D&AD Festival – Looking Back at Previous Years

D&AD Festival – Looking Back at Previous Years

With D&AD Festival 2020’s plans scuppered by Covid-19, I thought it would be a great opportunity to look back on what previous years have taught me. Here are some of my thoughts from one of my favourite design events…

During May each year, D&AD hold a creative festival in Shoreditch, London. Of course, I’ve thoroughly yearned for my dose of design inspiration from the D&AD festival this year. With my tickets booked for 3 full days, I was super excited!
Alas, Covid-19 scuppered the plans…

Within the past week, D&AD released their briefs for the ‘New Blood’ Awards. This process sees many brands around the world getting involved. They release briefs for students and upcoming designers to respond to.

It’s really a fantastic concept and I always look forward to seeing the creations of each participant. Having read this year’s briefs, I just know the creations and offerings will be ground-breaking; especially following the turbulent year we’ve had.

I thought it’d be nice to rewind with a glimpse at what all my years of attending the D&AD Festival have shown me…

It’s the time of year I always look forward to – Creatives from around the world gathering at the fabulous Old Truman Brewery buildings in Brick Lane, London.

Each year is another chance to bask in the glow of design amongst my fellow creatives, with inspiration practically oozing from the walls of the D&AD Festival.

Despite every attendee being along the same creative ‘road’, each person’s interpretations of the talks lead them down different paths. As desperately pensive as it sounds, I really miss being surrounded by my fellow creatives. You can really feel just how full to the brim with enthusiasm & unique ideas everyone is – I’ve missed that.

Whether you’re a creative thinker, more of a ‘doer’ or a craftsperson, the three-day-long celebration of creatives has been championing our community for years. In fact, D&AD have actually been inspiring and uplifting the very finest in design & advertising since 1962!

Being a non-profit organisation, D&AD always strives to motivate our future creative generations. In more recent years, I’ve loved seeing D&AD encouraging our industry to campaign towards and channel our creative energy into a future which is not only more sustainable but fairer for all members of society. I don’t have to tell you how our design community is a pretty vibrant one! It always delights me to see the hoards of members arriving for each talk and session. The community is always growing with immense speed.

The D&AD Festival and sister awards ceremonies have contributed so much over the years – Awakening new creatives, appreciating the most underrated designers & inspiring our community!

Once again, D&AD created a line-up of speakers, workshops, masterclasses, debates and talks that were inspiring, thought-provoking and quite simply wonderful. 2019 in particular was a fantastic year to attend! With Professor Green discussing his struggles mentally to conversations with Danny Boyle, Typeface workshops & UX crafting sessions, embracing the world of design, advertising, fashion, film – There was an abundance of activities to witness at the 2019 D&AD festival, but each year prior has been fantastic too.

Regardless of how different our experiences and ideas are, our creative processes will always place such a key role in our designs. Within every great design, there is the work of a truly determined creative mind! It’s absolutely imperative that we continue to be obsessed with the process! I guess that is why I personally come away from the D&AD festivals feeling so empowered and inspired – Something that I’ve really missed from 2020.

The D&AD festival is so enabling and offers insights to creative processes all over the world. It’s your window to the most ground-breaking ideas. As an attendee, you’re invited in to discover and learn. If you’re fortunate to attend for all 3 days, the rate of which you’ll learn from some of the most talented designers in the world is really overwhelming – But in the absolute best way! Providing perspectives from various different genres, experiences and backgrounds, the D&AD festival always strikes me as incredibly inclusive – I have no doubts their plans for 2020’s events would have only ever maintained this momentum.

Some of the learnings from 2019’s D&AD festival were the importance of innovating, developing and adapt at the rate of which new trends and tech advancements arrive. It’s a fairly predictable learning but, in hindsight, 2020 has presented the world with so many obstacles. As I’ve spoken about on the blog before, some companies and creatives have responded wonderfully to 2020’s ‘offerings’… They’ve solved many problems, trivial and/or really quite serious. 2020 has been full of surprises and it’s only fair that the design world responds with its own surprises too! It’s what keeps things exciting, right?

Oh and… No glimpse back at a D&AD Festival would be complete without mentioning the incredible food and drink on offer. 2019, in particular, saw me try my first ever poke bowl and it’s only fair it features in this round-up! INCREDIBLE

Each year, after attending the D&AD Festival, I’m always bursting with enthusiasm, inspiration and an absolute burning passion for what I do.

Every design problem that could ever arise becomes something you just HAVE to solve.

Fair enough, the train journeys home might involve a Pret cookie or a tray of sushi from Spitalfields market.
But, believe me, my mind is positively buzzing with ways I would/can/will change the world through MY designs.

A particular taking from 2019 was that it’s all about the process. I like to think it’s a LOT about the people you inspire along the way – In the same way the speakers, my peers and the creators at D&AD inspire me each year!

You can watch a video here put together by the D&AD Festival team of 2019’s event.


Looking retrospectively at my learnings at each D&AD Festival, I’m filled me with a strange buzz of emotion, inspiration and passion! I’ve got a hoard of photos from the all the past events including some workshops so if you fancy it, I’ll share those too soon. In the mean time, I hope you stay inspired, ask questions where design is concerned and keep creating!

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1 Comment

  • Della October 31, 2020 11:36 am

    It’s lovely to look back at events you’ve attended and this festival sounds amazing! I hope soon things can go back to normal and these sort of events will become a thing again x

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