I woke up on Friday morning, next to a stranger from Liverpool called Nigel. We’d not met 24 hours before, but before long we were sharing jokes and crying with laughter about the prospect of Cliff Richard entering the world of graffiti. I suppose you had to be there.
I’m going to recount the talks from the day according to my notes. Excuse me if I miss some of the lectures, as for some I just sat back and listened. And it’s far beyond the scope of memory to remember everyone who spoke, and when…. 🙂
Geoff McFetridge will be no stranger to those of you who doodle. For he is unofficially the world’s best doodler. His talk was accompanied with a half hour video of a doodle as he doodled it. Brilliant!
Uffe Elbæk is a Dane who founded Kaospilot, an innovative business school that strives to “qualify the student vocationally as well as personally to thrive interdependently by developing their knowledge, skills and attitudes as pro-active learners, value-based leaders and sustainable entrepreneurs, for the benefit of themselves and society as a whole“. He had some amazing things to say, and spoke about how to listen to those very weak signals from the future, allowing you to see (and feel) change. He seemed very at peace with the role he had in life and had some fantastic pearls of wisdom. One stand out gem – “If you have a problem, imagine what questions your grandmother, father, daughter and friends would ask”.
Tony Davidson, one of the world’s top branding experts who’s work you will have seen, spoke about his brilliant inventor Dad. He created amazing things from stuff in his shed. Clearly a very talented man. Tony talked about the fact that sometimes if you see a problem, you just need to get off your bum and do it. It only takes a little thing being done for there to have been an effect. But he also spoke of time, and how we should value it as the only true signifier of wealth; “The greatest gift we can give to future generations is just how precious time is”.
It was about now that we broke for lunch on the first day. Everyone marvelled at how we still had two and a half whole days of amazing stuff like this to come. And then then everyone stopped marvelling at that, and marvelled at the food. We were blessed each and every day with amazing food. Even dinner on the last day was met with almost incredulous muffled-mouthfuls saying “Mmmmm….Dith food ith juth thoooo gooth!”. And all evening meals were accompanied by a selection of wines and Pen-Lon ales. And the sponsorship from Innocent Smoothies and Teapig teas (an amazing new discovery for me) was welcomed with open mouths. I’m definitely going to seek out Teapigs suppliers in Cardiff. Bloody delicious!
We had a great set of discussion groups, chaired by Mark Shayler from environmental consultancy Eco3, focussing how you can use design (or “Do Design!”) to solve bigger problems. I sat in on one, proposed by Dan (below) that focussed on how we can encourage less commuting, more working from home, more flexible working etc. If we can get millions of people to stop sitting in traffic jams at 8.30am every day, imagine how much happier we (and the planet) would be. A few things that caught my attention from Mark’s talk:
- Over 80% of the environmental impact of a product is set at the design phase.
- We should focus on real outcomes (e.g. an ambulance with siren, ploughing through traffic at high speed, saves lives not time. And clean clothes, not washing machine sales should be the target of the likes of Zanussi).
Every day there was a workshop to choose from (including bushcraft, wood chopping, doodling, running etc etc). I chose running on the first day, to convince myself I was still well on track for Berlin marathon 2 weeks later. We went on a very muddy route that climbed very steep hills, and dived back down past (and nearly through) a swollen river. It made me realise that although i’ve become good at steadily completing 20+ mile runs on pavements, it’s a whole different ball game when you’re on terrain like that. Pretty exhausting, and humbling in equal measures!
Musical entertainment was laid on for the weekend too, and the highlight for me was King Creosote. Funny, sad, beautiful, amazing. Seek him out….
As many stayed up working their way through the free booze I decided an early night was in order. After all, I had been told that tomorrow was “party night”….