Meaningful Experience Design


Meaningful Experience Design

As humans, and whether we realise it or not, meaning is everything. It feeds into the life choices we make, be them big and seemingly small – from working at a particular company and living in one suburb over another, choosing a partner to choosing a toilet paper brand, or buying produce from a farmer’s market, rather than the supermarket down the road. We make choices at a deep, emotional level and are influenced by what connects with our values and humanity.

Meaning is also something we crave.  We feel its absence – from a soulless job, to a shallow conversation to a faceless corporation or a mass-produced product.

And that’s why – as a experience design agency – we only craft and curate experiences that are imbued a deeper purpose and, yes, meaning. 

So, what do we mean when we talk about crafting meaningful experiences? 

The Wildwon focus on meaningful experience design emerged from two observed trends:
1) A shift to The Experience Economy (Pine & Gilmore, 1998) and the new millennium’s Experience Society (Schulze, 2007) where people value less instead of more, uniqueness instead of standardisation and making instead of consuming. And of-course the mega-trend that is user experience design.
2) Audiences seeking more meaning – in their interactions with people, in their choice of products, in what they invest their time and money in, from their employers and infused in their everyday lives and experiences. This may manifests as people ‘shopping their values’ or choosing ‘slow travel’, for example.
We spotted a gap, and set out to create meaningful content and rich experiences that created a deeper, more authentic and transparent engagement with organisations and people.We applied our backgrounds in user experience design to live events and their digital legacy or ‘echo’, with groundbreaking results.
Today, ‘meaning’ and ‘experience’ are measures by which we evaluate all of our ideas and concepts.
We ask ourselves: have we balanced the deep purpose of an organisation (what we want to achieve) with the making of a rich, real and human experience for our audience that answers a deep need (what we want to do ‘for’ people)?
Using our unique methodology, we pride ourselves on creating true ambassadors for ideas and organisations.We have seen it time and time again: provide a meaningful experience with an organisation or brand, and you will have a loyal customer, follower or employee forever. 

Breaking it down: Meaning & experience

‘Meaning’ and ‘experience’ conjure different things for different people.  To an interaction designer, an experience is about a beautiful product and interface. To someone who works in tourism, an experience is about a memorable holiday. To someone who works in retail, it’s how a space feels.

We look at experience in the broadest sense - any touch point you might have with an organisation, brand or community. This is more and more common amongst those who focus on experience design and integrated brand experiences. The difference for us (of course) is where it meets meaning.

What does it look like?

At Wildwon, a meaningful experience could be a 1200-person conference discussing the big issues facing Australians (Progress, 2013, 2015 & 2017). Or a close-knit community event upskilling environmentally conscious entrepreneurs (Office of Environment’s Start Something workshops, 2016). It might meet a forward-thinking event about purpose-driven business (Purpose, 2015 & 2016) or a coming-together of design and technology professionals (Link Festival 2015 & 2016). It might even mean partnering with an organisation, like Charter Hall, to create and sustain a culture of diversity, inclusivity and real connection amongst team members. 

We design plenty of experiences at Wildwon – and you can read more about them here – but the important thing is we colour them with meaning. 


The 5 big mistakes to event planning and how to do things right

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The 5 big mistakes to event planning and how to do things right

In the events world, organisation is the key to success and every detail counts. From nourishing nosh to creating the right kind of atmosphere, these are the rules we swear by at Wildwon.     

1. For the love of food

How many times have you attended a work event only to be met with soggy sandwiches or canapés that spell disaster for the nearest white shirt?

Average catering strikes all too often, ruining events with flavourless food, a lack of nourishment or sugar highs (and, hence, devastating lows).  

The answer? Plan ahead. Check in with your venue early on. Is in-house catering a must? Or can you select your caterer of choice? If you have the freedom, choose a caterer that suits the style of your event (i.e. easy-to-eat, locally sourced, creative or vegan-friendly). Work with them – or trust them completely – to craft a menu that's on-point. If your venue's in-house caterer is a must, don't despair, just think smart. Work closely to co-design the menu and ensure you don't face a cost blow-out or quality nightmare. 

