The Future Forecast

 The Future is an exciting and immersive festival of ideas, attitudes and innovations that will shape the future with over 70 speakers from the worlds of media, technology, design, brands and business. 

 

The first week of November has outdone itself with a series of informative and inspiring events from HALFTONE Print Fair, Make: Shift, The Design Kids Dublin and the upcoming IDI Design Leaders Conference. You might also be aware that these events are occurring to coincide with the 2017 Dublin Design Festival, which extended its programming from one week to a fortnight.

Another addition which launched last weekend is the Future, piloted by Richard Seabrooke, creative director at Modern Green and the brains behind Socialise. The two-day event propelled out of thin air flaunting high profile speakers from Grafton Architects, Paula Scher of Pentagram New York and the illustrious Stefan Sagmeister to world renowned agencies including Fjord, DesignStudio and It’s Nice That/Anyways.

What piqued our interest initially was the overwhelming ambition presented by the Future, tackling a variety of themes from “The End of Advertising” to “Future Visionaries” and “Incredible, Epic Artists” meaning that we had to see the Future, to really believe in it. From the perspective of an events curator, Seabrooke appears to have tasked speakers with a very direct brief so as to avoid the expected cliché of a self-indulgent portfolio replacing it with a series of compelling and thought-provoking speeches, each one offering a key solution whilst providing real insight into the future of advertising, design, innovation and creativity.

Ikigai: The Power of Being

A prevalent issue in the creative industry in Ireland is the barren space between creative education and the professional workforce. Students aren’t equipped with real life skills and are forced to enter into internships with minimal or no wage. These Internships are completely unregulated and interns rarely secure paid or permanent employment. However, newly established initiatives are starting to emerge, designed to bridge this gap between education and the workforce, as stated by two speakers who are passionate about finding a solution.

Frankie Ratford, who accidentally launched the international TDK (The Design Kids) movement elaborated upon the eye-opening concept of Ikigai “A Reason for Being”. As a successful graphic designer and a sought after creative director, Ratford was eager to use her creativity for good so channeled her adventurous spirit into setting up a new social enterprise aimed at connecting college students to professionals in the graphic design industry. TDK is now held internationally, with the Dublin instalment continuing tonight in Wigwam on Abbey Street.

Similar to TDK is Lecture in Progress, spearheaded by Will Hudson, the co-founder of It’s Nice That. While the Design Kids provides a platform for creatives to showcase their work, Lecture in Progress is an educational resource that breaks down the barriers of the creative world by delivering valuable and relevant insight and advice. These resources enable and empower emerging creatives on their journey to becoming the artists, designers, makers and innovators of the future.

Collaboration is Key

The Future opened with a discussion by Colin Harmon of 3fe and David Wall from WorkGroup. Harmon and Wall demonstrated the pros and cons of a client: designer relationship, as at the end of the day in any project, both voices need to be heard as co-creation becomes not only a buzzword of the future but an essential way of working. William Rowe of Protein, hammered home the importance of including customers in the product process as clients and consumers continue to value authenticity and transparency. Collaboration is integral to many a creative project with some of the world’s leading brands gaining huge success from working with tech born “social influencers” like Lil Miquela to Boiler Room’s VR pursuit with Google Pixel.

Leisure is Labour

As the boundaries between work and life increasingly blur, more and more people are voicing their experiences of burnout. In Ireland, we are existing in an economy where we work to live and we certainly live to work, most specifically in the creative industry where it is so difficult to switch off. The Future is a prime example of this cross-pollination between leisure and labour, the divide between social and educational no longer exists as we crave new ways of living and learning.

William Rowe described how Generation Z are experiencing this blur the most as young entrepreneurs and social influencers market themselves in the social realm while on the other side of the scale Aoife McElwain, food writer and events planner, discussed her soon-to-be published novel Slow: Series providing respite to the work: life balance. Also touched on by David Hieatt of the Do Lectures, the book outlines the necessity of returning to slow forms of living from swimming to food-styling, aimed at restoring and recovering.

Another speaker, Sharon Greene of Queens of Neon also echoed the importance of recovery by unveiling her experiences of burnout from over-working, displaying how essential it is for creatives to separate their day to day life from their work and to take a well-deserved break every once in a while.

Overall, the Future presented a well curated series of talks, debates and conversations that sought to demystify any possible threats to the creative industry, address the social output of our work and hint at changes that might need to be addressed on a social and cultural level. While we may not be feeling too optimistic about our own humanity there is a definite appetite for diversity and collaboration in the creative industry which could in some small way lead us to more self-awareness, restoration and recovery.

Words by Jane Gleeson.