”Be prepared to be different! A report from the ZDW Conference that will kick you like morning yoga.”

12. 7. 2021 | Lucie Kubínová

This year’s Zlin Design Week Conference was held online. Since the second week of May, it has been possible to get inspiration from Czech and international designers, marketers, entrepreneurs or even creative industry experts through videos and podcasts. Among the speakers there were all kinds of comments, opinions, tips and motivations. What ideas did Sandra Kumorowski, marketing chair of the Christopher A Dana Reeve Foundation in Chicago, or designer Vasjen Katro, author of the Baugasm project, bring to the conference? Let’s recap.

If you’re one of those creative entrepreneurs who want to be even more successful in your industry, you shouldn’t miss this talk by David Parris. He is a UK-based expert on the creative industries and is also the author of several publications linking creativity to business, commerce, marketing and management. He argues that it is important not to be afraid to differentiate yourself. “Be prepared to be different. Find your place and don’t go with the crowd. And when you find your customers they will want you not only as a creative but commercially.”  

”Fall in love with the problem you’re solving.” This and much more came from designer and mentor Marvan Shamma, who is known for his expertise and coaching in AI, innovation, technology or building high-performing teams. ”Have the right team, believe in yourself and dig deep from the beginning. Go for it head on. That’s the foundation of success.” 

Jakub Ptačin, a designer and communication fanatic (as he describes himself), who runs the creative community Echt, among other things, appeared on the podcast. ”I think it’s a very good reality check of a project if you can entice people to go into it with you at the beginning and do something together basically for free. You can make a prototype even if you have an idea, but for example you don’t know how to code or draw and you can’t convince those people to do it with you – so either it’s not good enough or maybe you shouldn’t do it,’‘ Jakub describes starting projects. 

Ctirad Sára also spoke about collaboration and the importance of communication as the basis of all human relationships. Ctirad is an entrepreneur and one of the founders of BeWooden, a company that focuses on making original wooden bow ties and other accessories from scrap material. Among other things, he co-creates an eco-friendly exercise mat called Your Love.

Jan Klusoň, founder of multimedia career showroom Proudly, adds to the theme of collaboration that it is important to listen and learn, gain respect, motivate and keep people around you. He advises all newcomers to the world of self-entrepreneurship by saying, “Always be authentic in your communication, show who you really are, because that’s how you will attract the people who belong to you.” 

Independent creative consultant and entrepreneur who co-founded The Pop Up Agency in 2012. Maksimilian Kallhed has worked in over 55 countries and his personal mission is to democratize creativity and break the stereotypes that are often perceived as such.

”If you feel that you don’t fit in, that you can’t find meaning, or that there is simply no agency or company where that meaning exists, I think it’s time to create it yourself. Because the beautiful thing about creativity is that there are no right or wrong ways of doing things. All that matters is that you’re happy because you’re offering people a product that has clear value.”

”My best advice I can give you is to go home and think about why you started this. Why are you here and where do you want to go? And do it like it’s your north star, because sometimes you get lost, sometimes you start to doubt yourself. But the WHY makes you unique,’ responded Portuguese entrepreneur, startup coach, and human rights advocate, Joana Lacerda, on the topic of starting your own brands. Joana also heads the business strategy and development department at ThePowerHouse, a company that aims to reimagine and reinvent creative ecosystems.

Business strategy consulting services, business development and professional training are all things Sandra Kumorowski is fully committed to. Sandra has invaluable experience in strategic marketing and continuous self-improvement is an integral part of her role. She believes that the best collaborations are accompanied by trust and the merging of good ideas that come from different sides and, most importantly, different people.

Originally from Albania, Vasjen Katro is a graphic designer who, in addition to the Baugasm project, is also behind the design of several mobile apps, websites and ads.

“If you do what you do only for marketing or only as a business, you get to a point where you start to see it (design) only like that. Of course you need to see it as both, but I personally prefer to keep those things separate and see something creative, some creative intent. Because I love being a designer. I don’t know what else I would do if I wasn’t a designer.” 

Topics such as artificial intelligence or marine, automotive and industrial design. Thanks to these sectors, designer Marek Weidlich is constantly moving forward, and his experience has been appreciated by companies such as Studio F.A. Porsche or Pininfarina.

”A 21st century designer should be a renaissance man who is not only able to design a visually successful thing, but must be able to design it to be functional and transfer it into the 3D world.” 

Another speaker at the conference was Radim Tuček, who is a brand and design consultant for the Czechdesign platform. He is familiar with brands and focuses on projects that require marketing insight. Why does he think it is worth competing?

”Competition is a motivator. When you go into one, you have to go all out, with the motivation that you want to win. It’s a great position mentally, to give your best performance, and even if you don’t win, it can give you a lot through feedback.”  

Along with Radim, our podcast also featured Jan Stanko, who is a member of the Board of Directors of Výstaviště Praha and a consultant in the field of marketing communications. We can only agree that visual design is already an integral part of marketing. 

“In order for design and marketing to work effectively, they must work together. Marketing without design is a bit boring and design without marketing is silent, you can’t see it.”

Dana Prekopová, thanks to her passion for eyewear, has become the owner of IOKO optics. In the podcast, she also talks about starting her own business or working with designers to design and produce eyewear. We decided to end our article with her message, which is simple, but all the more reason to remember it: 

”Stay true to your dream!” 

Aleš Najbrt also talked about his experience as one of the leading Czech graphic studios – Studio Najbrt, which is behind the new Footshop logo. What does it say about cooperation?

“Working with people, setting up a person and the topic of the project are important for us to successfully evaluate cooperation.”

Slogans, quotes or even just words spoken from the floor accompany the world at every turn. Some of them are a bit cliché, others can still give us a kick even after decades or hundreds of years. 

That’s why we keep our speakers’ words in sight: for aspiring and established designers, for people who are new to the industry but want to draw new ideas from it. 

We would like to thank everyone for attending this year’s Zlin Design Week Conference and we look forward to our next collaboration!

All video podcasts with our speakers can be found on our website zlindesignweek.cz.