Whatever you do, DON'T serve unhealthy or stodgy nosh. Sure, it delivers a sugar hit and satisfies temporary cravings, but it also saps energy later on. Food should be fresh, healthy and delicious. We also recommend going local and seasonal where possible. 

Why it's important: Meal breaks aren't just a chance to fuel up, they're an opportunity to ponder ideas and mingle with like-minded peeps. Breaks can set the mood you're after and carry attendees through the day's swells of excitement, inspiration and reflection.  

Pros in the biz: Sydney's Black Star Pastry and the The Little Marionette were dream teams to work with for vibewire's fastBREAK breakfast series. For wholesome catering in Melbourne or Sydney, we turn to Lentil As Anything. We're also huge fans of the 'crowd farming' effort from TEDxSydney 2013 and the fresh, ethical catering from Dan the Man Cooking

2. It's all about the vibe 

Next time you're attending an event, think about the atmosphere. As in a) the feeling you get when you walk into the room and b) the levels of energy you have throughout the event. Atmos or 'the vibe' is what brings the event to life. It tells you if the next few hours (or days) will be great... or mediocre.

Think about the last event you attended. Was there a buzz, a warmth? Did it feel like a community was being established? The art of creating an atmosphere should inform every choice you make – from how people are greeted and flow through the venue, to the quality of speakers and curation of the guest list. Because of its complexity, atmosphere is often the last thing organisers give consideration to and this is a huge mistake. The best experiences are designed with the attendee's journey in mind. 

Sometimes it's easy to work out how the event designers, speakers and facilitators have impacted participant's energy levels. Other times, the results are less tangible. If you're reviewing an event you worked on, it may be useful to draw an 'energy map' plotting how attendees' energy levels rose and fell across the event. (It can be as simple as the sketch below.) Remember every good event needs a mix of light and shade. 

Lights and crowd atmosphere at Forage SF's Underground Market

Lights and crowd atmosphere at Forage SF's Underground Market

Sketched energy map for evening poetry event

3. Walking the talk

In 2013, I attended a climate change abatement conference. It boasted an incredible speaker and guest list of the decision-makers and leaders on climate change. Unfortunately, the heavy-weight speaker list also meant the majority of speakers (and many attendees) took a long-haul, carbon-intensive flight to Australia to attend. Double-edged sword, one might say. 

Another case of "Do as I say, not as I do" was a sustainable food conference I once attended that failed to serve anything but the usual plastic-packaged conference venue schtick. Many events in the sustainability space still produce enormous amounts of paper waste, despite the amazing digital solutions we now have at our fingertips, solutions that can be applied to communications, sponsorship, programming and way-finding. 

Truth be told, there are so many dangers to calling your event "sustainable" that it's almost enough to put you off the label altogether. Attendees will happily point out an incomplete recycling bin suite, plastic water bottle on stage or your lack of a bike valet (yep, it's a thing).

At the end of the day, there are plenty of ways to improve  your standard practice, but it's almost impossible to run a zero-impact event. As long as you know you're doing everything you can and staying true to your stated values, we think you deserve a thumbs up.

4. Choosing a venue

The budget of an event dictates the venue, so you mightn't have a whole lot of choice. But regardless of your spending situation, be sure to consider the following:

  1. Does the venue have a contracted caterer? (Refer to point 1)
  2. Could you go a little left-of-centre?  

There are countless venues in every, or town for that matter, that are off-beat (in the good kind of way), but still very well set up. Conference centres might be the easy option, but an unexpected venue, like a town hall, historic trust building or even an outdoor space, creates a far more atmospheric affair. Venue choice speaks volumes about the brand of your event and organisation, the atmosphere you want to create, and the businesses you choose to support. 

Check out our list of interesting, off-beat, fun (!) and sustainable venue choice in Sydney for some inspiration.  Or why not construct a teepee or tent a la Do Lectures?

