Northern Exposure

Top notch design conference with a difference Offset is back in Blighty – and this time it's heading up North to give the good folk of Sheffield a two-day dose of ‘Information, Inspiration and Perspiration’.

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Many people will have sampled the unique Offset experience in Dublin and London in recent years. Next month, Offset is back in Blighty, but this time it's heading north of Watford and taking up residence in Sheffield. As ever the line up is amazing, with 60 top-notch speakers on two stages, accompanied by the usual fun and games in the evenings.

We caught up with Offset supremo Bren to get the lowdown on next month's event – and he's kindly given us two pairs of tickets to give away to two lucky Grafik readers. Read on to find out more:

Tell us a bit about the event – what can people who've never sampled the Offset experience expect?
In simple terms, it’s a creative conference split over two days. We curate two stages with over 32 hours of content, featuring some 60 speakers in a presentation format with interviews and panels. While each of our speakers can present their work as a potted career overview, it will always have a particular focus on process, explaining their vision or philosophy…essentially whatever makes them tick. We are always blown away by how honest and willing to share they are. The result of which is an incredible insight into their practice beyond what you might expect. The response and impact of this on the audience is remarkable. Also it’s surprising how many – despite being so nervous before going on – become raconteurs as soon as the lights go down, charming, funny and insightful. Our pool of speakers comes from a variety of creative industries, as do our audience, and this multi-disciplinary curation creates an openness to look beyond your own world and find inspiration in the approach of others. They represent industry at all levels driving everything from huge global campaigns to awe-inspiring personal projects. We're proud that our stage hosts octogenarian design legends as well as illustrators and designers who are breaking into their careers. The mix is intoxicating.

Why have you decided to head up North, and to Sheffield in particular?
We were aware of the rich design history and traditions Sheffield possesses but like Dublin it has such an exciting contemporary scene. We have visited a number of times over the last nine months and have been so impressed with how visible Design is in the city. And how supported it seems to be by the Council. The number of creative studios and spaces buzzing with activity and located in the city such as Made North, Universal Everything, The ROCO, Sum Studios, The Designers Republic and Site Gallery to name a few. The new Design School at Sheffield Hallam Uni/SIA is an incredible asset to the city too. We have three design grads working with us from the school on the design work for this event and we are very impressed. Sheffield immediately felt like home when we visited and so far we have been overwhelmed by the reception the city has given us.

Apart from the daytime events, is there a good social element to Offset?
Some large-scale creative industry ‘occasions’ tend to be focused around competitions, but we feel it’s vital to offer a non-competitive outlet especially to socialise. So we host a number of events where delegates and speakers alike can let their hair down. In short we like to party. This year we are hosting a special night in The Roco, but no doubt we will be jumping from one gallery to another as Sheffield Design Week kicks off.

Who are you particularly looking forward to hearing speak? How did you persuade Wolfgang Weingart to come over?
Over the years our elder statesmen and women will tend to get the best and most emotional response. To hear a practitioner from your field passionately describe their process and what drives them is exhilarating. So yes Wolfgang is going to be a real treat. I’m afraid if we told you how we persuaded him we would have to kill you. Let's just say Offset has earned its pulling power. I am very excited about the creative directors from agency Droga5 and Jens Kronvold Frederiksen who is the Design Director of Star Wars LEGO…that’s definitely a personal highlight.

If you could sum up Offset in three words, what would they be?Information, Inspiration and Perspiration.

We have two pairs of tickets to Offset in Sheffield on 21 and 22 October to give away to two lucky Grafik readers. To be in with a chance of winning, just send an email to with SHEFFIELD in the subject box, telling us who you would most like to hear speak and why. Deadline for entries is 28 September 2016 and you can check out the Offset speakers here. And if you can't wait, you can buy your tickets here.

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