The Top 4 Lessons I Learnt From Semi-Permanent 2016


I just came back from the most incredible weekend up in Auckland at Semi-Permanent and I haven’t even fully processed everything that my brain took in over the last few days but I’m here to share it with you! If you weren’t able to make it to the conference, or maybe you did and just want to see what things stood out to me, here are the four things that impacted me the most!


As Paul Stafford from Design Studio explained in the first talk of Semi-Permanent, “the logo is just the fullstop at the end of a really long story of the brand you’ve built.” I already knew that there is more to a brand than a logo, but throughout Semi-Permanent, I was constantly reminded of the importance of a complete brand experience and the power that this can have to sell products, tell stories, and even change lives. Chris Fjelddahl said that “brands, products and spaces speak. Branding is heading towards seeing how these speak together.” A complete brand experience includes these elements and allows them to work alongside one another to create powerful results. There is a lot of work to be done to create a truly impactful brand experience like this and if we commit to taking on this process and doing it to it’s fullest potential, we can be confident in the results that we wield. I saw so many amazing pieces of design at Semi-Permanent which were testament to this idea, which leads me to believe that it is 100% worth the extra effort. It’s also important to recognise this lengthy process when analysing the rebrands and logo designs of other companies. Before jumping on a new logo or brand identity with our harsh criticism, give it time and understand that the people behind these designs have more than likely been through a rigorous design process and made very calculated decisions in order to get to this point, which means it has been done for a reason.  


I walked out of Semi-Permanent 2016 feeling more confident in myself and inspired than I ever imagined that I would. Discussions of female empowerment, self-love, risk-taking and creative health turned the focus from the art to the artist, from the design to the designer. Cleo Wade poetically stated that “your life is in a constant state of design, which means you can always redesign it” reminding us that “you are not only the designer but the masterpiece as well.” Her statement that “only you can say that this can stay, this can go” lined up perfectly with Maria Scileppi’s thoughts that “every day is a choice (and not making a choice is a choice)” encouraging us to look at our lives objectively, evaluate how we feel, and take a risk to make a change if needed. Change can be our best teacher and always leads to improvement so we should not be afraid to move on and start over if that’s what we need. Maria kindly slapped us with the truth that “we are our biggest obstacle” so we need to learn self-love in order to recognise what we need and make those changes. Cleo talked about having acceptance, intimacy and honesty with ourselves as part of self-love, and that embracing this can help us to design our best selves. I don’t know about you, but I think I could do with a bit more self-love, and Semi-Permanent helped me to identify this, and have the confidence and practical knowledge to do it!


Tea Uglow wisely suggested that “everything starts with a question,” Wes Grubbs explained that in the world of data-driven design, they often raise more questions than they answer, and Mimi Gilmour comforted us by saying that “it’s okay to not always know the answers.” Curiosity is a wonderful thing and I think that just asking one simple question can be the start of something incredible, even if you haven’t got the foggiest idea what the answer might be, or if there’s an answer at all!


There was a plethora of weird and wonderful design and art showcased at Semi-Permanent, and it all just seemed like so much fun. There were pieces of architectural jelly art, tea towels made into chickens, Cockey rhyming slang prints, interactive walls, inflatable sculptures of stomachs and much, much more. Being creative can often be challenging, but that doesn’t mean it has to be dull. Dean Poole encouraged us to “be conscious of your silly thoughts, because they can take you to very interesting places” and i’m feeling pretty excited to let my brain run wild, think of some stupid things to try, give them a go and learn quickly from whatever happens.

I hope that you enjoyed hearing about the top 4 things that I took away from this conference, and if you went along too, I’d love to hear what you learnt! And whether you did or didn’t go, what are your thoughts on these topics? Comment down below or tweet me! Also, here are some snaps from the event for you, and keep an eye out on my Youtube channel on Wednesday at 5pm for my Semi-Permanent vlog!