5. Doing it all yourself

You're not going to be the best at everything. There are so many components and moving parts to an event. Consider a theming partner who specialises in design or materials that relate to the conference. Look at ways you can allocate budget to creative partners. The Secret Garden Festival, for example, provides $2000 grants to artists enabling them to design and decorate areas of the festival. On Progress 2013, we handed over theming responsibilities to A&D Projects who created a stunning installation that engaged communities of school kids from around Australia. Better than our in-house origami skills, that's for sure.   

Why do we care?

Real world, human interactions are the best place to start when building a community, seeding an idea, raising profile or changing behaviour and attitudes. At Wildwon, we care about the quality of events because we're invested in the outcomes. Immersive, sensory and considered experiences are powerful catalysts for change, and we're passionate about helping ideas, individuals, knowledge and organisations grow.

If you'd like to work with us on your next event – get in touch here.

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What is this thing called Purpose?


What is this thing called Purpose?

Thoughts on Purpose 2015 and why you can't unlearn the wisdoms you now hold.

My friend Jackson Nash, who can be found at his permaculture haven in Kauai, once wrote, “Our gift and curse as humans is our incredible consciousness. We are aware, and that is the greatest and worst thing we’ve got going for us. Because we can clearly see how well we could be living, how politely we could be treating one another, how incredible life could be.” This came to mind as I sat in the back row of Purpose’s opening plenary, furiously scribbling the smarts of each speaker to grace the stage.

I am a freelance writer. I am my own business. I work with other businesses to craft sentences that convey a feeling, a certain idea, in order to sell a product or event. At the beginning of Purpose, I fancied myself a bit of an outsider – I have no NFP start-up to my name, nor am I presently cooking up an idea to curtail deforestation or shelter the poor. But it quickly became clear that I was a part of this community. The ideas brewing at Purpose were human ones; they pertained to business, yes, but also to not being a jerk. This is important to note because our manners dictate the way we treat the external world, but they begin with how we treat the person beside us.

This is the magic Purpose spun into the current conversation around purpose-driven business models. It served as a reminder of a common cause, allowed for funny and candid insights; it introduced us to people who can help us get there. The question at the forefront was rightly this one: “How do we actually do this?” Thanks to two days at the inaugural Purpose gathering, here’s what I’ve come away with…

1. We need a new, conscious breed of corporation

Jane Gleeson-White, author of Six Capitals: The Revolution Capitalism Has to Have, opened Purpose with an accountant’s view on the changing attitudes to business and the need for a new breed of corporation, i.e. the B Corp. “Through our accounting systems, we have inadvertently programmed our economies to destroy the earth,” she explained. A change in this accounting, or what’s called ‘integrated reporting’, has allowed for a shift in business and somewhat a groundswell. “For the first time, businesses are attempting to consider how their pursuit of profit impacts on the world around them and how that world affects their ability to make profits,” said Jane. Yep, natural capital is now a thing, and it’s bringing to light information that’s never been considered in financial reports before. This is what has allowed for a growing number of entrepreneurs (and Purpose attendees) to begin to address the enormous social and environmental problems of the world. The old paradigm has been smashed and businesses can no longer ignore the negative consequences of their daily operations. Enter a new league of corporations with conscience.

For the first time, businesses are attempting to consider how their pursuit of profit impacts on the world around them.
— Jane Gleeson-White

2. Purpose will redefine hiring

At the breakout session How to Community, Helen Souness of Etsy Australia, an online marketplace where consumers buy directly from the maker, shared her advice for businesses that place values above all else. In her mind, it’s all about the people you bring on board. “Recruit to values. It’s been said before, but it is fundamental if you want to sustain and grow a community around your business. Hire people who get it and who connect with your purpose,” said Helen. “Attitude first, experience second.” At the other end of this is prospective employees who want to work for an organisation whose values align with their own. Alicia Darvall in Becoming a B Corp echoed this sentiment that having purpose makes it easier to find your tribe. “There’s a new generation who don’t want to check their values at the door. If you’re a B Corp, people want to work with you,” she explained. In fact, purpose-driven workers, those motivated by the work itself rather than a payslip, perform significantly better than other workers, according to a recent study. In short, have purpose. Be about something bigger than what you do day-to-day. Doing so will ensure the right employees seek you out.

