This year’s Semi-Permanent design festival (‘conference’ is too dull a word to describe the gathering of hundreds of designers) is lining up to be the biggest yet. Organiser Simon Velvin of The Church says its success is due to the need for New Zealand designers to collaborate. “Semi-Permanent really evolved out of necessity,” he says. “We’re pretty isolated down here.”
The Church, which launched its Auckland office with Semi-Permanent, saw it as a way to help young designers, but has also found it’s led to collaborative projects with some of the top graphic designers in the world. “It’s not designed as a money-spinner,” says Velvin, “but we do get emails on the Monday after Semi-Permanent from designers who say they are ready to work harder that day than any other in the year, because they are so inspired. And what can we say? When a product is cool, it will sell.”
The growth of the event means The Church has been able to secure a range of top designers to speak at this year’s event, including Austrian–American Stefan Sagmeister, who carved text into his skin to visualise the pain of design projects (before you ask him, yes, it hurt real bad).
Semi-Permanent was first launched in Australia by Design is Kinky and is now run in cities worldwide. The Church bought the Enzed rights and launched Semi-Permanent Auckland in 2004. It’s grown from a one-day event with 450 attendees to a weekend event with 1,500 this year. Where next? Velvin would love to extend Semi-Permanent from graphic design into more genres—such as photography and cinematography—and add workshops and seminars. But for now, the international speakers, most of who are coming exclusively to the Auckland event, have some surprise stories for Kiwi designers.
“They’ve walked through life and been confronted with the world, and said: ‘This doesn’t make sense to me,’ and turned the other way,” says Velvin. “They’ve said: ‘I’m going to take a risk.’ And they are the most creative people in the world. They took a punt. It’s great for designers to be able to connect with that and go for it—sometimes taking a big risk bears the most fruit.”
$890 of goodies and a party invite for the right rookie
Here at Idealog we heart design and talent too. Now we want you to join us. If you fancy yourself as a rookie designer, create a visual explosion representing Idealog. If we like your work, we’ll tell the world about it, and the best one will be crowned Idealog Rookie Designer of the Year. You’ll have your design created into the official 2008 Idealog T-Shirt, receive a series of Semi-Permanent Curvy books valued at $200, $500 of Gordon Harris vouchers and a $190 ticket to the event and after-party. Email your design and soul by 5pm on Friday, July 25.