International Assembly: Global Creative Conference

Author: Patrick Sherlock

On Thursday 1st April 2021, I had the pleasure of attending the debut edition of International Assembly, an informal online design conference where speakers were invited to share some of their work and motivations, alongside some personal stories and thoughts.

International Assembly is headed by the same team that previously hosted Graphic Design Festival Scotland, which had been running since 2014. The event was hosted on zoom and consisted of 8 quickfire talks lasting around 15-20 minutes in length. The first of which was an introduction to the new online format, with a recap of how the previous festival and associated events had led up to the creation of INTL.

Here is a brief summary of each of the speakers.

Victoria Fuentes – Hey Studio

The first talk came from Victoria Fuentes of Hey Studio in Barcelona. Victoria started on a positive note by announcing that ‘Covid can’t kill creativity’, and introduced some of the work and collaborations they had been doing over the past year. This included a wide range of clients from global electronics brand Huawei, to local brewery Caravelle – all of which dazzled with a characteristic flair for colour and geometry.

 

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Elijah Anderson

The second talk came from self-taught illustrator Elijah Anderson based in New York. Elijah spoke about current events including  New York’s lockdown and the movements for racial justice, and how these have influenced, affected, and shaped his work over the past 12 months.

He also gave us a tour through his current practices and processes, as well as offering his advice for removing the preconceived notions of what it means to be an artist.

 

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Two Times Elliot

Two Times Elliot are a design consultancy with a particular focus on branding, and who recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary. Two Times Elliot’s team demonstrated their strategic process, in which three departments named ‘Thought’, ‘Expression’, and ‘Experimentation’ collaborate to deliver design that addresses the needs of the audience.

They spoke about the specific emphasis placed on concept and narrative, which is done to help ensure that everything within their work serves a purpose.

Amber Weaver – Femme Type

Amber Weaver was next up, who described her experience creating Femme Type two years ago, having become aware that there wasn’t a fair representation of creatives making type who were women. Femme Type attempts to dilute creative pools, bring people together, create content, design type, develop resources, and finally, inspire! She also offered some advice for using time blocking in the context of developing Type01, the type-focused umbrella media company of which Femme Type is a member.

Nam Huynh

Following this was Nam Huynh, a graphic designer based in Stuttgart, where the audience was to witness his first ever public talk accompanied with a tour of his portfolio. Nam has developed an impressive portfolio with excellent use of 3D and type. Some of the projects highlighted were a campaign identity for Museum Brandhorst, and some poster collaborations for ODAS, a projectspace. Nam also covered some of his work with light and projection, and opined about the importance of trust within the collaborative process to seek out new directions.

 

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A post shared by Nam Huynh (@namhuin)

Mitzi Okou – Where are the Black Designers?

Mitzi Okou is a former cellist turned designer who also co-founded ‘Where are the Black Designers?’, an organisation which addresses the lack of representation within the design industry, especially in leadership and mentorship roles. Not only did this talk draw from Mitzi’s own experiences at design school, but also from the industry response to the George Floyd protests – in which performative gestures were made externally, whilst failing to address the barriers Black designers face within the design industry itself.

Rich Tu

The next presentation was from Rich Tu, sneakerhead and vice president of digital design at MTV. Rich presented work from some recent MTV campaigns, the VMA awards, Nike sneakers, alongside the art direction for Broadway musicals including a redesign of Stomp.

Rich also showcased the #AloneTogether campaign for MTV which provided messaging and resources for audiences during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Eva Cremers

Next was a presentation from Eva Cremers,  a 3D illustrator with a distinctive playful style.

A particular highlight was the collaboration with Nike and Size? to produce a vivid interpretation of Carnaby street, including the inhabitants, history, and architecture.

 

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A post shared by Eva Cremers (@evacremers)

Thierry Blancpain – GrilliType

Finishing off the event was Thierry from Grillitype, a type foundry that is also known for its mini-websites that showcase the personality and emotional impact of fonts.

Thierry introduced a quick history of Grillitype, and how some of its typefaces are used by Pitchfork, Fenty Beauty, Michelle Obama, and Kanye West. Also discussed was the balance between the functional aspects of a typeface, and the expressive potential of type as a designed object.

GT America – minisite

GT Super – minisite

 

Summary

Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen how audiences and events have adjusted to deliver high-quality talks and lectures in an online format. The drive and energy shown by those who host live events continues to connect speakers to audiences. It’s always refreshing to be exposed to new ideas, modes of collaboration, and ways of thinking and I continue to be thankful for the people who put on these events, whether in-person or online.