Having purpose makes it easier to find your tribe
— Alicia Darvall, B Lab

3. Big businesses can help in big ways

In Purpose-led Disruption, Mark Daniels of Social Traders, reckoned that in the next decade, one thing that will change disadvantage is social procurement. This term was new to me, so I’ll simplify in case you’re in the same boat. Businesses need goods and services. Social procurement is the deliberate purchase of goods and services from a social enterprise. “What we are now seeing is business and government beginning to explore doing good through their supply chain,” he said. “For example, buying management of a transfer station from a social enterprise means you get a great waste service – the same, and in some case a better, service than you would from the private sector – but you could also get the additional social benefit of 50% of the labour force coming from a disadvantaged cohort, which could include Indigenous peoples, those with disabilities or the long-term unemployed.”

4. Seek out the stories of those who’ve been there

Listening to Abigail Forsyth recount her journey from mother-with-idea to CEO and founder of KeepCup was truly a delight. It all began with her daughter’s reusable sippy cup and the thought that throwing it out after each drink would be nutso – and yet that’s what today’s convenience culture is wont to do. “It’s been an amazing journey. I thought I was going to run it from my lounge room … and I thought: I’ve got a pretty big shed, I’ll put the boxes in there. But it’s taken me all over the world. It’s been the journey of a lifetime.” She now boasts 40 staff, three offices and 35 distribution partners. In case you missed it, here’s the podcast thanks to Make Do Co. Malcolm Rands is another example of a man whose purpose was found in his desire to protect the environment, not from single-use coffee cups, but petrochemical cleaning agents. As he writes in his book, “…the other vital thing about ecostore was that it was never just a business that was going to make a lot of money for its owners. It is a vehicle: it is the fundraising arm of my not-for-profit organisation, Fairground Foundation, so it has to generate enough profit to seed projects that will help make a better future for us all.”

5. We are it. Let’s keep the juice alive.

Purpose 2015, among a squillion other things, revealed there are others like you. People with the same drive to shake things up – those who’ve failed, succeeded, are in the thick of it, and those just starting out. On your journey, remember Kyra Maya Phillips’ beloved passage from The Art of Stillness: Adventure in Going Nowhere: “To me, the point of sitting still is that it helps you to see through the very idea of pushing forward; indeed, it strips you of yourself, as of a coat of armour, by leading you into a place where you’re defined by something larger. If it does have benefits, they lie within some invisible account with a high interest rate, but very long-term yields, to be drawn upon at that moment, surely inevitable, when a doctor walks into your room, shaking his head, or another car veers in front of yours, and all you have to draw upon is what you’ve collected in your deeper moments.”

From the laser-cut nametags and coffee cart working double time, to the water refilling stations and Who Gives A Crap TP in the stalls, Purpose walked the talk. Beyond that, there were moments which gave us pause and asked that we inhale, exhale. Together, we fashioned a rain storm using hands and legs. We were serenaded by our MC. Suffice it to say, we'll be back next year for more. And for anyone with Matt Wicking withdrawals, here’s the balm.

If you missed it, here’s the Facebook group to keep you up to speed with Purpose alumni, as well as our Twitter feed #Purpose2015.


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The Art of the Hustle: The Entrepreneur’s secret weapon

Not so long ago now, we were talking in the office about all the awesome creative entrepreneurs around us, and how those who are particularly excellent at doing this kind of work all possess an elusive key ingredient: hustle.

Like this guy.

And this lady.

And this crew.

I’m not talking about the “hustler” hustle. (Scamming anyone who looks naive enough to be an easy prospect - although, you can’t deny that the kind of confidence it takes to pull this off can definitely be an advantage in business - but it isn’t how we do things at Wildwon.)

The kind of hustle we’re talking about is the willingness to do what needs to be done, for as long as you need to until you reach your goal. Working your ass off while your competition kicks back. The patience and persistence that forces you to do what you have to until you have it figured out, checked off, perfected and you’ve got that next big win in the bag.

