Hello Kickstarter! I’m an educator based in Belfast with a passion for design. I hope to share that passion with you at a new conference called Break, which explores what design might be if we begin to question what I call ‘the edges of design’. The conference and associated fringe events run from 12-14 November, 2014 in the lovely city of Belfast.
I’m delighted to have lined up eight world class speakers from right across the spectrum of design, to inspire you:
- Sarah Richards (Head of Content Design, GDS; GOV.UK)
- Nik Roope (Hulger, Plumen)
- Hamish Muir (MuirMcNeil, 8vo)
- Dan Rubin (MOO, The Impossible Project)
- Jane ni Dhulchaointigh (Sugru, Fail Better)
- Alex Klein (Kano, Kano at Kickstarter)
- Adrian Shaughnessy (Unit Editions, Design Observer)
- Matt Webb (Berg, Little Printer)
Break’s speakers will leave you feeling challenged and invigorated. They’ll inspire you to question your understanding of what design might be if we move beyond the silos of specialism and, instead, embrace the wider continuum of design.
Sarah Richards is Head of Content Design at the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS). GDS’s design for GOV.UK won the Design Museum’s 2013 Design of the Year Award and a highly coveted Black Pencil in the Writing for Design category at the D&AD Awards. A highly respected content designer, Richards’ thoughts on content as design are challenging our understanding of the role content plays as a core part of design.
Nik Roope is Founder and Executive Creative Director of Poke, an award-winning digital agency. Roope’s work has won multiple awards. Roope’s Plumen light bulbs - beautifully designed low energy light bulbs – won a highly sought after D&AD Black Pencil in addition to winning the Design Museum’s 2011 Design of the Year Award. Roope’s work is held in the MOMA permanent collection, The Cooper-Hewitt collection and the V&A collection.
Hamish Muir is one of the world’s most highly respected graphic designers. A founding partner of award-winning design consultancy 8vo, whose work for Manchester’s Factory Records, and numerous other internationally respected brands, is celebrated worldwide. 8vo’s typography journal Octavo (1986-1992), remains, without question, one of the world’s most respected typography publications. In 2010, together with Paul McNeil, Muir co-founded MuirMcNeil, a project based collaborative whose activities are focused on exploring parametric design systems.
Dan Rubin is the former Creative Director of MOO.com, one of the world’s most innovative digital companies. A highly respected photographer, with a considerable following on Instagram, Rubin has consulted with The Impossible Project, a grass roots initiative to develop instant film for Polaroid cameras (founded when Polaroid ceased producing instant film for Polaroid cameras in 2008).
Jane ni Dhulchaointigh developed Sugru - derived from the Irish word ‘súgradh’ for ‘play’ – whilst studying at the Royal College of Art. As ni Dhulchaointigh puts it, “The future needs fixing.” This spirit of sustainability has seen ni Dhulchaointigh speak at numerous respected conferences including WIRED and 99U. Her single-minded spirit is inspirational and her thoughts on failure and fixing are hugely necessary.
Alex Klein launched a Kickstarter in 2013, hoping to hit a $100,000 goal to realise his vision for Kano, a computer which you make yourself. By the time his crowdfunding appeal had finished, he’d hit $1.5 Million ($1,522,160 to be precise). Kano is re-imagining computing for young and old alike, it’s an incredible project that rethinks computers – and their users – for the 21st century.
Adrian Shaughnessy is an internationally respected design critic. In addition to his writing for some of the world’s leading design journals - Eye, Creative Review, Design Observer… – he is the co-founder of Unit Editions a publisher of high-quality, affordable books on graphic design and visual culture, which has, in its short existence, deservedly captured a sizable share of the design publishing market.
Matt Webb is CEO at Berg, the design studio turned tech startup he co-founded in 2005. An internationally respected speaker on the role of design and technology in culture, Webb has been instrumental in exploring the growing importance of ‘The Internet of Things’. Webb’s work, in particular Little Printer, places design at the heart of a growing connected digital culture.
I believe it’s an exciting time to be a designer. Design is, once again, joining the dots and, with the right thinking, I believe we can embrace it to create incredible opportunities.
My goal with Break is to encourage attendees to widen their frame of reference, to see design in the widest sense, and becoming better designers in the process. In addition to the core conference day, I’ve lined up some exciting fringe activities, which offer an unmissable reason to visit Belfast in November.
Fringe activities offer additional value for money and, just as importantly, a space to meet other, like-minded people, making new friends and perhaps future colleagues.
An Afternoon With Shopify
We’re delighted to be partnering with our friends at Shopify to once again run An Afternoon With Shopify. We’ve lined up some great speakers who will entertain you and challenge you the day before the conference:
- Elliot Jay Stocks (Creative Director, Typekit)
- Verne Ho (Director of Design, Shopify)
- Ryan Rumsey (Experience Design, Nestlé)
Situated in The Black Box, nestled in the heart of Belfast’s historic Cathedral Quarter, this fringe event is ideal for attendees who’d like to spend a little more time in Belfast and offers a great opportunity to meet other like-minded designers.
A Rather Large Tutorial
An evening talk at The Belfast School of Art, A Rather Large Tutorial sets the scene for the following day. It’s optional, should you prefer to explore our local bars or spend time with friends.
A conference wouldn’t be a conference without an afterparty. I’m delighted to be partnering with MailChimp to offer you an afterparty where the drink will be flowing, be it Guinness or Ballygowan, and the craic (as we say in Ireland) will be mighty. Sláinte!
