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A Fusion of Design, Innovation and Community

Chris Bolton and Janni Valkealahti were exploring Creativity at OFFF Barcelona.

In early April, Barcelona hosts the design conference OFFF, a unique event renowned for its eclectic mix of speakers like Timothy Goodman, Stefan Sagmeister, and Hey Studio. OFFF Barcelona stands out for its diverse roster, bringing together leading figures from various fields to share insights, explore their creative journeys, and discuss stories of innovation and experimentation. The event offers something for everyone, whether they’re interested in graphic design, motion graphics, typography, or interactive art.

Graphic designers Janni Valkealahti and Chris Bolton attended the conference and offered their review and reflections on this year’s lineup of speakers.

Janni’s personal insights

The most interesting talks tend not to be the ones that present impressive work, but instead the ones that tell the story of the process and ideas in an authentic way. Or, moreover, talks that genuinely share cases of learnings of when things didn’t go as planned and how the problems were overcome. 

One of the most insightful branding talks was given by Ragged Edge, A London based branding agency. They were talking about the interesting phenomenon of how algorithms, through their influence on recommendation systems and trend analysis, contribute to a homogenization of design by subtly guiding designers towards similar aesthetic choices and conventions. “We’re allowing robots to dictate our own creative expression” they stated.

On the other hand, an inspirational illustration talk was given by Birgit Palma, an Austrian illustrator and lettering artist who shared moments of her career and work in a genuine and entertaining way. Drawing from her personal journey, she advocated for embracing opportunities and collaborations, even outside one’s expertise, as it’s often in these ventures that the most fruitful outcomes and innovative experiments emerge, pushing individuals to expand their horizons and acquire new skills. Moreover, sharing behind the scenes photos of the rambling working files and art boards presented a humane and relatable side of the creative work.

In general, I expect a talk to be inspirational or educational, in some way that can’t be found just by looking at the company portfolio.

Chris’ personal insights

Having attended a numerous design seminars, this was my first time at OFFF. The draw of Barcelona, early spring sunshine, great speaker line-up and the chance for creative inspiration made it an easy choice to attend.

Besides the showreel presentations of cases or agency presentations, stories of personal struggles dominated many of the talks. There were common themes running throughout many of the presentations: Mental Health, Personal Progress, Positivity & Joy, The Daily Grind/Work Ethic, and the lack of equal gender representation on stage.

I like to go into these events without any preconceptions, so I don’t research the unfamiliar names on the schedule. This keeps the experience more spontaneous and allows for authentic inspiration. My standout talks were by Talia Cotton, whose high-energy presentation demonstrated her code-based approach to branding and design; David Wilson, who transformed his keynote into a unique club-like experience to showcase his animated music videos; and KotoStudio, who shared the importance of optimism in both work and life.


While the official event of OFFF offers a wide range of high-level design talks, there’s also more to it. Beyond the scheduled talks and events, OFFF Barcelona also fosters a sense of community and connection. OFFF has a nice way of offering something for the local creative community by making the event accessible for everyone. All talks arranged on the two main stages are also streamed real time on a screen outside at the terrace, which has free entrance. This brings around a lot of creatives who want to stop by to enjoy a beer and greet people. The spring sun helps create a festival-like atmosphere.

Moreover, you can really spend your time during the conference efficiently as OFFF spreads wider in the city than Disseny Museo, the official event location. Many local design agencies organize open studio events, opening their doors to visitors. Networking opportunities abound, allowing attendees to forge meaningful relationships with fellow creatives, share ideas, and even collaborate on future projects. The festival serves as a melting pot of creativity, where diverse perspectives converge to inspire, challenge, and innovate.

Looking for some early spring sun, inspiration and energy? Start planning for your trip to OFFF 2025 in Barcelona! We’ll see you there!

Speaker Notes

A Sting fanatic who told stories about his personal practice and the process of creating self promotional products with his vibrant ephemeral styled work.

Bakken & Baeck
Digital agency presented the theme of AI and deeply researched its roots in mythical legends.

Koto Studio
Positivity and joy were the essence of Koto’s presentation and how they embrace it in their work and attitude to life.

Timothy Goodman
The vibrant street inspired work which he has used to collaborate with large global brands. He discussed his personal life struggles and the journey to get where he is today.

Art & Graft
They do nice work but the talk could have been 15min instead of 50, the rest was unnecessary presentation of the company itself.

Ragged Edge
Branding 101 – structured with theory, visual demonstration and real life examples, good way to elaborate the learnings with their own work cases.

Birgit Palma
The overall theme of the talk seemed to be that despite doing amazing work and having big clients you don’t have to be a superhero.

Talia Cotton
Design with code embedded in every solution. Energetic talk with personal story embedded with working with Pentagram to starting her own company. Super inspirational!

Stefan Sagmeister
Conversation based presentation on a wide range of themes of society constructs, art, beauty, design and personal work.

David Wilson
Music video director presented/created the most memorable talk of the festival. From his opening format based talk of his origins through to the edgy club show which showed his work. He made 3000 people stand up and dance.

Popular illustrator and 3D artist presented his variety of work and daily experimentation of posters published on his IG. Told personal stories of his beginnings and his own personal struggles.

PJ Richardson
LA based artist and founder of Laundry a design and animation studio. He talked of his personal journey and struggles of mental health. 

Eike König
Artist/Designer talk about his progress from running agency HORT, through to his meaningful work as a artist. He open his heart to the loss of a child and his role as a father.

Man VS Machine
Final keynote of OFFF24. They presented their work and also the concept behind this years festival.

Chris Bolton & Janni Valkealahti

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