Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lisbon and OFFF Design Conference Highlights

I was in Lisbon last week for 4 days of sightseeing and 3 days of the OFFF design conference featuring some of the world’s leading designers including Stefan Sagmeister (best known for carving text into his body with a knife for a poster about suffering for your art), Paula Scher (amazing corporate identities), Joshua Davis (the most purely entertaining speaker), and Kyle Cooper (creator of over 150 movie titles including Gattaca, the remake of Dawn of the Dead, and Seven).

Sightseeing highlights included the Lisbon Aquarium (Oceanario de Lisboa), Lisbon Barrio Alto (where we had our apartment and drank 10 year old tawny port wine most evenings), the Botanical Garden in Belem, Roca Cape Cliffs (the western most point of continental Europe) and Historic Sintra (a UNESCO World Heritage site) including Pena Palace, Pena Park, and Sintra National Palace.

Sagmeister was the biggest highlight for me at the OFFF. He came out wearing a swingy dress over jeans and immediately launched into a story about being at an aquarium and seeing a perverted fish. He talked about happiness and what makes him happy as a designer. He also talked about his project Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far which includes a series of art installations, a book (pictured at left, and yes I own it and enjoy looking through it), and a website where users can upload their own life lessons. He also introduced the logo and corporate design he developed for La Casa de Musica in Porto, Portugal as well as some furniture he is designing while on his one year sabbatical in Bali.

Paula Scher introduced some of her recent projects including the new corporate identities for MoMA and the New York City Ballet. Another highlight was the customized LED newsticker she developed for the Bloomsburg building.

Former professional skateboarder Joshua Davis uses programming tools like Bezier curves and perlin noise to create his colorful designs. He leapt all over the stage during his presentation and talked about his work and inspirations with such a high energy level, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He said he’s been recently inspired by Spanish and Portuguese tiles (such as the ones found in Sintra), Japanese wallpaper, and WWII airplane, especially the leopard print Italian planes (quote: “We go to war, but we go BEAUTIFUL”).

Kyle Cooper introduced many of the main title sequences he’s done for feature films with his former agency Imaginary Forces and his new agency Prologue. He told little stories about each one. My favorite was that for the Mimic titles, a woman from an animal protection agency was paid $500 a day to make sure he didn’t impale any bugs!

Digital Kitchen is another agency that does main title sequences, mainly for television. They did Dexter, House and True Blood, among others. They screened the titles for True Blood and then spent the hour talking about the making of. Apparently the baptism scene was filmed in a lake infested with snakes.

PES showed us many of the innovative short films he does in stop motion animation. I really liked the film where a peanut is drowning in a sea of peanut butter and his film Western Spaghetti where he used everyday objects in place of food (butter = post it notes, sea salt = googly eyes, boiling water = bubble wrap, dry spaghetti = pixie sticks, cooked spaghetti = rubber bands). Go to to watch all the videos. Totally worth it!

Multitouch Barcelona showed their Human Interaction box and Guten Touch - an interactive wall where you can play Space Invaders by throwing rubber balls at the screen (I tried this and failed miserably). They also talked about twitter, saying WARNING: Twittering a moment may reduce your enjoyment of the moment. Ha, ha. So true.

Karsten Schmidt from Toxi introduced, an online tool which reveals cross-connections between conversations on Twitter. He also talked about Faber Finds, a fully automated print on demand service from publisher Faber + Faber that prints unique covers for out-of-print books.

Jason Bruges Studio showed some interative stuff he's developing for the 2012 London Olympics, such as Fast, Faster, Fastest, an installation that lets you run against the moving world record line.

Champagne Valentine mentioned their upcoming show about the Facebook/Internet stalking phenomenon called My Lover the Server which will premiere in Amsterdam and then travel to other international cities.

There were a bunch of other speakers as well, but those were the highlights for me.

And now, here are a couple of pictures.

Roca Cape Cliffs

Pena Palace in the mist


Yan said...

That is so amazing!

Beth Kephart said...

This is just the kind of conference I'd have been so happy to attend. My kind of stuff, absolutely. I never found the heart of Lisbon when I was there, moved up the coast and stayed a few days in Caiscas (scenes from which were appropriated for Nothing but Ghosts)> But Lisbon remains a mystery and I'm glad for your stories.

Lenore said...

That's funny Beth - we were in Caiscas too!

Shalonda said...

How fun! Those pictures are beautiful!

Nymeth said...

Sintra is probably my favourite place in the country. I always tell people to make sure they go there. I'm glad you had such a good time :)

Kate said...

Beautiful pictures. It sounds like you had fun :)

Bookworm said...

That castle is beautiful. That's officially my new house!

Staci said...

this sounds amazing and those photos are beyond words!! Thanks for all of the interesting links and info!!!

Amber said...

I love these exclusive insider scoops. The Pena Palace is absolutely gorgeous!

susan said...

The image is cool and icky. I'm strange about textures and the scales are so too good such that they are icky. I sorely need more art and culture in my life. Enjoyed your post.

Lenore said...

Susan - The cool thing about the book is that it is made up of 10 booklets and the cover image changes depending on which booklet you have up front.

H said...

That looks so great!

Heather J. said...

That castle is GORGEOUS!