Design: Semi-Permanent force

Semi-Permanent, a world-recognised design conference bringing together a smorgasbord of disciplines, returns to Melbourne next weekend for its 10th year.

The two-day event, held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, offers experts in everything from fine art to film effects and brand management to product design.

International highlights include Penny Martin, editor-in-chief of London-based glamorous biannual fashion magazine The Gentlewoman, and Gert Jonkers, editor of Fantastic Man, plus legendary filmmaker and photographer Mike Piscitelli. 

Local talent includes Carlton North-based tattoo artist Bugsy, photorealist painter JKB Fletcher and designer Beci Orpin. 

Semi-Permanent co-founder Murray Bell says the organising committee constantly keeps its eyes and ears open for global trends and talent when bringing together the list of speakers, joining the dots between disciplines.

“Nowadays it’s not uncommon for a graphic designer to also have skills in photography or animation,” he says. “We choose our speakers with that in mind, so when you come to the event you can see the closeness between all these fields.”

Bell is excited to bring Martin and Jonkers together, with his fiancee an avid reader of The Gentlewoman, and him devouring Fantastic Man. “Just the way they are put together, the simplicity and attention to detail, the photography and the design, I think is amazing,” he says.

He also rates LA-based creative company Ignition, which creates buzz campaigns for major movies such as the striking The Dark Knight Rises billboards and Prometheus’ prologue trailers on the technology and design website TED. 

“They swoop in behind the announcement of these ginormous films and come up with fun, interesting strategies beyond the obvious,” Bell says. “It gives you a bit of a clue as to what the film’s about and a vested interest in seeing it. I find that quite fascinating.”

Orpin, a Brunswick West-based textile design RMIT graduate, will give a run-down on her design career, encompassing fashion design, homewares, stationery and even art direction for a kids’ DVD, as well as the launch of her first craft book, Find and Keep, to be released in November. 

“You should be involved in as many things a possible,” she advises. “The more you’re involved in, the more opportunities will open.”

Orpin says Semi-Permanent offers fantastic inspiration for budding designers. “You can see a whole lot of expertise in a short space of time, especially if you’re interested in a creative career but you’re not sure what you want to do. Even if you do, it can offer different ways of thinking.” ■

Semi-Permanent is at MCEC, September 14–15. Details: visit semipermanent.com.

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