With Love; From Design Matters

A fascinating look at Design Matters' ten-year love affair with design

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Victory Brown

18/12/2023; 6 min read Matters

Looking Back.

A booth at Design Matters DK 2023

Since the first edition of Design Matters in 2015, we’ve paved a distinctive path within the digital design community. As we reflect on the distance we’ve traveled, our role as one of the most prominent digital design conferences comes to the forefront, marking a significant milestone in our commitment to the design space. In our journey through the years, we’ve grown in numbers, impact, and the depth of our relationships. Our long-standing and newly forged partnerships have become a part of our extended family. These collaborations have added layers to our story, and each partner, whether a seasoned ally or a recent addition, has played a vital role in our narrative.

Diversity and inclusion are not mere buzzwords; they are principles that we live by as a team and are also embedded in the structure of our conferences. We understand the importance of representation, and to make our events accessible to a broader audience, we introduced moving the conference to other parts of the world. We introduced DEI tickets for all our conferences to ensure that more individuals, regardless of background, sexual orientation, location, etc, can participate in and benefit from our conferences. 

Our commitment to Diversity extends beyond ticketing to the very core of our speaker lineup. We take pride in curating a program that reflects a rich lineup of speakers from different demographics, providing our audience with diverse perspectives and experiences. This commitment is a testament to our belief that the design space is enriched when it embraces voices from all walks of life. Central to our commitment is the annual development of three themes per conference, meticulously crafted to align with the dynamic changes in the design landscape. These themes serve as the foundation for our conferences, ensuring attendees receive cutting-edge insights and stay at the forefront of industry trends. Yet, even with all we’ve achieved, we acknowledge that more must be done. The design space is ever-evolving, and we are committed to being at the forefront of that evolution. As we continue on this exhilarating ride, we look forward to expanding our impact, making new connections, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the digital design conference realm.

A Year in Design.

A photo of attendees at Design Matters Mexico 

2023 was an essential year for Design Matters, with significant expansions and record-breaking achievements. During this remarkable year, we proudly welcomed two new conferences into our portfolio: Design Matters in Mexico City and Lagos. These additions breathed new life into our mission, creating avenues to further our longstanding commitment to Diversity and Inclusion. Introducing Design Matters Mexico and Design Matters Lagos was like a breath of fresh air, injecting new perspectives, opening doors to novel opportunities, and connecting with designers. These conferences expanded our geographical reach and enriched our understanding of design in diverse cultural contexts. They became platforms to amplify voices and foster creativity on a global scale.

In alignment with our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, these conferences were important in the attempt to push  the boundaries of representation within the design space. The year witnessed a notable increase in our numbers in terms of speakers and attendees. We proudly set a new record, hosting over 450 speakers and welcoming more than 9,000 attendees from a remarkable 50+ countries. This achievement is not just a statistic; it’s a testament to the global resonance of Design Matters and the diverse community that we’ve cultivated. The richness of perspectives brought forth by our speakers and attendees reflects the inclusive environment we strive to nurture.

The demographic expansion witnessed in 2023 stands as a milestone in our journey. With attendees spanning across continents and speakers representing diverse backgrounds, we’ve created a global platform where design transcends boundaries. This achievement is not just about the numbers; it’s about fostering an international dialogue where every voice contributes to the evolving design narrative. In reflecting on the past year’s successes, we are filled with a sense of pride and gratitude. 

Notable Projects.

Regine Gilbert and Victory brown at Design Matters Lagos ‘23

This year marked the launch of two significant initiatives for Design Matters: our podcast Design Tracks and a DEI Design Masterclass program. These endeavors are not just projects but the latest chapters in our ongoing commitment to shaping a more inclusive and diverse design industry. Our journey towards social impact has been an enduring one. Over the years, we’ve dedicated ourselves to supporting, promoting, and fostering Digital Design in an industry that embraces diversity and inclusion. This dedication is not just rhetoric; it’s a tangible agenda penetrating every aspect of our work.

The heartbeat of our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) echoes in the choices we make. From selecting speakers and collaborators to choosing themes and conference locations, our DEI agenda is a guiding force. It’s a commitment to ensuring that our events represent the tapestry of the design world, reflecting a rich diversity of voices and perspectives.

Our DEI Design Masterclass is a testament to the sincerity of this commitment. It goes beyond the ordinary, challenging perspectives and dismantling barriers to make design education accessible to everyone. This masterclass isn’t like your everyday online course; it’s a transformative experience led by industry experts, equipping participants with the knowledge and skills to champion diversity in design.

Simultaneously, our podcast is a strong platform where designers there make a difference  step into the spotlight. We delve into design trends and explore what design looks like in their organizations. It’s not just a conversation; it’s an opportunity for listeners to gain insights from experienced professionals, expanding their understanding of the ever-evolving design landscape.

These projects are not isolated; they are woven into the larger fabric of our commitment to a design industry that knows no boundaries. They represent our dedication to talking about diversity and inclusion and actively contributing to transforming the design landscape. As we launch these initiatives, we invite everyone to join us on this exciting journey towards a more inclusive and inspiring design future.

What’s Next ?

The Team at Design Matters DK on stage

Reflecting on our humble beginnings, reveling in the joys of our current achievements, and envisioning the future, Design Matters stands firm in its commitment to creativity, community, and inclusivity. Our narrative is one of evolution, marked by growth, resilience, and a steadfast promise to shape a design world that is not only diverse but also innovative. A conference for designers, by designers, with designers.  

As we proudly celebrate a decade of making a difference, our gaze naturally turns toward the horizon of what lies ahead. What’s next for Design Matters? The answer lies in the boundless surprises tucked away in our Jackbox. Next year is not just another chapter; it’s an unfolding adventure filled with unlimited possibilities and unexpected delights. 

Join us as we push the boundaries, break new ground, and redefine what’s possible in the design space. Our commitment to making a difference is unwavering, and the future promises even more remarkable contributions to the design world. The record-breaking numbers and the diverse demographic landscape are not just indicators of growth; they represent the collective impact of a global community coming together under the umbrella of Design Matters. As we carry this momentum forward, we remain committed to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the design world. Together, let’s anticipate, celebrate, and shape the exciting chapters that await us in the coming year.

2024 marks a decade of consistency, collaboration, and community, and we are excited to take you along. Design Matters 2024 is a three-day conference to mark our tenth anniversary in style. Design Matters 24 will take place over three days on October 23rd, 24th, and 25th. Get your tickets here

We wish you a Happy New Year from the team at Design Matters DK. 

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