Digital Arts / Come together to learn: the secrets of the best design talks, conferences and courses

This week Crowd gave our two pennies worth to a great article from Lisa Hassell at Digital Arts about the secrets of the best design talks, conferences and courses. Find out what Crowd, It’s Nice That, Let’s Be Brief and Shillington College had to say about meeting, sharing and talking in the full article here.

Or to hear what we had to say, keep on reading….

Conversations in the crowd

Occupying the ‘exciting, slightly awkward space between education and industry’ Crowd Talks launched in 2013, as a design discussion event thathosts talks across the country, aiming to ‘break away from the traditional lecture format’.

Inspired to develop their own event following a panel discussion evening they organize for their degree show ‘Now What’ in 2012, Brighton University graduates Roz Edenbrow, Laura Gordon, Matt Dreyer and Jake Evans were united on ‘the feeling that the most interesting design conversations happened after the lecture, not during it.’

Observing a shift in the student-tutor-university relationship that seemed to reduce ‘experimental, boundary pushing education,’ largely as a result of tripling tuition fees, the group realised there was a need to encourage ‘a more active discourse around art and design culture, both in relation to education and industry - and the links between the two.’

“We promote an approach to learning that strikes a balance between professional skills and the motivation to reinvent that profession,” enthuses Laura. “I don’t think it’s British politeness that holds people back from developing or sharing their opinions – I worry it’s a product of an education system that doesn’t nurture open debate from a young age.”

“We’re big believers in learning through questioning,” says Roz. “We get to hear a range of opinions from different people with different backgrounds; we hope this gives people a wider view to help them form their own opinions and work out where they stand on an issue.”

Taking a relaxed and informal approach when talking to both students and practitioners, they seek to involve the audience in debate.

“Two way discussion is key to Crowd, and this marks us out from the rest of the design lecture landscape.” says Laura. “We’re passionate about involving and learning from students, not just imparting advice. The informal atmosphere allows us to have a different conversation than more established events – our favourite parts of Crowd are when people are arguing, laughing or being unexpectedly profound.”

While the audience are not pressured to get involved in the discussion she notes that generally there is always enough debate to get people talking, ‘people always have something to say.’

Admittedly they have experienced varying levels of success with the format. “It’s a spontaneous, evolving venture; the events rely massively on the mood and feeling of both the audience and panel which can be risky, but it means that when it works well the discussion takes on a life of its own.”

Scheduled to take the stage at Pick Me Up in May, the team are also looking to the future, strengthening their ties with Universities as a way to link up with young designers and ‘be actively involved in the future of design education’.