This year W+K Design London were pleased to be asked to contribute to Graphic Design Festival Scotland, alongside the likes of Grilli Type foundry, illustration collective Nous Vous, photography wonders Studio PUTPUT and many more incredible studios.
W+K London designers Freddy, Kelly and Simon joined the flock of designers in Glasgow on Friday the 21st October, kicking off with their workshop based on the theme of failure. The workshop involved 24 participants ranging from design students to working professionals looking to embrace the W+K ethos of failing hard.
Over the two days the team showcased a rapid, fear-free way of thinking and demonstrate how failing can push your work into untried mediums and unexpected outcomes. The guys experimented, failed hard and together resolved 30 different impossible tasks together. Tasks ranged from quick fire rounds completed individually, to longer collaborative challenges tackled in bigger groups.
Day one kicked off with a three minute brief to ‘Create a new colour’. The team began frantically scribbling their thoughts onto paper which were shared with the whole group minutes later. Solutions ranged from grand ideas of recategorizing the colour spectrum to far fetched theories of colour concepts in space. This fast paced, ‘generate and share’ approach was aimed to get everyone comfortable with a playful, fearless process of thinking and working.
By the end of the first afternoon the team had come up with solutions to many tasks, including a plastic surgery concept aimed to morph you into a celebrity to freeze them in the spotlight and ‘live forever’, a queen stream cam enabling the public to ‘meet the queen’ and a working prototype of a build your own farm app concept to enable you to ‘grow’.
The final task of the day intended to to get them to apply the thinking they’d learned so far to a more traditional format, the poster. Whether it was down to tiredness or fear of failure kicking in, the team reverted to a more commercial approach to the problem solving and ended up on safe, rather disappointing outcomes. It was surprising to see how dramatically their fear free, playful approach changed when faced with the specification of a particular format.
With this in mind, day two was approached a little differently. Sharing more W+K examples illustrating the art of looking sideways at a problem, and thinking a little more outside of traditional ad concepts, the guys challenged the teams with a brief the like of which you might find at W+K: in 2 hours ‘get people talking about Lurpak’.
Giving context, showing examples how brands have done it in the past and pushing them away from creating ‘campaigns’ helped the teams to analyse and apply their learnings from day one to create some wonderfully odd outcomes. From Hansel and Gretel edible installations to melted butter fountains, it was encouraging to see them think differently.
The workshop ended with a 2 hour long group task. The teams were given £20 to create a product from Poundland, that solved an impossible task. There was a distinct change in attitude to generating the work, they were beginning to adjust their thinking, and crucially, they were having fun. The solution to one of the briefs ‘solve loneliness’ was really impressive. The team prototyped a pair of cushions that were embedded with a sensor to enable you feel the other’s heartbeat. There was communal ‘ahhhs’ and a big applauds, for all of the results. A fitting end to the 2 day event.
The weekend of events was topped off with a series of talks from all those studios participating in the workshops. The ambition of W+K Design’s talk was to do two things: shine light on some of the most commonly asked questions about the role of a designer at W+K and showcase some of the madness and variety of work that arises from W+K Design London. The talk was well received and was followed up with more curious questions from the crowd in a panel discussion.
Other talks from Grilli Type and studio PUPUT blew the audience away. Grilli’s dedication to bringing type to life through animation articulated their work brilliantly. It went down well in what could potentially risk falling into quite a niche conversation topic even amongst a design crowd.
Studio PUTPUT’s relaxed but insightful presentation style opened up the door to their theories and approach, which left the crowd wanting more.
The talks were hosted within an exhibition space displaying the best selections from the GDFS poster competition, of which there were over 3000 entries. It was great to host an event amongst such an eclectic variety of design from all over the world.
Overall, the weekend activities provided a great chance to celebrate several areas and topics within design, alongside designers and studios from many different backgrounds. In only it’s third year GDFS is excelling at providing a perfect platform for both the national and international design community. Be sure to check it out next year if you’re in the area.
Photographs by Stephen Hughes