Graham Smith
Graham Smith
14th November 2014

Only hours ago I returned from Belfast having attended Break, the conference that asks “What is design and how is it changing?”.

When Andy McMillan, after 5 long, exemplary years retired Build, Belfast was left with a large, conference-shaped hole; one that ex-Standardista and regular Build attendee, Christopher Murphy, was keen to fill. Having never run a conference before, however, he was unsure of its viability. One successfully funded Kickstarter later, the plan was put into action.

Christopher collected an excellent and varied collection of speakers covering a range of design practices. The highlights of the day, for me, were Sarah Richards, Dan Rubin, Jane ni Dhulchaointigh and Alex Klein.

Sarah revealed the staggering amount of work that went into crafting the all-new gov.uk site: “The best place to find government services and information”. Their mission statement was clear, “Simpler, clearer, faster”. Also, no more pages telling you how to keep your bees.

Jane and Alex spoke about their experiences taking their products to market, taking care not to skip on the gory details. I’ll confess to welling up a bit a couple of times during Jane’s talk. Touching, heartfelt and inspirational.

And Dan. Well, I’m always a fan of watching Dan speak. He has an unrivalled stage presence. This time he gifted us with a rant about the mounting hyperbole used in product marketing, where product companies are far too eager to sell you on the magic; the life-altering properties, long before us, the public, have even had a chance to gauge this for ourselves. A trait akin to the snake oil salesman of yesteryear. Apple, his favourite company, and favourite to many, being one of the worst offenders. A symptom of misplaced pride, perhaps.

I’ll just say, lastly, a hearty thank you and well done to Christopher for all his work. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time.