This kind of hustle has no room for excuses, complacency, discomfort or feeling sorry for yourself.

It is the take-no-prisoners passion and grit that overcomes obstacles and gets you to where you want to be.

Someone with hustle is smart, strategic, driven, refuses to take no for an answer, and is determined to find a better way to do things. In fact, the idea of doing what’s always been done just because that’s the way things are seems like genuine madness to someone who hustles. They see what they want to achieve and know that because they’re willing to do the work they can make it happen. They also know that their willingness to dig in and hustle is the only thing that separates them from every other person with a big dream that will never be realised.

The thing about someone who hustles is - this is rarely the same person who is the best at what they do, but someone with hustle will always get further than someone who is naturally talented, intelligent or otherwise lucky. Hustle goes further than luck or natural ability, and it is the worst enemy of someone who wants to walk the well trodden path. It is rarely found in people who watch a lot of TV, just sayin’.

Hustle is not often found in someone who wants comfort. It is not for people who are scared to take risks. Hustle comes with risk, and risk and comfort are rarely found in the same place.

As any gambler will tell you though, you have to gamble big to win big. The potential wins from being a hustler, taking a risk and potentially reaching your goal are huge - and in an early stage business, willingness to hustle and go that extra mile is one of the surest indicators of success.

“Good things come to those who hustle.”

So you want big things? You’ve got dream and ambition? You want to create something?

Ultimately it is up to you. So go do it. Hustle.

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Purpose-driven Business

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Purpose-driven Business


The State of Shared Value in Australia Survey was released last week, and given that we're in planning mode for our first ever Wildwon event about purpose-driven business, it proved to be very interesting reading.

We've always described ourselves as a purpose-led business - but we know this way of operating is fast catching on. There is a growing movement of small businesses, large companies and international corporates who put a social good mission at the centre of what they do. Whether that’s by becoming a B Corp, by being involved with the Conscious Capitalism movement, by embedding Shared Value principles into corporate strategy - or a small business refusing to compromise their values for the sake of making a sale. This movement doesn’t discriminate - there’s room for everyone.

According to this latest report, there are a bunch of businesses living Shared Value principles, who don’t even know they are. Purpose-driven business is close to becoming business as usual, rather than a point of difference.

We’re also seeing many companies expanding their Shared Value mandate beyond typical “marketing friendly” initiatives, to start having an impact on broader societal issues with many causes - the wicked problems the corporate sector has long avoided or outright denied. This is great news.

But we’re not there yet. There is still resistance to implementing Shared Value thinking organisation wide - especially if it is perceived to be at odds with broader corporate strategy - which, let’s face it, is making money. Perhaps the only way we’ll overcome this is by changing regulations and pushing businesses to report on environmental and social impact, as well as financial gains. (There are already big moves being made on this front - and no doubt more change to come. Watch this space.)

Let’s be honest - social impact as we think about it now is still a relatively young field. It is still tricky to measure and quantify social impact, and therefore difficult to factor it in to business decision making alongside bottom line reporting.

But the good news is, many companies are committed to trying anyway. And those who are persisting are reaping the benefits - in terms of impact, financial returns, and positive brand associations.

The more active and vocal we become as consumers, the bigger the market for ethical and sustainable goods and services grows, the closer links we have to the businesses we choose to patronise, and the more open and transparent the business community becomes, the greater the imperative to become a purpose-driven business becomes.

In so many ways we’re just at the start of this journey. And that’s what’s so exciting about this - because we’ve already come so far, and the movement really seems to be gathering steam.

Sure enough, the days of the old fashioned solely bottom line focused business is numbered, because there is a whole generation of companies who do what they do, but they do it better - by putting people and planet at the centre of their operations, and often making more money in the process!

Wildwon is thrilled to be a part of it. More please!

Are you a purpose-led business? We’d love to hear about what you do and how you’re making a difference in your work. Would you like to learn more about how to be a part of the purpose economy and part of Purpose 2015? Leave us a comment below or get in touch.


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My Wildwon Experience


My Wildwon Experience

Hitting my third and final year of my Event Management and Design degree I had very little idea where I could see myself taking my studies when I finished. I did however have one thing pretty set in my mind: I would never design conferences.

