What do a sign maker, a screen printer, a fashion designer, and the guy who made Instagram’s word mark all have in common?
First: They’re much more talented than I am. Second: They were all guest speakers at the Brand New Conference in Nashville, Tennessee last week. Most of the attendees were designers, most of the talks were about design, but I came in as an outsider and left a believer. The world of design is vast. And a brand is far more than a logo. I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.
The opening speaker was Charles Anderson of CSA Design in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Anderson’s work is inspired by the comics and horror movies of his youth, and that comes through in everything from the logos he makes to the fun, playful paper toy cut-outs he’s designed for longtime client, French Paper Co. While not something most businesses invest in, the cut-outs are a unique way for French Paper Co. to stand out in an industry that is mostly outsourced.
We saw other unique applications like augmented reality in the work of Sid Lee. This design collective created an app that allowed visitors to the Seattle Space Needle use their phones to view unique pop-ups and items on their screens as they scrolled through the space.
Other designers focused on more tangible applications, like the laser cut wood pieces Isle of Printing did for Barista Parlor, a coffee shop in Nashville. Bryce McCloud, the group’s founder, famously christened his local neighborhood “Pie Town” after a successful public art campaign to rally residents behind the identity. His work brought a neighborhood together and made a coffee shop a destination.
Ben Hulse and Greg Durrell of Hulse & Durrell presented their work for the International Olympics Committee. The two designers updated, preserved, and codified the identity of every single Olympics – everything from pins to stuffed animal mascots. Each piece was updated and given standards for designers to use. The project came from their belief that the Olympics – and design – have the power to redefine a nation.
The conference talks opened my eyes to the abilities of design. It’s more than just choosing nice colors and fonts, it’s changing the way that people interact with their world. I’m excited that I get to help introduce people to these ideas, and that Bullhorn gets to do its own part in creating these changes.