“Off Grid 18,”the second-annual international experiential graphic design event created by the Wellington Chapter of SEGD, transpired over four days and four cities in late February. The theme was “Experiential City,” which posed the question, “What is the ‘experiential city’ and where does design fit in?”
Off Grid events kicked off with the Sydney Chapter on February 22, in their first event of the year, which was sponsored by Wizardry Imaging & Signs and featured three design studios: THERE (Sydney, Australia), Urbanite (Sydney, Australia) and PUBLIC (Vancouver, British Columbia). Nick Banikoff of BrandCulture moderated the discussion, entitled “What makes a great design?”
It was an opportunity for the experiential design community to learn more about the processes and craftsmanship that went into creating five 2017 SEGD Global Design Award-winning projects. Charlie Bromley, Head of Environments for THERE showcased two projects for Knight Frank and Rabobank, both created in collaboration with Geyer. Susan Mavor, Principal Communication Design and founding partner at PUBLIC shared “Start an Evolution” Donor Recognition and Carlo Giannasca, Head of Environments at Urbanite (Frost* Collective), showed projects for Goodman and Macquarie Bank.
“I was honored and excited to be invited to speak at Off Grid 18. It was particularly special to have been able to add a quick stopover in Sydney on the way to Wellington,” Mavor says of the event. “I had heard how welcoming and warm Aussies are and my short experience there did not disappoint.”
Brisbane and Melbourne
Both the Brisbane and Melbourne chapters hosted events on February 23. In Brisbane, dotdash hosted the "Wayfinding Ideas Workshop" for 50 intrepid attendees who braved the torrential rain to talk, brainstorm and sketch out their ideas.
The Melbourne event, “Uncover Melbourne,” was hosted by the chapter in conjunction with local firm Büro North. Uncover Melbourne was designed to be a walking journey from North to South through the heart of the central business district. Attendees were capped at 40 and included designers and students across graphic design, urban design, interim design, planning, signage, experience design, art and architecture.
Along the way, they heard from five speakers and stopped at buildings, places and spaces that demonstrate innovative and noteworthy examples of placemaking and urban design. Five projects were discussed as part of the walking tour: RMIT New Academic Street, Guildford Lane, Federation Square, Yarra River and National Gallery of Victoria.
“This was the launch and first event for the Melbourne Chapter,” writes Justine Lesmana, SEGD Chapter Chair and Designer at Büro North. “‘Uncover Melbourne’ was positively received, and attendees were excited to see what other events and themes our chapter will be looking to do/explore in the coming year.”
The main event was spread over two days and multiple indoor and outdoor locationsacross Wellington, New Zealand. The program included talks, workshops and experiences and was split into four parts: People, Story, Culture and Brand. Each of the four parts was anchored by a lead speaker and the event began by the organizers reversing the traditional conference format to open with a panel discussion, which effectively opened the discussion of what the experiential city could be.
The organizers and hosts, Wellington Chapter Chairs Nick Kapica and Jo Bailey (with help from four other volunteers) planned in musical, culinary and cultural experiences—even providing an all-encompassing interactive mapfor participants. "This year, the event builds on the idea that sparked Off Grid 17," explains Kapica. "We took an event that was very much about the travel as the conference itself and we shifted the focus to the city."
Speakers included Louise Kielgast of Gehl, Sean Perkins from North, Susan Mavor of PUBLIC, Matt Checkowski from The D4D, Soren Luckins of Büro North, Johnson Witehira of Made by Johnson, Ben Foreman from Wrestler, Justin Lester the Mayor of Wellington, Matt Dillon from NEC Smart Cities, Tim Rastell of NEC New Zealand, Brad Smith from Method and Cyrus Qureshi of Victoria University.
Locations included the Wellington Zoo, Biz Dojo, NEC, Holland Street, Ngā Taonga, Starta, Leftbank, Pickle & Pie, La Mason, Ngā Kākano: The Seeds, ProjectR, Te Wharewaka o Peneke and the Wellington Museum. Off Grid 18 in Wellington took place in a total of 15 venues over two days.
By all accounts, Off Grid 18 was a great success and there is plenty of interest in another event in 2019. At 130 attendees, the participation was double that of the previous year’s event. Total participation, including the satellite events, topped out at 285, 23 speakers and 19 locations.
“I hope SEGD Wellington decides to go for year three with Off Grid and highly recommend others make the trip to Wellington to take part,” says Mavor.
“I was really impressed with the amount of activity around Off Grid—our community is really starting to connect in new ways and that certainly puts a smile on my face,” comments Stephen Minning, SEGD Board Member and CEO of PAM Wayfinding. “My hat’s off to the organizers, especially Nick Kapica. His ongoing commitment to the profession is an inspiration to our community.”