Seeding Ideas in Berlin – Part 1

Hello from Berlin!

I’m here for the TYPO BERLIN 11, Europe’s biggest graphic design conference, happening over the next 3 days, May 18-21. I arrived a little early to spend some time here and get over the invariable jet lag. People from all over Europe, and even a few brave North Americans, came here. This year’s attendance is about 1000 people. That’s a lot of designers. A lot of black.

Welcome to Berlin, all creative people!

My friend, Erik Spiekermann, and me

Berlin holds special memories for me. This is my fifth visit here. In 1998, I took a sabbatical from my job at Karacters Design Group and took a position here at MetaDesign, on the invitation of Erik Spiekermann. It was a glorious time to be here — the wall had come down years earlier, the whole of the city was a construction zone, and new ideas and inspiration were everywhere. I learned so much from my time at Meta — how to run a big design firm (at that time Meta was almost 80 people here), how to work as a team on large scale projects, how to create cross-disciplinary teams, and yes, more about how to be a better designer. It was almost like going back to school for an MBA! And best of all, I got to really know Erik, one of the most influential designers of the last 20 years. He has a way of sharing his knowledge with you, so that you feel that anything is possible. That experience was the most influential factors that led to our hey day at Karacters, when we grew to three offices and 30 people, in addition to a body of work I am still proud of today.

But one of the most memorable things was my free time, when I got to explore all the corners of this wonderful city. Not understanding any but the most basic German, I realized all my senses were heightened, and I learned to rely on them much, much more. I saw things in such a clear light. My head was full of ideas and creativity. Refreshed and relaxed, I came back with so much more than I’d ever thought.

The city has changed a great deal even since my last visit in 2004. I am staying in Mitte, one of the oldest quarters of the city, and one of the most creative too, with headquarters of the big interactive, design and advertising firms all around me. Many of the trends and new ideas are started here, it’s like a creative laboratory. I guess what I’m saying is, come here when you can!

More from the conference, TYPO BERLIN, tomorrow when it starts. There will be some live streaming of some of the bigger sessions, take a look at the typoberlin.de/blog for more info, and follow the discussion at twitter.com/typoconf #typo11.

Tchoos, as they say here in Berlin!

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