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Rebecca shares her thoughts on OFF GRID 18, an international multidisciplinary event hosted by the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD).

OFF GRID 18 logo

This week I spent some time soaking up inspiration and perspectives at OFF GRID 18. The two-day conference was also a chance to explore Wellington, with talks hosted in venues as eclectic as the Zoo, the central stairwell of the Wellington Museum, and the banks of Whairepo lagoon.

OFF GRID 18 was really refreshing as it stimulated discussion and ideas rather than just showing off the latest trends and stylish portfolios. A question that kept coming up was “how do we design in a way that tells a story that reflects its people or place”, rather than simply taking on a globalised ‘cool’ aesthetic. This is an issue that often dances around my own mind, and comes up regularly in the work we do at Gusto, so it was invigorating to hear some additional points of view.

My highlights:

  • Johnson Witehira introducing us to his inner city mural Ngā Kākano: The Seeds, which brings Māori history, art and design into the CBD. We can see this mural from our studio windows so it was really meaningful to learn about the story and intention behind his piece.
  • A crash course on AR/VR technology from Wrestler’s Ben Forman, and hearing about what a AR/VR future will hold (it’s going to be exciting and a little bit scary). There is a lot of potential here for education and entertainment using this medium but the syntax and ethics don’t seem to have yet been developed.
  • A lagoon-side workshop about bringing cultural representation into urban design and artworks, which turned into a lively discussion around tokenism, history, and whether or not all branding needs to shout at you.

Overall a great day and quite thought-provoking compared to other design conferences I’ve attended. A big thanks to the organisers, speakers, and fellow participants. I’ve certainly come away with a lot to think about with regards to my own practice and the work that we do here at Gusto.

Johnson Witehira at OFF GRID 18
Above: Johnson Witehira with his mural Ngā Kākano: The Seeds