Rick Poynor Points Out the Rights and Wrongs of Design Conferences


As we’re in the thick of conference season, Rick Poynor has some thoughts about the lot of them over at Creative Review. Hitting both the wide variety of pros and cons, but largely finding many negatives, from lack of sufficient Q&A and participation with invited speakers to book famous names and asking them to just speak about whatever they want, without any specific requests or guidance. Poynor does touch on some conferences that have worked, his views on what conference trends designers seem more drawn to (smaller, more focused, and green-centric), as well as talking to oft-invited speakers like Stefan Sagmeister:

“First and foremost,” he says, “I like doing it. I tend to get the most out of conferences that are either not centered on design — my favourite in that category by far is Ted, where I am just coming from — or the ones that are in places I normally would not get to visit, like Poona, Shenzhen or Doha.” Sagmeister adds that he enjoys being introduced to a new culture by local designers, and all this is fair enough. These are reasons that most people would give for accepting invitations to speak in faraway places: lecture trips provide a little holiday at someone else’s expense. We might also mention the career-building opportunity, the adulation and the speaker’s fee, which can be considerable.