Design Events that are Worth Attending

Photo Credit: © Norman Posselt

Conferences – dusty hotel meeting rooms, smelly carpets, cheap coffee and tiny plates on the buffet. People with nametags, standing around in the lobby, trying to force small-talk on you. And there seem to be only two kinds of speakers: Those who just click through their portfolio, doing a kind of show-and-tell, and those who are obviously trying to sell you something.

It is hard to find a good event that is both relevant and inspiring. And events that you’d like to go back to. In my career as a designer, I have attended a looot of conferences, meetups, and festivals – here is five that I would go back to every time:

OFFF Barcelona

The OFFF conference in Barcelona is huge, crowded and extremely inspiring. You have the chance to see industry legends like James Victore, Jessica Hische or Stefan Sagmeister on stage. Because the conference space is so open, It’s easy to just bump into them. At OFFF, I ran into and spoke with David Carson and Erik Spiekermann – how cool is that?. The OFFF, which is more a festival than it is a classic conference is always booked out – so it’s quite likely you won’t make a talk. You have to queue up for at least 30 minutes before each talk. Not as crazy as SXSW, but still crazy. The good thing: If you don’t manage to get inside, you can follow the talk on a bug screen outside the venue, enjoying a cold beer in Barcelona’s city sun, with David Carson probably standing next to you.

Beyond Tellerrand

The name “beyond tellerrand”, a play on the German proverb “looking beyond one’s own nose”, implies the goal of this conference: To take you out of your everyday business and inspire you. Social entrepreneurs share the stage with CSS artists and psychologist, carefully curated by Marc Thiele. The best thing about a single-track conference like Beyond Tellerrand is that you can fully focus on each speaker – there is no FOMO or running between stages. In the last years, Beyond Tellerrand has created an active community that meets twice a year in Berlin and Düsseldorf, enjoying both the conference and the adjoining workshops, satellite events and warm up drinks the night before.

Product Crunch

Organized by Japanese UX company Goodpatch, Product Crunch attracts inspiring leaders from companies like Adidas and IKEA. The meetup, which is happening monthly in the Goodpatch Berlin office is a big recommendation for people just getting started in UX – you meet interesting people, hear real experts cover well-curated topics and always take home a feeling of lust for work.

Creative Mornings

Originally founded in New York, Creative Mornings has grown into a global event, happening in 202 cities every month. Before you go to work, you will meet other creative minds and listen to an inspiring talk - coffee and breakfast included. What a way to start your day - check it out, there is quite likely a chapter near your town, too.

Forward Festival

This one is still on my list – Forward Festival is happening in multiple cities in Germany and Austria and features a variety of international and local speakers. The teaser sparks a bit of OFFF-feeling, so I am really looking forward to this!

What design events do you think should be included in this list?

Johannes Ippen
About the Author

Johannes Ippen is a designer from Berlin, passionate about French punk rock, really strong espresso and writing about design. Follow him on Twitter for more of design-related essays. Full bio →