Hopscotch Design Festival’s inaugural year began with a great start, and I am stoked that my colleague Shaun (Read his take on Hop Design Fest here) and I got to attend. Designers from all over the country came to Raleigh to share process, ideas, and inspirational stories about design, and more or less how they “made it”. It was an awesome experience that was re-energizing and refreshing. Raleigh and the Triangle are part of one of the fastest growing Combined Statistical Areas in the country. Therefore, there is great potential for HDF to become a solid anchor in the design scene of the South, and with a little elbow grease, the nation and even the world.
Since the Triangle is growing very rapidly and as such, we in the design market here have the opportunity to be taken seriously as a global design players (on par with New York, London, Washington, or even some of the smaller, yet still pivotal markets; Denver, Melbourne, Seattle, etc). We have a long way to go, but if we unite our efforts we can use Hopscotch Design Festival as a vehicle to draw in even more design talent from around the nation. With careful planning and community involvement, we can make contributions to HDF that will help facilitate substantial growth and help shape the Triangle into a legitimate and respected hub for design.
Here are a few ways we can do that.
There were a lot of local designers in attendance and some even presented. I feel like having a true sense of location, and making HDF uniquely ‘Raleigh’ will help anchor it to our area. If it becomes big, what’s going to keep it here? What’s to stop it moving to Atlanta or DC where there are significantly more designers and AIGA members? This is one area where I see great local opportunity. I would propose making HDF more of a collaborative effort of all the design companies in the area by making it a place we can bring our best ideas and recent work to share and show off. An unspoken, friendly competitive paradigm could emerge, and it is through competition where innovation and invigoration truly thrive. Larger local involvement will help solidify HDF’s roots in Raleigh, and will act as a solid footing for when the area truly starts to blossom as a tech and design powerhouse.
Obviously, the best thing the design community can do to maintain HDF is keep attending HDF. But more than simply showing up, we need to offer services to the Hopscotch team and other local organizations to strengthen their foundations to facilitate growth.
It’s a design festival. Share more design.
In the lobby outside the main speaking hall, there were a few tables set up. Attendees could walk through at any time, peruse wares and talk to reps from AIA, AGIA, moog, Jakprints, Little Raleigh Radio, Coastal Federal Credit Union, and others. This little hub acted as central meeting area where people could meet, chat, and share ideas throughout the festival. I envision this albeit understated area filled with tables, coffee stands, music, conversation, and excitement. It would be surrounded by inspirational posters, trinkets, art, and all kinds of designy things to really set the mood throughout the festival.
As local designers, we can use HDF to share our work with others. Whether it’s setting up booths, organizing talks, or just bringing cool stuff, we need to be willing to bring something to the table (if you’ll pardon the pun) if we want HDF to grow into a stronger community event.
Free WiFi is absolutely critical.
Connecting to WiFi anywhere but the not-conveniently-nearby-enough Starbucks was a significant challenge. You could get WiFi access at the Convention Center if you paid $8.95 for each day, but you couldn’t access it at any other venues. Almost everyone I met was there for work, and they all were updating various social media channels, or working on laptops. Many of them expressed WiFi frustrations. Such limited connectivity is a killshot to anyone looking for word-of-mouth and organic online-marketing (let alone an emerging festival).
If HDF wants to be taken seriously as an event in the Information Age, they really need to offer free WiFi with your paid HDF pass. No ifs, ands, or buts. We can help by being willing to pay a premium on the ticket price, and by opening our own WiFi networks to passholders. (Especially those partners nearest to the event).
Get at least 1 big name.
HDF started really strong with a few high-profile speakers. Having these kinds of influential minds speak at our hometown event is critical for invigorating local design firms to attend and in turn, will do wonders for strengthening the community. What it won’t do so easily is get Raleigh’s design scene out there in the national and global consciousness. Having at least one design superstar (hint nod wink) talk will legitimize HDF in the view of the rest of the world. We can help by using our various connections to spread the word and beg bring these people here.
HDF is off to a great start: speakers with impressive ideas (and résumés, too) showed up to deliver true inspiration, and people from all over the triangle showed up to listen in. What we need to do now is show up and share our own inspiration. With a little hard work, we can help Hopscotch Design Festival become something immersive, engaging and incredible, drawing thousands of designers, thinkers and innovators to collaborate right here in the emerging Modern South.
Check out photos from our trip to #hopdesignfest and more on instagram!