My usual gripe with design talks is that they can often be a little one-dimensional. Most are used as an opportunity for a portfolio brag or an exercise in name dropping when all I really want to hear about is the people and processes behind the glossy images and flashy websites, and what I can learn from it and take back to my own studio.
Thankfully, the talk from Steve Edge of Edge Design for West England Design Forum at Arnolfini, Bristol earlier this month was exactly that. Scrap the clichés, Edge, undoubtedly one of the biggest characters in the design world, provided just over an hour of hilarious anecdotes and genuine practical advice, without the use of any visual aids.
With his colourful past and personality (reflected in his wardrobe of floral blazer, pink shirt and coloured trousers that would give George Ferguson a run for his money), the self-styled ‘Lord of Shoreditch’ spoke passionately and openly about his experiences and the incredible journey he took to reach the heights he’s achieved with Edge Design.
Steve went back to his childhood and painted a fantastical picture of the bohemian home where he grew up. His obsession with “glitter, magic markers and plastic scissors”, crafting things by hand and a family pet chimpanzee called Primo (with his penchant for getting drunk and throwing roofing tiles at passers by) was hilarious and gave a real insight into the man behind the design.
He also described his trouble with school and education on account of his dyslexia and how at the age of 15, after winning the European Young Artist of the Year competition and attracting the attention of one of London’s top design agencies, he was offered a job as a junior designer and ended up working with Jim Henderson and The Muppets.
From there, Steve went on to discuss his work with Star War’s director George Lucas, his two weeks spent with Salavador Dali, and how he injected fun into brands such as Wickes and Fortnum & Mason. As he explained, “Fun never degrades a company.”
Having grown up in a household full of “conversations and stories”, it’s Steve’s ability to tell a tale and his understanding of how important it is for a successful brand to do the same (“brands are always stories”), that has no doubt driven Steve’s success as a designer. There’s a boyish charm and honesty to Steve and the stories that he tells, which hold your attention and make you eager to hear more. With his infectious personality, it’s easy to see how his clients buy into him and his brand long before they start to discuss the design work.
Below is a short talk that Steve gave as part of the TEDxLausanne event last year entitled ‘What goes around, comes around’. If you’d like to see more of Steve you can visit his blog Steve Edge World. Enjoy.
Images courtesy of Pixillion.