We hopped over to Dublin last weekend for Offset 2013; three days of talks and debates from a line-up of inspiring creatives. Even at first glance Offset feels a bit different from other design festivals. Its bold identity smacks you in the face challenging you to get stuck in, enthusiastically flouting the usually restrained style used for design events.
Based on this design aesthetic one could be forgiven for expecting a slightly chaotic event, but Offset is one of the best-organised events of its kind we’ve been to. On top of the seamless organisation and euphoric lack of queuing, it was fun, laid back and friendly. But above all, it felt tangibly creative. It’s easy to indulge in a bit of middle class navel gazing at these events, but this one didn’t allow any of that. It had a young, interesting buzz. It felt exciting. And the venue of the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, sitting on the Grand Canal Dock, is an architectural feast that looks different from every angle. Gorgeous inside and out, the venue itself added to the inspirational atmosphere.
There were two things about Offset that really stood out for me and enhanced my enjoyment of the overall event. The first was that the second room — rather than being used for the less well known speakers, was a discussion room. This created a great breathing space from the main stage, and added pace to the day.
The second thing was the variety of styles, disciplines and personalities of the speakers butting up against each other, creating great juxtapositions. As the content and style of each presentation was quite different, it brought fresh perspectives on familiar themes.
There weren’t as many big names on the bill as in previous years, but there were some serious heavyweights, including Bob Gill, Ben Boss, Vaughan Oliver, Oliviero Toscani and Louise Fili. Our highlights from this year are as follows:
Ireland’s Laureate for children’s literature Niamh Sharkey talked passionately about the fight to get to a place worth going, gave fascinating insight into character development from a simple hand drawn line through to a 3D TV character and inspired the importance of respecting, and working for, your audience.