The Design Conference '24 Wrap Up

A strategist, writer, designer, senior account director and their CEO walk into a conference. What happens next? You’re gonna have to read on.

Jul 2024

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At Re, we’re pretty big fans of The Design Conference. Over the years, we’ve been lucky to see some of our own up on stage – Sumita Maharaj, Shannon Bell, Sonja Kählström and G Torto to name a few. This year was no different. Our CEO Pat took to the stage with his insights into leadership and the value of design in the age of AI, not to mention unmatched vulnerability and a lot of swearing. All to the backdrop of recent Re alum Alysha Menzel’s beautiful illustrations.

But enough about Pat (sorry Pat). What did we take away from the other 20+ talks and workshops? Heaps. From cardboard penises to coral alphabets, there was a bit to take in. Here’s what the gang had to say.

1. The design industry is cool and fun

Georgia Phillips, Senior Account Director

Sounds like a cliché… but it took going to The Design Conference to remind me how incredible our industry really is. When we’re immersed in projects day in and day out, we sometimes forget to look up and appreciate that the world around us is full of inspiration, interesting people and cool sh*t. The work the team at Mucho shared for The University of Carolina’s annual report has lived rent-free in my mind ever since – the simplicity of the execution to land the idea ‘Less is More’ by using linocut print – genius. TDC has inspired me to make sure I get out there and go to as many talks as possible, and I’d encourage anyone in our industry to do the same.

2. To do what you love, love what you do

Dante Bernard, Designer

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” really got put to the torch as we debated, laughed and cried with the inspiring roster of creatives at the design conference.What united us together over the three days was this passion for the creative industry, championing the diverse voices of those who live and breathe the work that they love. And like any relationship, got to hear about their messy breakups, the one that got away and the process of discovering themselves on their own terms. It was inspirational to hear the journey that brought each creative to this stage, and how they discovered their personal practice by following what they love. For Matt Voyce it was early 90’s cartoons, for Guillermo Flores it was beautiful nature illustrations and for Kiel Tillman it went viral with sharing his Wu-Tang clan merch to their instagram. Each speaker had their own spark in their personal life that kickstarted the evolution of their creative practice and careers. By following their own path and committing to the work it took to perfect their vision they are able to truly do what they love.

3. Create space for vulnerability

Ola Olorunnimbe, Senior Strategist

As weird as it sounds, it was refreshing to see so many tears shed on the keynote stage. Matt Haynes created a conference atmosphere that encouraged speaking from the heart, and the talks were stronger for it. Notably, many of those tears were shed by men, all of whom were rightly praised for their vulnerability. I’m hopeful this means the days of leaving our emotions at the door are long gone. And I’m hopeful that we’re ready to keep the same energy for all genders. Tears shouldn’t signal weakness, no matter whose eyes they fall from.

4. Gooooo deeeeeeeeep

Annabel Cook, Senior Writer

Those FTP gals go deep. And I want a piece of it. Too often timelines, sprints and crunches mean I don’t go as deep and wide as I’d like to in the discovery phase. But I’m going to change that. From now on you’ll catch me wired up to the latest, most relevant podcast for whatever I’m researching while riding my bike hands-free to nine back-to-back stakeholder interviews while doing a crash course in Quantum computing on my phone. This is over the top. But it’s how I felt after Arielle and Claudia’s talk. They TUNE IN to their topics and audiences hardcore. And their work reflects that. I want to talk to people who know what I don’t (more) because when I do, I know my work’s better for it.

ALSO, let’s fricken share our shit work more. At Re, every rapscallion and their dawg is a crazy overachiever. Perfectionism is rife. To combat that, we should be sharing our bad ideas and discussing their badness. Because it’s a process. And it’s fun.

That’s it. Go deep. Share bad. 

TDC 2024, thanks for the stories and new perspectives. And for giving a bunch of us a reason to hang out outside work and have the best time ever. We simply must do it again.

Re X Herstory

With the support of Re's Side Hustles initiative, we're celebrating First Nations women and donating to a great cause.

By Alysha Menzel and Nina Szewczyk, Senior Designer and Designer

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