earlier in the week by Invest Bristol and Bath – as someone with an arts background and who manages a creative workspace I was intrigued to find out more about the difficulties people like our members are facing and also, maybe meet some potential members along the way!

First up giving the opening keynote was Patrick Collister Head of Design at Google, Patrick formally VC of Ogilvy & Mather UK took us on a case study on the New Rules of Communication – “it’s not that the old rules have changed, in the last ten years or so, but they have been completely reversed” by taking us on a journey from an advert for Milk he had created twenty or so years and explaining what the sequel would have looked like, we were able to understand that gone are the days where an advert/design would last for 40 seconds, they’d now last 40 years. 

I also found out that dance is the most popular sport…thanks in part to Billy Elliot and Diversity. You can watch Patrick’s milk ad here

Next up we split into our groups the first session I attended was ran by Steve Chapman, this will probably go down as one of the most surreal talks I have ever been to, there was a serious message all about ‘Permission’ we are so set on getting the right answer that we censor ourselves even when there is no right answer we stop ourselves…hello? if there is no right answer there is therefore no wrong answer, I however am guilty of this and it took me about twenty minutes to get into the ‘swing of things’ let go and have fun. Steve started the session by splitting the room in two and creating personalities for the room, I was Mary and the other half of the room was Bob. We then had to speak to each other, easy you think? well when there is a hundred Mary’s and a hundred Bob’s trying to speak together isn’t easy especially when half of you are saying hello and the other half go with hi. Surprisingly after a couple of tries we ended up doing it, Bob asked Mary out and Mary said no. From there Steve talked us through his six Creative Practices

1. Mad, Bad & Wrong

2. Say ‘yes’ to the mess, no is the language of safety and security

3. Be obvious, be altered

4. Fail happy

5. Embody it

6. Make others look good

We then formed teams of two and we each had to think of a word, say it out loud and create a product, therefore I’m pleased to announce the new amazing form of transport Spaceship Taxi the new quick way to travel between London and NYC simply Beam me up cabbie! To end Steve left us with the thought it’s not about learning new skills, but about letting go of old habits.

Next up…

I signed up to hear from Suranee Abeysuriya about the challenges for Design in a 2D World which she focussed on the online supermarket retailers and big brands. Although this isn’t an industry I know much about it was interesting to hear about the challenges that are facing customers, retailers and brands and that currently neither seems to be adapting well. Due to convenience and improved infrastructure online shopping is becoming the norm, but brands need to consider both online shopping and in-store shopping when it comes to design. 

Suranee explained that when it comes to in-store shopping we select the products instinctively, we know the colour, size and shape and we don’t tend to read the labels or any size amounts. However, we struggle with this online as retailers use thumbnail images and tell you about the product in the description and size information. The problem with this is that you end up often ordering the wrong size product, in the past I’ve been guilty of thinking I’m buying a product for ten when actually I’ve bought it for one. 


It seems to be time to start thinking beyond the pack canvas.

For my third session I decided to be a bit selfish and go to a talk because it was all about a subject I love COMICS the talk was being given by a hero of mine Rian Hughes illustrator for Dan Dare and 2000AD, Rian is an illustrator with a difference as he also supplies font as creates a cohesive marriage where all work works together as a unit. One of his best known fonts is Paralucent font

He has also worked with Marvel and DC, in fact one of his latest Batmobile designs is being released as a model car.


For a fan like myself the talk was incredible a money can’t buy moment!

For the last talk before the closing presentation I decided to go an hear from Carlos Morgado CTO of Just Eat, having met Carlos briefly I was intrigued to find out more about the company, its a common misconception that the company is all about takeaways when in fact they are a tech company who have just recently opened an office in Bristol. Carlos first read through the headlines – 36,000+ restaurants, founded 2001 in Denmark and IPO April 2014. It was fascinating to hear how the company really focuses on the consumer, in fact that is who they see their customers as. Their goal is to ’empower consumers to love their takeaway experience’, tech wise the journey hasn’t been simply when they first started out orders were communicated by fax often with a follow up phonecall to check the order had been received and accepted – easy when you’re taking 10 calls a minute difficult when its over 1000/min (figures correct prior to IPO) to keep up to date with the growing demands they introduced JCTs which enables them to speak to the restaurants in real time, meaning they know when the restaurants are busy allowing them to inform the consumer that there may be a slight delay. 

It was interesting to lift the lid on a brand that I didn’t know much about and also one that seems to be about one thing when they are in fact about something different all together.

The closing talk of the conference was given by Georgia Malden who is the Director of Projects at Contagious, of all the talks I went to I think hers opened my eyes the most. Georgia’s argument was that innovation is often the enemy of creativity, companies like to jump on the tech band waggon…pickle companies thinking they need to get involved in Google Glass – why? This follows on from the view that everything good surely must have to come out of Silicon Valley, when the old school ‘innovators’ are actually based at Madison Avenue. Georgia’s view was that the tech already exists it just needs to be used in a new creative way. The following case studies illustrate this best:

Haircare brand Pantene also got in on the action, when the brand saw a fail in sales they got proactive, they linked up with one of the largest pharmacy chains in the USA and also the weather experts and created an app where when you woke up and checked the weather report for the day the app would tell you not only what the forecast was, but also what pantene shampoo you would need and where your local stockist was. 

These companies weren’t necessarily innovating here, but simply using tech that had been on the market for a number of years, but using it better and in a different and creative way. 

The experience of Vision was fascinating it told me to look at things differently, question what I thought I knew about the industries and also learn about processes I have never come across. It seems creativity and tech aren’t as far apart as some people believe which is a good thing considering we offer a workspace for both!