Great Semi-Permanent Things

9 Aug 2018 by Sarah Turner


When thinking of great things that have helped form me as a designer, the top of the list would have to be Semi Permanent. For those who haven’t heard of it it’s a “global creative and design thinking platform”. Which all sounds very fancy, but in my own words is a multi-disciplinary creative conference that is (to put it simply) AH-MAY-ZING!

Of course busy schedules and budget restrictions can put a dampener on things; but I would strongly recommend you to go check it out one day. Whether you consider yourself “creative” or not, Semi Permanent will inspire you, excite you, and send you out into the world refreshed.

Still not convinced? Here’s five reasons why I love Semi Permanent:

1. The Diversity

The first thing you’ll notice about Semi Permanent is the diversity of the speakers. So much more than just graphic designers, there are photographers, videographers, fashion designers, typographers, experiential designers, fine artists, poets, musicians, product designers, restaurateurs, creative directors, brand strategists, smell scientists, AR, VR and MR specialists, animators, body architects, web architects, actual architects – creators of all kinds!

I’ve been to six Semi Permanents in my life (yes, I counted them) and there has not been a single talk that I have missed. Why? Because even though it’s a three-day mammoth marathon of mind-blowing mish-mash, you learn something from EVERY speaker. Not into surfing? I still learned something. Don’t even know what a body architect is? Neither did I, but I do now!

2. The Creative Community 

With the diversity of speakers naturally comes a diverse range of viewers. Hundreds of creators, coming to gain inspiration – just like you are yourself. It’s such a great feeling to be in a room of like-minded creatives (who may be in fact be nothing like you at all). The point is you’re there, they’re there. They’re just as immersed as you are, just as hungry as you are. And that vibe feels pretty dang good.

3. Future State

Semi Permanent hosts a long-standing segment they like to call ‘Future State’. It’s usually made up of a series of talks from the big movers and shakers (like Google, Uber, Airbnb, Neflix) disussing the big changes that our society is going through, and what the future of design (and indeed creativity itself) looks like.

This is where the big weird thoughts start creeping in; and like a lowly art student you ponder your small part in the complexity that is the universe. Wow, that sounds deep. Some of the heavy themes that have been tackled in Future State to date are the importance of diversity, authenticity, inclusion, empathy, AR, VR, MR (all the Rs), data influencing design, the ethics around AI, the ethics around social media (and yes, this was prior to the infamous Zuckerberg testimony before congress).

4. The Big Names 

I’m not one to throw around names, but when I’ve had the privilege to listen to some of these people speak, I think it can be forgiven. David Carson. Kate Moross. Jessica Hische. Tobias Frere-Jones. Plus representatives from Pentagram, Instrument and all those other big-name companies I listed in #3.

It’s really not about the names. These well-known creatives give us all an insight into their creative processes, to their wins, to their losses, to them as a person and as a company. Their achievements somehow seem both attainable and unattainable at the same time. And like I said before, you learn something meaningful from each one of them. Something you hope to implement in your own life, even if it’s only to the smallest of degrees.

5. The Kiwi Host

Te Radar. If you’ve never had the pleasure to watch this guy perform in person, this is a great way to do it. Hilarious, creative, intelligent, and a raging ginge. What more could the audience want? He keeps the audience going in-between talks, with joy and enthusiasm and some welcome light relief. Pondering the future of wellness through technological innovation getting you down? Well here comes Te Radar in a funny hat. You’re welcome.