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SID17: What Did We Learn At WorkLife?

At this year’s CPD-Accredited WorkLife series sponsored by Flokk, we tackled some of the design industry’s most poignant and controversial topics. Here’s what we took away…

Proudly sponsored by Flokk (formerly, Scandinavian Business Seating) Our SID visitors once again had the opportunity to see a range of global design trailblazers, thought-leaders and brands share their knowledge, experience and journeys on a number of key industry issues faced by local A+D.

The panels were hosted by members of the Indesign editorial team with one guest moderator, Todd Hammond (Hammond Studio), alongside prominent members of the design community.

As usual, these seminars were brimming with as much spirit, reflection and adventure as the inquisitive world of A+D requires. Butting in on the design discussion across Asia Pacific, these lively and heated industry debates put a spotlight on A+D in a whole new way. Surrounding topics relevant to the disciplines and professions of A+D today, the focus was certainly Australian but the insightfulness was valid worldwide.

Presented by Indesign Magazine in partnership with Flokk  and hosted by participating Sydney Indesign showrooms, attendees took home the latest issue of Indesign magazine – issue #70, the ‘consume’ issue – and a designer Sunbrella notebooks (which after each seminar, were scribbled with lots of info!)

WorkLife 2017 focused on translating key industry insights to the local market. Here’s what we learned…

WorkLife 2017


Hot Enough to Hashtag: A+D in the Social Media world


Interstudio Showroom, Chippendale


Indesign magazine Co-Editor, Sophia Watson


Adele Bates (Adele Bates Design)

Angela Ferguson (Futurespace)

Dr. Jonathan Hutchinson (USYD),

David Flack (Flack Studio),

Medora Danz (Blu Dot)

What we learned:

Bottom line? As a designer and/or brand, you can’t afford not to be on social media. Simple as that. What we did uncover from our panelists however, is that you don’t necessarily have to be on *every* social platform ever created. You can pick and choose to focus your energy on where your audience is playing most.

Panelists David Flack and Adel Bates for example, shared that they don’t necessarily bother with Twitter, and focus much more of their time on Instagram. Angela Ferguson however, mentioned how LinkedIn has been an important staple in her social diet in raising and discussing key industry, hot button issues.

We also uncovered that while being a social influencer in design *sounds* easy, it actually takes a great deal of insight, intuition and strategy to get there. One point made by Flack for example was that you need to invest in good photography. You just do. No excuses. Senior VP for Blu Dot Medora Danz mentioned that authenticity is key in the Blu Dot social strategy, where they only post images and text that speaks an intrinsically “Blu Dot language” and never veers outside of that spectrum.

We covered so much more, including measuring your metrics, the frequency factor, getting to grips with the politics of ‘likes’, alternative marketing, self-editing, and ultimately prolonging the reach of our digital presence through social media.

Click below for a glimpse at our Hot Enough To Hashtag panel in action!


Kitsch, Please: How the industry can disrupt and experiment without getting naff


CDK Stone, The Alex


Indesign magazine Co-Editor, Sophia Watson


Monika Branagan & Ali McShane (The Bold Collective)

Tim Giles (Geyer),

Sean Dix (Dix Design + Architecture via OBODO)

James Calder (Calder Consultants)

What we learned:

Bottom line – is ‘kitsch’ a bad thing? Absolutely not! In fact, the consensus seemed to be that there isn’t enough kitsch in the current design landscape. We should be taking more risks, experimenting more and not being afraid to fail.

The question then, is how can we mitigate the risks so that if we do miss, we don’t miss by so much. Ali McShane and Monika Branagan from The Bold Collective shared that for them, it’s all about the briefing process – when a client says “minimal”, that could be vastly different to what a designer takes to mean “minimal”. Teasing out the needs and wants of a client is just as much of an art form as the designing process – it requires great creative skill and interpretation to be able to successfully decipher what it *really* is that a client might want.

For Geyer’s Tim Giles, the transparency of the return briefing and ideation stage is the most valuable moment to discover opportunities for experimentation and kitsch. In his work for the recent Telstra Discovery smart stores national roll out, Giles and team Geyer actually went and worked for a day in the Telstra store to better discover the challenges faced by staff and potential opportunities for wild innovation.

The general consensus seemed to be that kitsch is an essential part of the design industry, but it needs to be grounded in something more powerful than weird for weird’s sake. Sean dix for instance shared an experience he had in designing a new hospitality space in Hong Kong, where for a Chinese restaurant (a traditionally difficult food genre to attract Hong Kong locals too) he specified an entire wall of simultaneously waving Chinese luck cats. As he recalled, it was silly, fun ad outrageous, but the locals loved, and still love it, because there is something authentic and real in the internalised cultural humour of that design.

Ultimately the message was clear: experiment, get weird, be kitsch – but do your due diligences, do your R+D, cleanse your mind by getting all the bad ideas written down or drawn out then throw it away, and whatever you do, don’t be polluted by the “inspo” boards on social media!

Click below for a glimpse at our Kitsch, Please! panel in action!


Mobile Working is the new agile: How to design for an ‘out of office’ workforce


Cafe Culture + Insitu @ the Tongue’n’Groove showroom, Waterloo


Todd Hammond, Director of Hammond Studio


Adele Winteridge (Foolscap Studio)

Sue Solly (Geyer)

Kristina Tarle (WMK)

Kirsty Angerer (Humanscale)

What we learned:

Bottom line – are we heading toward an ‘officeless’ world? Probably not. BUT – the future of the workplace is undergoing some drastic and severe changes that designers are currently grappling with. We’ve done ABW. We’re at agile – but designers are increasingly finding that the workplace isn’t the only sector being influence by the agile workforce.

For instance, moderator Todd Hammond shared his experience with this new hybrid typology where sectors such as hospitality, retail, airports, hotels, education spaces and so on, are being designed as modern workplaces, or at least with workplace capabilities, where users can work remotely and continue working at the café, while waiting for their flight, in the hotel lobby, and so on.

This of course is only possible through the miracle of technology – and so one of the key discussion points was focused on the primary challenges and resolutions for integrated technology – from both an interior, architectural and industrial design perspective.

The general consensus seemed to be that while the office as we know it may still exist well into the future, the mobile workforce is creating demands and movements around how we currently define the “workplace” as a typology – insisting it seems, that it bleeds over into our cafes, restaurants, hotels, airports and education spaces. What will this workplace-driven design world look and feel like? The panelists had many thoughts… but you really had to be there 😉

Click below for a glimpse at our Mobile Working panel in action!


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