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OFFF Vienna

“OFFF Barcelona is to design aficionados what Wimbledon is to tennis fans, Waken to metalheads, and Art Basel Miami to art lovers. The leading festival is a meeting point for hundreds of artists from around the world. A place to work creatively and experiment together. And to discuss the latest trends in the digital world. Two days long, artists present their latest work in the areas of graphic design, visual communication, digital art and video.”, wrote the publication Horizont.at. (In German: (https://www.horizont.at/home/news/detail/designkonferenz-offf-kommt-nach-wien.html)

Is the written word true? Luckily, we were able to find out for ourselves. A few of us set off on a trip from Ingolstadt, passing through Munich and continuing on to Vienna where we would spend two days at OFFF. We should say upfront: we didn’t attend any of the three workshops, but we did see the breath of talks, on topics ranging from motion design and print media to artificial intelligence. DANIELA LEITNER opened the festival by sharing with the audience her creative techniques and describing how she, personally, strikes a balance between traditional and digital work. It was one of the better talks, we thought, because Leitner showed very clearly how her hands-on mentality and curiosity for the new evolve from one project to the next. We left feeling an inner urge to work with tangible materials. And a strong desire to hear more talks about the hands-on mentality.

After such a successful kickoff, things sadly took a turn for the worse when the second talk began. The poorly orchestrated presentation by London-based studio MOMCO – held out of desctop folders – was a bad surprise. In a room full of people from the creative industry, you would expect, and want, to hear a talk about ‘HOW we managed to do something’ over ‘here’s a 45-minute talk about WHAT we’ve done.’

More talks in the ‘Here’s our portfolio’ style followed – some lasting up to one hour. Some of the attendees had even already heard the talks at OFFF events in other cities.

TYPEJOCKEYS’ amicable and humorous talk on typefaces and fonts was among the well executed and, in part, cleverly delivered ones. The same goes for the guys at Design Studio MUCHO and the gals at HVASS&HANNIBAL, each of which showed their well-designed work in a personal and charming fashion. Perhaps because they also shared with the audience their approach, their challenges and their success stories.

One talk we had high expectations for going in was by Google’s BURTON RAST on the topic of user experience in ambient computing. Rast spoke about his work on the Google assistant, how it processes language and how the rebellious years of his youth influence his work today. What lingers in our minds a few weeks post talk: even a punk at heart can easily get a job at Google.

The real point of this blog post is to provide a short recap of our visit to OFFF. Knowing that, it’s probably beneficial that a few weeks have passed since the festival. Over a cup of coffee, we can reflect on what still comes to mind, what left a lasting impression and what we are still mulling over.

Overall, OFFF was a well-organized event at an appealing venue, with an activities program, delicious coffee and nibbles. But some of the talks simply didn’t speak to us. Maybe it’s because we were more after the WHY and the HOW than the WHAT. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that, amongst the designers, we don’t really see ourselves as artists, and OFFF aims to show a breadth of artistic work.

Zur OFFF Website: OFFF Vienna