But, as a wise man once said never say never.

I came to Wildwon with the assumption that conference content always has, and always will be, quite frankly a bit boring.  However even in the early days of my internship my perception of conferences was beginning to change completely and I realised they could actually be pretty amazing.

This dramatic turnaround probably occurred because I began working with a company who saw events in a completely different way to most people. They manage to change the typical idea of a conference and design an engaging and meaningful experience that creates deep, positive impact.

“people never forget how you make them feel”

– Wildwon  

In order to design something meaningful and engaging Wildwon go far beyond the logistics of event design and production. Wildwon’s primary focus is how everyone involved with the event will experience the event. They create a journey by considering all moments of engagement between people and brands and the ideas, emotions and memories that these moments create.


Promotional outreach is very important

tPromotional outreach is something that in the back of my mind I have always known is important for an event, but it’s also in the back of my mind so I have never really considered how important it is. A key thing that Wildwon has taught me is that promoting an event to the right networks, and finding people who are truly passionate about the event is crucial to the overall experience people are going to have, which now I think about it should be blatantly obvious. People attending an event want to be surrounded by as many people excited by the same things they are passionate about as possible.

Content… probably the most important

This brings me to my second point. I have probably never found conferences exciting because I have never been excited about what the speakers are talking about… until now. Wildwon gave me the opportunity to research speakers they have had speak at their conferences previously and find people that I think would be interesting in their conferences to come. I was overwhelmed with how creative, resourceful and honest their speakers are.  

Communication is key!

One of the things I love most about the experiences Wildwon create is that they create a community of people with common interests and similar beliefs. Wildwon really considers how people are going to interact before, during and after the event. They help to build relationships between all people attending the event creating a more meaningful experience.  

So, to end my spiel, if you were to ask me now if I could ever see myself designing a conference I wouldn’t say no.




Earthmoji: a sign of life in the digital age


Earthmoji: a sign of life in the digital age

At political rallies and in the media, eye-catching, witty (or punny) and cut-through placards are a form of social capital. 

And if you're between the ages of 15 and 35, or maybe just a human who used a smart phone, you'll know that emoji are integral to social interaction.

So when Naresh Ramchandani and team showed up at the People's Climate March in London in March 2015 with 'Earthmoji' placards communicating the sentiment of the crowd, they captured the world's attention, and certainly that of people who equate environmental destruction with their emotions, and express their emotions via emoji.

A symbol of human solidarity the almost universal language of emoji, and a heartening sign that even in a digital age, we still care deeply about the real world around us - we think Earthmoji is a triumph of design and climate change communication.

via Do The Green Thing and Pentagram Design


8 Things We Learnt at Link Festival 2015


8 Things We Learnt at Link Festival 2015

Two weeks ago, Link Festival blew all our expectations out of the water - the event sold out, and the buzz at the event was incredible. Thanks to the amazing team at Engineers Without Borders, all of the great collaborators on the event and most importantly the people in the room, it truly brought together the best in design, technology and social change for us to feast our minds on.


My Wildwon experience.

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My Wildwon experience.

I stumbled upon Wildwon on one of my many Google tangents. Studying Social Science has fostered my interest in social change but like a lot of University students, I'm unsure of where I can and would like to take my studies. I discovered that co-founder Sally had a similar education origins and she was now tackling social issues but from an angle I had never considered. 

When people ask me what Wildwon do, I am reluctant to call them an events company because that label really doesn’t capture the depth of their work. Depth feels like an appropriate word because when I had thought about event planning in the past I had thought of work with a shallow purpose, which couldn’t be further from Wildwon. Their work goes far beyond general event logistics such as venue hire, catering and styling. Unfortunately not many people are familiar with the term 'experience design', so events is label I am left with when explaining what I’ve been involved in for the last eight weeks. This is what they truly do though- they design quality experiences that generate long lasting social change. 

