Inside the Brisbane Design Conference: Nat’s Noteworthy Takeaways and Highlights

The Design Conference” is an annual design conference held in Brisbane, Australia, bringing together a diverse range of speakers from a wide range of design disciplines (e.g.: Graphic design, UI/UX design, motion design, packaging and print design, branding, illustration and art). The presentations range from the implementation of design to the struggles design studios and designers face, such as being empathetic and handling sensitive issues, through to what the future of design holds.

We were fortunate to be there for three days representing Team GBST. Now, back at our desks, we have the opportunity to share key takeaways from this year’s conference.


Nat Spargo – Senior UI/UX Designer

As always, the Design Conference had a wide variety of interesting and inspiring talks. Some I could take visual and creative inspiration from, some made me think about the nature of how I work and the purpose of design, some made me ponder what the future of design holds. Here were the standout talks for me:


Thinking outside boundaries, but keeping a tie to the past and your identity (Beetroot)

Yiayia and friends image collage

Beetroot is an art/design studio in Thessaloniki, Greece. Beetroot works in branding for companies but have also created their own art displays based on Greek mythology, aiming to spread messages of diversity and inclusion. They have also started other enterprises based around their design philosophy – notably the “Yiayia and friends” store of curated Greek products.

I was inspired by the bold, exciting, minimalistic and colourful style of Beetroot’s work; and how it ties so closely to the history and the culture of where the team live. Their ability to avoid being pigeonholed as a design studio by branching into other ventures such as art installations and their own range of products was a great example of finding success outside the traditional confines of your business (and your role in it).


How to run social issue campaigns (Innocean)

Innocean a Sydney based design studio. Jasmin created the “Fck the cupcakes” campaign after noticing a need to better motivate men’s involvement in gender equality. As a member of the D&I committee I found the talk very insightful in explaining strategies to help people better understand and engage with social issues.

At GBST we want to foster an inclusive environment that is supportive of diversity, and a key challenge is how to do that without being too heavy handed or disengaging in our messaging. Jasmin outlined her approaches in helping make men more aware and involved in gender equality, which involved using the “trojan horse” of humour, but also in simply learning to target the right people. Some people won’t want to hear what you have to say at all, some will already be on board – it was pointed out it’s not necessary to target either of these people! The key we were told is to target people who don’t know understand the topic well enough, and people who want to help but aren’t sure how they can be involved.


Bringing motion into design (Studio Dunbar)

Collage of motion in design presentation

Studio Dunbar is a design studio based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. They have a strong emphasis on motion design, showcasing some very exciting designs for the NBA, the North Sea Jazz Festival, as well as public art installations.

Motion design has been something I’ve only really dipped my toe into in the past, so I’m always interested to see the work coming out of leading motion studios.

Bright, colourful and bold designs were shown here, using motion to further add meaning and personality to the work. As an example, the motion designs for the North Sea Jazz Festival would change their form to dance around to the sound of a single jazz instrument playing (such as a trumpet or drums). The NBA work included fast motion and exciting animation to get people hyped up for the sport. Another interesting piece of work showed public art displays for screens at train stations, animating the names of destination cities in order to convey the personality of each city.


The rise of AI (various panellists)

AI generated animation video

There were many discussion panels throughout the conference – one of these covered the rise of AI and how this might impact the design industry. While there were no definitive answers, most people saw similar challenges to the past where emerging new technology has greatly disrupted ways of working. Some panellists admitted to using AI as a sketchbook or “testing ground” for new ideas – ie: rather than having to spend hours on a concept that may or may not work, their ideas can now be explored in seconds. They all maintained no AI ended up in their final work – yet. Interestingly the Design Conference opening titles included a commissioned animation made using AI tools – it showed Mandelbrot style patterns continuous zooming in and morphing between leaves, trees and other forms of nature. The animation designer was on the panel and talked about how it is largely a matter of tweaking inputs to the AI to get the output you want and then exporting the result you are happy with. The panel discussed that although there are concerns that creativity will become automated and/or large parts of the design industry will no longer be needed, as a designer it’s advantageous for you to play around with and learn more about AI tools.


Apart from what I have shared, the Design Conference speakers also covered:

  • UX for large retail spaces
  • Designing typography
  • Incorporating your own identity into your work, and how to be respectful of incorporating other identities
  • Innovation in ways of working and forming teams of people
  • Starting a design studio in an emerging economy
  • Branding, and expanding that branding as time goes on
  • Business strategy for design companies
  • Knowing when to collaborate and bring others onto projects
  • Working globally and flexibly
  • Finding your own style and bringing authenticity to your work
  • Connecting modern design work to old cultures respectfully
  • Social media strategy
  • Lighting and projection design for installations
By Nat Spargo
Published: 10/07/2023

Want to shake things up?
Let's chat.

In-page form

Drop us a line below, or get in contact directly.

  • Hidden