addmustard’s Design team recently attended ‘Reasonsto: Design, Code & Create’ – an annual event held in Brighton, for creatives from all fields. Speakers from agencies, brands and freelancers bring their experiences and insights to this exciting, and inspiring, three-day event. Our team of experts share who they saw and what they took from it…
Reece Starr, Head of Creative
Having attended ‘Reasonto’ for the past three years, we were looking forward to this year’s event. It’s the perfect way to charge up the creative batteries and see speakers give their take on graphic design, web design, and plenty of other types of design! Over the past few years I’ve specialised in website design, specifically creating interfaces that support the user’s experience, and ‘Reasonsto’ always gives me new insights I can bring to my work.
One speaker I went to see was Espen Brunborg. Espen is an advocate of content-led design, advocating simplicity and typographic principles. So it was right up my street.
Espen didn’t rely on the usual mantras of web best practice and the ethics of UI and UX. There was no mention of ‘testing is paramount’ or anything else that a room full of keen designers and developers would have heard a million times before. Of course he took user testing seriously, but the real theme of his speech is best summarized in a quote he made about half way through his session.
“You can’t test your way to something truly beautiful”
What a wonderful quote – the point Brunborg was making is that testing inevitably results in one of two responses. “Yes, this works best.” or “No, the other option worked better.”
Brunborg challenged the room not to stick to the norm that as designers, we sometimes rely on. Just because everyone uses full with main images with a three-column structure doesn’t make it good. Espen endorsed creativity, and was passionate about the need for bold design if you want to stand out and capture a user’s attention.
It taught me not to play everything safe, that it’s important to explore other ideas and never think that the ‘best’ option is simply what bigger brands are doing. The talk left its mark on me as a designer and will bring his philosophy into my work.
Harriet, Junior Designer
I’ve grown up with Ardman Animations, Wallace & Gromit were a regular feature of lazy Christmas afternoons curled up in front of the TV. So, of course I was thrilled to find out that Gavin Strange from Ardman Studios was lined up to feature as guest speaker at ‘Reasonsto’. He brought a refreshing and childlike enthusiasm to the ethos of design, and his session was infectious and reconfirmed the reasons I love to create.
Free of pretentions, and packed with innovative design nuggets, the talk was an honest insight into design in the workplace and his life-long love with the art. He identified with the niggles that we all face as designers but spoke about the important of finding the fun in projects, and the massive rewards that come with embracing creativity. “Treat work like a game, it’s a way to level up.” Was a quote that stuck with me and reminded me why creativity is such a privilege.
“Come along to a 45min sketching practice.”
This was the intriguing summary of Eva-Lotta Lamm’s talk. And it clearly worked as I put this session down as a priority, not quite knowing what to expect. The plan was to teach us a simple method of sketching under the sun – although the Great British Weather had other ideas….
Eva-Lotta Lamm is a UX designer and illustrator who has worked with the likes of Skype, Google and Yahoo. Alongside those big names, she worked on ‘Sketchnotes’ a collection of visual notes from dozens of conferences and UX events.
For her, “sketchers are the better thinkers.” Of course, you don’t need to sketch to be a great thinker – but in our creative industry, most of our work is digital, and there’s a great value in sketching. I believe that sketching can make us communicate complex ideas in engaging and effective ways.
This technique has a few advantages for me, personally…
- I find taking notes a lot more enjoyable
- I will understand everything I put down a lot better when I come back to it a day (or a week) later
- It forces me to concentrate!
Eva-Lotta’s talk was both useful and inspiring. It taught us that it didn’t matter if we’ve never sketched before, we could use simple, basic shapes to get across concepts. It was a relaxing session that made me want to use this technique on a daily basis.
Tom Pelling, Junior Designer
It’s been a year since graduating from university and I’ve been working with my nose to the ground to break into and establish myself in an extremely competitive industry. I’ve learnt a lot and enjoyed the challenge. However, I have found it hard to keep up my personal projects in which I can experiment with different processes.
Like Reece, ‘Reasonsto’ helped me recharge my creative batteries. And like Harriet, I was inspired by Gavin Strange’s talk. He showed me how self-initiated briefs can help me in my day job and progress into bigger and better things.
“The difference with personal projects is exactly that – [they are] personal. You can pour your heart and soul into them. They’re honest and authentic” – Gavin Strange
Gavin’s talk touched on some inspirational areas, but he kept everything down to earth and engaging with some memes. The result? One of the best talks across three quality and insightful days.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this year’s ‘Reasonsto’ event, as well as any others that have inspired you recently – just tweet us @add_mustard!