In 2024, I want you to follow my lead and live your life in colour. Drop the grids, drop the ladders, and navigate this world of colour, of no wrongs and rights just lessons, experiments and creative expression that moves the world around you forward.
This year I want to speak on stage at the Design Conference 2024 to the army of creatives young and old that come to learn and be inspired by designers working across Australia and the world. With S1T2 I have found my creative home, a unique place in the world where I can be whole-heartedly creative, using the creative side of my brain to work to abstract metaphors, human connection, creative experimentation to result in a unique digital experience, used around the world.
In the last few years, I have led the design on my dream projects, and maybe every designers dream projects. Projects that help the world, that creatively challenge me, that let me put my soul into them, and that allow me to soak up the endless fountain of talent that is S1T2. All whilst nurturing my own personal creative practice, creating art and cultivating creative community. Young designer’s often only pay attention to their CV skills to get a job, but I want to show people that we must not let go of the thing that made us pursue a creative career in the first place, and how I use my creative roots in my international projects today.
Using colour to allow young people a safe space to learn about the internet
Meet SAM you AI companion. SAM and the internet knows more about you than you think.
As a digital designer, this was a dream project. The end result was a story-based game app that teaches young people in developing nations around the world how to use the internet safely. In a time where the internet and its pitfalls are more accessible than ever, together with S1T2 we could use our years of digital experience for good, teaching young people how to look out for scammers, groomers and cyber-bullys. It was an app that was to be tested first in the Solomon Islands, and our discovery sessions put us face to face with those Childfund youth workers. It felt really important to me 1 as a digital creator but 2 as someone born in India, with young impressionable cousins just like the ones we were serving to help guide them those youngsters as they were my own family.
I want to show the audience of the Design Conference how we used story telling to teach, and how my personal journey of colour and art led the art direction and style of this beautiful interactive experience with S1T2.
Colour is not linear, it is subjective, and our gradient landscape became a good setting for learning about the internet.
Rebranding a school and empowering a community that I’ve grown to love
Being a Sydney sider of 5 years now I know all about the beaches, the avo on toast, the blonde surfers of Bondi. But being an Indian immigrant who grew up in multi-cultural London, 5 years in Sydney has really taught me about the beautifully diverse communities of Western Sydney. And last year I got to fall in love with this school and community.
Being used to big international projects, it took me by surprise how much I would love this project, empathising with the teachers, parents and students that make the school happen. Following my Muslim creative director’s lead, we took an unapologetically Islamic approach to a modern cutting edge rebrand for one of Sydney’s iconic Islamic schools. Soon to be announced, launched and on our website.
I want to inspire young creatives in the audience to embrace their roots and personal stories in creating brands and stories for their future client.
Putting myself in other’s shoes to fly to them to the roof of Dubai Expo 2020
The only interactive piece on Al Wazl Plaza dome, the world’s largest projection canvas.
Sometimes there are design problem’s that have been solved before, and their answer lie in books, websites and forums. For others we need to tread new ground and use trial and error.
In 2020 Dubai was hosting the World Expo and had build the worlds largest projection canvas on the Al Wasl Plaza dome. Amongst the world’s best creative studios, S1T2 were the only studio in charge of it’s only interactive experience.
When I first heard our idea I couldn’t quite believe it: ”So you want people to take their photo on this photo booth… and the their face will be morphed onto the mascot character… and then fly to roof of the dome, with their other family members for a photo?”
But it was true! And I was in charge of the user experience of the ipad and photo booth. What came about was a long and winding journey of testing, iterating and using my human intuition to really pay attention to how people interacted with our piece to get the correct final result.
This would be a great example to young people on how sometimes we need to be in-tune with our own human processes to find the answer we need.
We underwent a long testing process, brining people in off the street to see how intuitive our design would be for thousands of (not necessarily english speaking) visitors
Being the least digital digital designer in the world
Although I am a digital designer for my work, my real passion, that I spend out side of work is living colourfully outside of the screen. I love to experiment with colour, paint and paper and I want to show designers that just because your job is digital doesn’t mean that there is so much that grows from your experiments outside of the screen.
Taking mundane, dark life drawings and turning them into colourful art for my walls. Using my garden and spray paint to create art, Christmas cards and textures for brands. And generally nurturing and cultivating this practice outside of work to keep my creative energy inspired throughout the year.
Young impressionable designers, especially the art-loving creative ones, need to hear the digital designer of 15 years encourage them to embrace the mistakes and experiments of the non-digital world.
Cultivating community and empowering young creatives
When I brought together all the creative friends I’ve made in Sydney to celebrate my art and everything that inspires me.
As I have grown into my career, I have naturally found myself giving advice to new designers and young aspiring creatives. I take this on as a personal duty that someone in the world there like me is creative and has all the potential to have a creative career but may give up at all the natural blockers to a creative career path.
From mentoring job-hunting designer over lockdown, talking at universities, hosting events with The Design Kids Sydney, curating talks, exhibitions and podcasts connecting the diverse creative minds that are my friends with the young impressionable designers of today.
When I was young, I was like many of you reading this article, qualified from university, sitting in my immigrant parents home in the outskirts of the city with know idea how I fit into the design world. I want to show you how I try to make design accessible to new people and inspire you to inspire others too.
Sharing creative stories of my creative friends, because you need to know the black, white, Indian, Aussie, British creatives that create in this world.
Inspired by life to look at life’s gradient
A huge lesson that I want people to take is one of my biggest life lessons. Happening when I was 22, bang in the middle of my first job and the spur to me getting my first London design agency break.
With an degenerative eye condition called Keratoconus, my vision had been deteriorating in my late teens and early twenties, mostly manageable with contact lenses, I was in and out of eye hospital until one day my cornea burst and I had to take break.
I really was looking at a future with potentially no vision, and that spurred me on to quit my job, and take up an internship with a London design agency whilst only being able to see out of one eye. Two corneal transplants and 10 years later, my eyes and design have taken me to the other side of world.
With the thought of losing my vision, I looked at my life and my talent differently. I forgot the idea of a career ladder and the linear progression of a CV, and just wanted to experience being a designer. To be in the room full of creatives, to be around all the cool young people of East London, and even if it was a 3 month experience that I remembered for the rest of my life. To have lived it and breathed it. I think everyone else can learn from this. I’ve found my best career progression when I followed my creative path, and did what felt creatively right more than what looked good to other people.
Let’s all start looking at what we want to do this year, through the idea of maybe we won’t have our eyes next year. Is that job title what you will remember in the future? Or when you’ve got nothing left to see, will it be the people you’ve inspired and the little bit of you that you left in this world.
Don’t forget click on the link below to like my post, which counts towards my vote to speak at The Design Conference 2024.
Lot’s of love, Francisco