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DIAlogues – Gold Coast: Jason Bird (Objx + Luxxbox) & Kevin Finn (Finn Creative)

May 13, 2011

Welcome to the review of the inaugural Gold Coast DIAlogues Seminar review by Amy Coates from the DIAlogues team! How exciting this month to have DIAlogues visit the Gold Coast and it sounds like it went down at treat! Here’s what Amy had to say…

Set in the gorgeous and intimate setting of Gallery One on the Gold Coast amongst a back drop of Michael Zavros and Sophie Gralton, to name a few delectable artists, the DIAlogues Seminar 04 Gold Coast Debut was less spray tan than the city name would lead you to believe. DIAlogue goers were treated to not only a private viewing of the fantastic artworks and seated on plush cow hide designer furnishings, (note the authors love of cowhide, animal print is so this season – we love the MOO!), but two very fantastic speakers were being offered up for the nights festivities.

Needless to say after the requisite wine, catch up and general envy over the Gallery One Exhibition, Vicky from New Age Veneers, our glorious Gold Coast DIAlogues Debut sponsor, revelled us with her fantastic new range of environmentally friendly textures. What more could a designer ask for? Not only did Vicky show us some exciting images but she followed through and answered a few hard hitting questions from the audience. Damn that spreadable flame index!

Jason Bird from Luxxbox was our first DIA-logger for the evening. He regaled us with his tales and misadventures on how he has survived the design industry for the last 20 years to become a local and international success in the commercial furniture and lighting industry. As Jason mentioned, we all feel a little lost when we first graduate. How do we then take the next step, make money from our ideas, do what we love and still be able to generally survive and eat something other than the standard two-minute noodle typical university student fare? We all know it’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears with more than a few disappointments along the way.

Jason’s journey started in lighting design, becoming grounded and experienced with a large company before branching out and following his own design path to start his design studio Luxxbox. So let’s follow Jason’s design journey, direct to market. It is all very well to have great ideas but great ideas need to be sold. Jason interestingly noted that to become successful locally here in Australia you need to become successful or known internationally. This is a point that I dwelled upon for some time. Are we that wrapped up in the lure and glamour of overseas fashion that we are ignoring innovative design in our own backyard? Our local designers and design talent are getting a better response from an international market than the market they are actually designing for and in. That being said Jason is holding his own.

A series of marketing and networking trips, collective furniture and design exhibitions held with likeminded Australian designers, and furniture fairs has seen international interest in his designs and furniture spike.  For our local furniture hero this also presents another challenge. Logistics. The interest in his product is there, but how to deliver it to the other side of world and still be cost effective?  Essentially, Jason’s solution was to create a global manufacturing business collective. Small local craftsman located in various countries all over the world with the necessary skills and techniques to make his designs and who are also strategically located for ease of delivery. He has bypassed geography making the end result suddenly affordable to the end user.

Finally, Jason leaves us aspiring designers with a few ways to take your product and ideas direct to market. The internet is a wonderful tool and manufacturing techniques, government funding and rapid prototyping are available to anyone with good ideas. Words of wisdom for the aspiring – good ideas sell, don’t discard the drawing board and keep designing more stuff! Oh, and lastly, you won’t need to go ‘Bear Grylls’ on us in order not to starve!

So, Kevin Finn from Finn Creative was our second and final speaker for the night and I’ll try not to give away too much here because we want to see you next week at our DIAlogues Seminar 5 (and the author strongly recommends you do come!). Kevin threw the big questions to the audience. Forty odd designers sat on the edge of their cowhide seats just waiting for the next word to come out of his mouth. Kevin’s agenda is beyond design and about changing his world so he can change the world. This is one of his strongest messages. Everyone has the capacity to be creative. Design thinking is a universal process, available to all and there is wisdom in learning. I’m sure we have all heard these phrases before, but we have never put them in the same context or language that Kevin does in his dialogue.

He was truly insightful and empowering. Design decisions can change the world and we need to think more broadly, of the implications of what we do and the implications of our designs. Design is powerful, design is fun, and design implications can be more important than the actual design itself. There is therefore value in what we do, in our designs and the process that goes into creating them.

This brings to the foray the topic of ‘free design’. According to the above, we should not see value in only the end result but also in the preliminary and long-term implications of our product. In this we should learn from everyone and everything – business and economics to name but two – to tackle the big problems, the everyday problems and change our world, so that collectively the world will change. Just writing and rereading what I have written alone I feel motivated and Kevin’s knowledge and passions are infectious. I’m sure that you will feel this next week too.

Finally, there is an underlying practicality in Kevin’s work that is similar to Jason’s ethos. Everything you do must be economically viable, and don’t devalue what you do. It has impact, so it has value. So, become informed, collect data, your brand is more powerful in someone else’s mouth (eg. Jason Bird’s international success) and become inspired to come to the next DIAlogues!

After five months of amazing design DIAlogue, we are bidding adieu to the Design Institute of Australia’s DIALogues 2011 series with a speaker and panel discussion you will NEVER forget!

So join Kevin Finn (Finn Creative), as he shows you how design thinking will change your life! And stick around for Gretel Bakker (Performance Frontiers) and Sue Savage (QUT), as they discuss ‘Fear and Failure’ in what is sure to be our most lively panel discussion to date!

See you all next Wednesday, 1 June 2011, 6pm at the Corporate Culture Showroom in Fortitude Valley!

Many thanks Amy for your great review. I personally will be there on Wednesday the 1st to lap up my last DIAlogues fix for 2011! See you there!

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