Images from last week’s agIdeas conference in Melbourne – a full house at Hamer Hall, and lunch for 3000-odd agIdeas delegates at the NGV! Photos by David Simmons and Eric Yong (agIdeas don’t allow photos in the auditorium… snaffled these ones from Design Droplets).

I was SO incredibly lucky last week on two counts.

First, I was very generously given a double pass to attend Melbourne’s annual agIdeas conference – a 3 day forum event which brings together an inspired line-up of creative speakers from all over the world, right here in little old Melbourne!

Secondly, I was super lucky to have the company of one Ms Kendall Manz, a lovely, incredibly smart and articulate young lady currently in year 10 at Kew High School!

Kendall contacted me a long time ago about the possibility of doing work experience with me(!!??). I stalled her for a while as I tried to figure out what I actually do for a living (it seems to vary…!)…. but when the agIdeas tickets came through, I thought Kendall might like to come along and write a little review for The Design Files. Luckily for me, she jumped at the chance! She was fabulous company, and has written a brilliant little review of her favourite speakers – nice work Kendall!

If you enjoy Kendall’s fabulous little write up below, please leave a little comment and let her know! I’m sure she would love to hear from you…!

20 years of agIdeas.
41 inspirational designers. 12 countries. 3 days.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the agIdeas conference, a three day design conference held in Melbourne. Bringing together an eclectically dressed crowd of university students, graduates, designers, small and big business holders, it offers 3 days of mind-blowing inspiration from some of the most remarkable creative people from around the globe. Sure, there were a couple of presentations where I spent the majority of my time looking at my shoes, but the standouts were truly mind-blowing.

Melbourne artist Ghostpatrol

My personal favourite was Ghostpatrol who seemed to me like a deer caught in headlights. He is a young, self taught artist who moved from Tasmania to Melbourne to display mainly his stencil work and fine ink drawings, which are rather whimsical and moody. Despite his faltering words, the thing I liked most about Ghostpatrol was the way he feels about his work – “It’s nice to know that people are going to take my works away (from the gallery) and just look at them for a very long time”.

Collage illustrations by Ghostpatrol

Another Ghostpatrol creation… love this little guy! a Tasmanian devil, perhaps?

Another highlight was Theo Jansen, a Dutch innovator who is truly stepping into new territory. His Strandbeest (beach beasts) are incredible new ‘life forms’ made from plastic tubing and lemonade bottles that walk on the beaches of Holland powered by the wind. They can sense water and dry sand, and stay away from both so as not to be stranded. Theo talks of how he is constantly improving the ‘animals’ as ‘evolution’, and hopefully one day there will be ‘herds’ of different ‘species’ beasts wandering the beaches completely self sufficient. By the time the lengthy applause ends you are actually thinking of these moving sculptures as animals, and I recall myself actually saying to Lucy, “man, I want one as a pet!”

Theo Jansen was AMAZING.

Theo Jansen’s wind-powered Strandbeests in action…

To completely experience what Theo Jansen is trying to achieve, however, you really need to watch these beasts in action (YouTube is abundant with his creations…)


Dean Poole
, a Kiwi designer, probably drew the most laughs from the audience however, in his quirky presentation which left me wondering how exactly to define his job, but knowing nonetheless that he was not too short of genius.

Dean is a co-founder of the ALT group, a design studio based in Auckland, NZ. He talked mainly of their work on the Hudson Gavin Martin law firm, formed by three partners. The theme of the work ALT did for them was things that come in threes. This was displayed everywhere in their offices, website and advertising – a carpet with text reading, ‘Hop Skip Jump’, a cafeteria with ‘Knife Fork Spoon’ written on the wall, and offices named with famous trios like Friends, Family, Fools, or Beg, Borrow, Steal or Equity, Assets, Liabilities and Tom, Dick, Harry.

Creative work for Hudson Gavin Martin, by Kiwi-based design firm ALT group

Along with his work for the law firm, Dean talked about the alphabet (his theory was that C was once separated from O and never recovered), Spike Milligan’s headstone (which reads, “I told you I was ill”) and the fact that ‘creativity is a sport without the umpire’. What resonated most with me though, was the summary of his life – “I like to give the world a bit of a wobble”.

Basically, I learnt a lot from agIdeas. Robyn Beech had the most incredible portfolio. Eamo Donnelly made me realise that the world of illustration is isolating and built on working yourself to the bone. Jacques Reymond is almost the definition of charisma. Andrew Rogers has got to be one of the most ambitious men in the world – asking (and getting!) the Chinese army to help him install a sculpture. Court artist Fay Plamka taught me that when arrested, you should tell the police NOTHING, and the very entertaining Stuart Campbell passed on a discovery his mother told him recently – that you can now have laser eye surgery done in your local shopping mall. Who knew?

Thankyou so much Kendall! What a stellar talent you are. I certainly don’t remember being this clued-in in year 10..!