Let's Talk Design

by Jeroen Michiels - April 15, 2015

Let's Talk Design is a series of evenings where speakers from the creative sector talk about their work. The goal of these sessions is to inspire, motivate and connect with others in an informal setting. I attended the latest session on March 25.

The speakers were:

Joost Jansen, Illustrator and animator (BE)
Strange Attractors, Design studio (NL/USA)
Sjoerd Koopmans, Designer at SILO (NL) 
LeviSarha, Design studio (BE)

Before we dive deeper into the event let’s try to define ‘design’.

What is Design?

Design is all around us.
Without even knowing it, we’re constantly using design.
It’s a language to communicate a message.
It’s a tool that helps people go around life.

Design is big, so big that a single explanation just doesn’t work. As a designer I often think about the meaning of my passion. My perception will probably be different than those of other designers. But that’s ok. Every designer has his/her own definition and that’s what makes it so interesting.

Although it’s hard to define “design”, it’s important that you keep asking yourself this question.

You might find the following four cases inspire your answer.

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Joost Jansen

“I love it, but I hate it”

Joost Jansen is an illustrator and animator from Brussels. He has participated in several multimedia / interactive projects, documentaries, animation and advertising films.

Joost has developed a unique and recognizable style that contains a lot of honesty and depth. If you look carefully, you can often see Joost in his work, including his commercial projects. His honest style is useful when guiding viewers towards a better understanding of the sensitive topics that make up a lot of his work. He has a love/hate relationship with his work, sometimes finding it frustrating due to its labour-intensive nature.



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Strange Attractors

“Design is … euh…”

Ryan Frisk and Catelijne van Middelkoop have an international studio (Strange Attractors) with offices in Rotterdam and New York. They are specialized in innovative and strategic solutions that influence culture and commerce.

Ryan and Catelijne’s presentation aimed to clearly define ‘design’. As we’ve already seen, ‘design’ is not an easy word to define, which is probably why the audience was left a little confused. However, they did inspire me to dedicate this blog post to one main topic: ‘What is design?’.

I have a lot of respect for the work produced by Strange Attractors. Below is ‘It’s Art in the Game’, a piece that brought young and old audiences together when they added interactive elements in an art gallery. This example uses Escher’s birds as part of a goose hunt.

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“Aren’t we too young to speak here?”

Sarha Duquesne and Levi Dethier are two product designers who met at the very beginning of their design studies in Belgium. They have been working together since 2014 and recently they showcased their first design collection in Milan.

The young duo showed some of their products at Let’s Talk Design. But due to their age, they felt that they didn’t have a lot of work to show. Instead, they talked about why they were attracted to design and what inspired them to become the designers they are now. Their story made me realise that design is more than just aesthetics. Take their ‘café chair’ for example, it is not only beautiful, it is also functional, practical technically well thought out.

Sarha and Levi happily agreed to share some of their inspiration with us: levisarha

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Now that we’ve been inspired by the four speakers, it’s time to take a look at ourselves and repeat the question we started with: ‘what is design?’. Once you’ve shaped your own vision, it’s easier to influence and inspire others. Especially in a profit-driven environment.

Jeroen Michiels

Interactive Designer