The City and the Venue
Belfast is rapidly establishing itself as a key player on a world stage: Andy McMillan’s sterling work with Build needs no introduction; the team at Typecast are taking the wonderful world of web typography to new heights; and Cargo’s recently unveiled Brewbot is rightly winning the praise it deserves.
Belfast is firmly on the map, right where it deserves to be. We think you’ll love the city, the people are warm and friendly and by keeping the numbers at the conference low (around 350 attendees) we hope that Break will give you a chance to make new connections, through its intimate feel.
Join us at a venue with a difference. The Assembly Buildings in Belfast is a recently restored church with beautiful stained glass, gargoyles, and a wonderful church organ. We think it’s a beautiful space that has real character.
Belfast is easy to get to, with two international airports served by numerous low cost airlines. We’ve lined up discounts with some of the city’s best hotels, we’ll list these on the conference web site once we, hopefully, hit our funding goal.
The Edges of Design Ebook
In addition to the obligatory schwag, all attendees at the conference will receive a copy of an ebook we're compiling called The Edges of Design. This book will bring together new thinking on design by a host of writers whose opinions we respect. Writers we’ve confirmed, include:
If you can’t make the conference, we’d appreciate your support by buying a copy of The Edges of Design, a beautifully designed publication that will challenge and inspire you. We’ll be publishing further details of writers in our Kickstarter updates, we think you’ll appreciate their thinking.
We’ve worked hard to keep tickets affordable. Thanks to our generous sponsors we’ve been able to keep prices within the reach of all. As an educator, it’s important to me that students have the opportunity to hear internationally respected speakers and we’ve priced student tickets accordingly. (Student ID required.)
We’ve kept our next tier of Constructivist tickets priced low to attract freelancers. We know how important it is to get out of the studio and meet others, we hope Break’s pricing helps with that. For those who’d like to spend a little more to support us, we’re working on some lovely rewards, all inspired by the edges of design approach of the branding.
At the De Stijl tier, we’ve created some lovely additional rewards, including an Edges of Design T Shirt, a set of Edges of Design Collectors Cards, and a unique generative laser-etched aero-ply totem as a memento of the conference (we think you’ll like it). At the top Bauhaus tier, we’re working on a lovely two colour silkscreen print featuring Dieter Rams’ gorgeous RT 20 radio (above). In a signed and number edition of 30, we’ll be hand printing these with the assistance of one of our MFA graduates, Pauline Clancy. We think you’ll like them.
Who am I?
I’m an educator, based in Belfast where I teach at The Belfast School of Art. Break is an extension of the teaching ethos I’ve developed through my MFA Multidisciplinary Design programme.
The MFA embraces design in the widest sense and our graduates have gone on to achieve great things all over the world: Paddy Donnelly runs Lefft, when he's not building wonderful iOS games at Wee Taps; Lee Munroe leads product and user experience design at Mailgun; Katherine Penney works at Heatherwick Studio; Jonny Campbell co-founded Brewbot; Danny Turley founded Performa Sports; and Kyle Gawley and David Turner are currently building Get Invited, re-imagining what ticketing might be.
What ties these graduates together is that they embraced design as a continuum, allowing them to see beyond the edges of design and build fantastic companies. This is what I hope Break will also achieve.
We have lots of ideas for really special things that would be great for both sponsors and attendees, and we’d love to discuss these further. If you’re interested in sponsoring Break, we’d love to hear from you. We have sponsorship tiers at Gold and Silver levels, which include tickets and your branding on all associated Break material.
We’d love to partner with sponsors to make Break a reality and ensure it delivers to its full potential. Drop us a line at @breakconf and we’ll work with you to create something awesome.
Risks and challenges
Although I have experience running events – having been involved in running fringe events at Build and other conferences, and organising the Ulster Festival of Art and Design – I know this will be a significant challenge. However, I believe the team I have in place is ideally equipped to make Break a reality.
I'm delighted to be working with my friends at Little Thunder, who are heavily assisting me. Both Tim and Gab, in addition to running Little Thunder, work with me at The Belfast School of Art, teaching the next generation of interaction designers. I'm also being assisted by Paul McCormack, the final pillar of our teaching team. Lastly, I'm being assisted by my wife, Cara, who is both an internationally respected silversmith and a mean project manager.
With our combined £20,000 Kickstarter goal and the generous contributions of our sponsors we have enough to create a fantastic conference, I hope you’ll back me and my team in making Break a reality.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The Break team – Chris, Cara, Tim, Gab and Paul – all teach at The Belfast School of Art, so education is a topic that’s close to our hearts. We want to do all we can to support students and have priced student tickets affordably to ensure you can attend.
We know that some of you will be graduating in the next few months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a student ticket for Break. You can get a student ticket if you’re a student when you back our Kickstarter. All we ask is that you bring your old student ID with you in November.
We hope to see you then!
Break runs from 12-14 November, 2014.
The main conference day is Thursday 13, November, which will run all day, followed by our afterparty until late.
We're running our 'An Afternoon with Shopify' fringe event the preceding day, Wednesday 13, November. Our Shopify event will kick off right after lunch on the Wednesday, so you could feasibly fly in on the Wednesday morning to keep your costs down.
On Friday we'll have informal meetups and, perhaps, some time to recover from the afterparty. If you're well behaved at the afterparty you could fly back out on the Friday morning. Belfast and its surrounding environment is a lovely visitor location, so you might want to spend some time – perhaps even stay for the weekend – to explore.
If we're successfully funded, we'll be putting together a Belfast Gazetteer, filled with information on where to go and what to see while you're in the city.
Lastly, we have deals with hotels, which we'll confirm once we hit the funding goal on Kickstarter. We'll publish these in full should we – hopefully! – make it.
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