Revisiting one of europe’s biggest festivals of creativity during a global pandemic
About six years ago I stumbled upon the
OFFF Festival for the very first time. I honestly can’t remember if my wife and I were planning to visit Barcelona again anyway –after our prior trip during or if the festival itself was the reason to return to Catalonia in the first place. Either way, the years thereafter I made sure to rush for a so-called ‘super early bird ticket’ as soon as they dropped La Mercè in 2013– –a year in advance– and then planned a vacation around the date of the event only much later.
Three years in a row I marvelled several of my design heroes and discovered the stunning work of a myriad of creatives previously unknown to me. Buzzing with sheer creativity the festival to me always has been an inspiring melange of motivation
(»that shit is fucking amazing, now THAT’S why I want to work in the creative industry in the first place!«) and disillusionment (»that shit is fucking amazing, why is my stuff not THAT great?«), sending me back home with the strong urge to learn more and create better time after time.
In combination with the wonderful
Museu del Disseny the festival takes place at, the beloved city of Barcelona all around and the beautiful beaches of Sitges nearby, I found it to be the perfect way to regenerate and recharge my creative batteries. As a consequence, my rather random first attendance at OFFF became a tradition near and dear to my heart and a holiday trip I looked forward to full of joy beforehand every year.
© OFFF / 2016
Once two of my colleagues from
Wagnerwagner went along and together we wrote about our OFFF experience in-depth –in german– in a series of articles on Medium afterward.
After I had to resell my ticket for 2018 because of a friend’s
badly timed wedding, the following year was the first time since my primal attendance in 2015 I didn’t buy a ticket in the first place and skipped the festival intentionally, albeit with a very heavy heart.
All the bigger the anticipation when I bought a ticket
–super early bird, of course– for the 20th Anniversary past year and booked a corresponding ten-day trip with my wife shortly after. But you know how 2020 went down eventually. InOtherWorlds
After rescheduling at first and eventually canceling the event completely last year, its organisers decided to move to the digital space for 2021 from the outset. Even though there were no other real options
( —hosting a huge event with people from all over the world would’ve been a reckless decision WTF UEFA?), I was bummed out a bit.
And despite the apparent effort, the team spent on the digital infrastructure in an attempt to make the experience more of a virtual festival than just a series of live streams, the presentations themselves were exactly that in the end.
The admittedly cool entrance to the virtual conference rooms …
… hid a rather underwhelming digital main stage
This is how most of the presentations looked like basically
To make up for it
–and probably due to the saved costs thanks to the speakers not traveling– this year’s festival lasted twice as long, taking place over the course of six instead of the usual three days, resulting in a vast amount of presentations. Since the festival happened in May already and I watched as much of the program as possible back then, I am by no means able to recapitulate much of it in great detail anymore.
The good news is that there are some recordings available, so instead of trying to summarize the presentations I’ve watched, I’m going to give you a brief rundown of the ones I remember being especially impressive and/or inspiring for you to watch yourself. Unfortunately, I’m not able to link individual videos here, you have to search for them on the
Tendril Future Deluxe Alistair Simpson Studio Dumbar Saam Gabbay Omelet Universal Everything Joshua Davis Adam J. Kurtz
Sadly one of my favourite talks, Stefan Sagmeister speaking about art as opposed to design and his wonderful project ‘
Beautiful Numbers‘, isn’t available for some reason, similarly to the closing presentation by GMUNK.
Stefan Sagmeister speaking about good design
Let’s feed the future
The film ultimately focuses on the human condition nested within a cult of robotic shamans called The Vi, and examines the deep emotional connection to loss and rebirth.
GMUNK was presenting some of his astonishing work
–which you are able to find , but in addition, he was talking about a short movie called ‘DECIMA’, which is going to debut at next year’s OFFF. You are able to watch its teaser on online Vimeo and I can’t wait to see the final short on the big screen when the festival is going to be held on-site again from 5-7 May 2022. [fingers crossed]
This year’s digital event was an interesting experience with a lot of amazing work on display
–as usual, but ultimately there was no chance it could’ve been an adequate substitute for the original face-to-face experience in Barcelona, to be honest.
Ticket sales for next year just have started, guess who got himself an ‘early bird’ ticket already.
June 17th 2021
I came to the same conclusion as Massimo and many other designers—I don’t need a huge range of fonts of questionable quality to choose from, I only need a few high quality ones. So I created my own list of 5 fonts that I use most often.
Not sure, if I’d be able to strictly limit myself to five fonts like
Massimo Vignelli, but I certainly have a bunch of fonts I keep coming back to more frequently. Guess I’m going to make a list of my favourite ‘five fonts’ covering the cited criteria and then try to use them whenever I start working on something new, as Matej Latin suggests in All you need is 5 fonts.
May 11th 2021
Over the past few decades, we have helped build a corporate culture that systematically prioritizes short-term gains over longer-term product health.
A well written, intriguingly designed online essay by Fabricio Teixeira, Caio Braga and Emily Curtin about provoking change through the work we do every day as digital product designers. I totally agree,
the world needs a tech diet.
April 12th 2021
The Accessibility Developer Guide is an initiative of Access for all, Swiss Foundation for technology adapted to people with disabilities. … The vision behind the Accessibility Developer Guide is to bridge the gap between providers of websites and users with special needs.
Accessibility Developer Guide addresses a very important, but unfortunately often neglected component of website and web application design. Based on the experience of users with special needs as well as the knowledge of experienced web developers it provides help with the setup of tools, the basic knowledge needed for development and code examples to get things started.
We shape our tools and our tools shape us. We are a product of our world and our world is made of things. Things we use, things we love, things we carry with us and the things we make. We are the product of our world, but we are also its designer. Design is the choices we make about the world we want to live in.
… When we are gone, all that’s left of us is what we’ve made. The things you and I make may not leave a visible footprint on the earth, but everything we make takes up space, creates noise, competes for attention. What do we want to spend more time with? What do we want to shape us? What nurishes us? What do we want to see grow? I think we all have an idea. I think we all have something we want to make for no other reason than we want it to exist. Something small but meaningful. … Things that nudge the world a little bit in what we hope is the right direction. We got to put a dent in the universe. This is a great job.
April 8th 2021
… a starting point for a more expansive, and more critical discourse on website design. The engagement of liberal arts, humanities and engineering present in the architectural discourse is more timely than ever. Considering and expanding upon these aspects when building and critiquing websites may help us fulfilling our responsibility as contributors to the global digital infrastructure today.
A very interesting and quite different approach to think of
web design as architecture. It actually makes complete sense considering the ten associated statements by Malte Müller, though. Definitely something to keep in mind for future online projects.
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ps.: You look good today. ✨