After getting in contact with Wildwon I was delighted to hear they would take me on as a 'Wildwon Fresher'. They were so thoughtful, tailoring a schedule to my interests, tasks I enjoyed and what I wanted to learn. Their approach to my internship gives you an idea of how they approach their work - always going above and beyond to get results. My time with Wildwon was an enjoyable learning experience but like all good things it must come to an end. I am thankful for the time that Sally, Yvonne and Benedetta have generously given me and I will return to my studies inspired by their passion and armed with Wildwon wisdom.

1.     People are humans first

People are not consumers, they are not a market audience- they are humans. That is how Wildwon approach their work, how they design their events and how they treat their co-workers. Our humanity is the thing that we all share and evoking it is the best way to connect and communicate with each other. 

2.     Communication

Communication is the key to a successful relationship whether it is personal or professional and it is essential in teams.

Wildwon have devised a system of tools that nurture their fluid and thriving teamwork- from digital, pen on paper and face to face. They have regular meetings amongst themselves to discuss what they have been doing, to debrief on projects and plan what is coming up. Sally and Yvonne made a point of allocating time- weekly breakfasts- where I had their full attention.

Wildwon's internal culture extends into their work relationships.  They encourage their freelancers to work along side them in their beautiful open space office. They also host interactive workshops for their clients to hash out details and ensure transparency throughout the project.

3.     Purpose

Purpose drives everything, it drives good ideas and it drives Wildwon's work. Wildwon put on beautiful and engaging events but with the purpose of creating positive social change. This is what sets them apart from other event agencies. Their projects start with a list of principles that help shape every decision throughout the lifespan of the project. This ensures that everybody has the same vision and a shared purpose is the driving force. 

People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. It's not enough to just do, fulfilment comes when you do with meaning. Likewise, what you believe in is not enough either, you must take actions. You must 'eat your own dog food'.

4.     Collaboration

Collaboration between people, between companies and organisations or between industries. Great things happen when we work together!

Networking is a word with sometimes negative connotations. It may make you think of shmoozing or trying to get ahead, but what it is really about is finding like minded people. It is important to build communities around shared values and ideas. Sometimes our first instincts can be to compete with one another but what we need to do is collaborate.

Collaboration is not just beneficial between bodies that are similar but also those that are contrasting. Innovation is a new way of looking at something, a solution no one has thought of before, thats why innovation happens when unlikely things come together.

Many of Wildwon's events foster this idea. Progress brings change-makers together from people in policy, NGOs, not for profits and campaigns. Link brings together professionals across the design and technology industries- architects, engineers and designers working together to find solutions to real world challenges.

5.     Learning.

Constantly learn! Being exposed to new ideas and experiences exercises your mind and gives you material to make realisations and draw connections. 

Wildwon encourage the exploration of ideas. They share discoveries with each other, sometimes ones that are relevant to their projects, other times just because they think it is interesting. 

They regularly attend events, to benefit their own event design but also for new knowledge. They attend conferences, seeking ideas on social-change, business and design that they can feed back into their work.



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GreenUps x Fashion Revolution: Design the Future

Flourish is a festival of sustainable fashion that was put on by GreenUps and Fashion Revolution.  They hosted a series of workshops and talks in a beautiful space in the Rocks to educate Sydney-siders on the issues we face and inspire us to take action. 

On Tuesday night we heard from a handful of passionate designers and environmentalist, who stood up to discuss the toxics and waste generated by the fashion industry along with the innovation that is taking place to reduce the impact.


Tim Silverwood

'Design got us into this mess but it can get us out too.'


Tim is an environmentalist who is passionate about the issue of plastic pollution and marine debris.  Fabrics like nylon and acrylic shed micro-fibers that pollute our oceans. Studies show that almost 2000 individual fibres can be rinsed off a single synthetic garment. If you were like me and completely naive to these impacts of synthetic fashion, I suggest you do a quick google search on the great pacific garbage patch and prepared to be shocked. 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch may qualify as the largest garbage dump in the world, with 3.5 million tons of trash – 90% of which is plastic debris – swirling around between Hawaii and California.

Plastic doesn't biodegrade- no natural process can break it down completely! 10% the world's plastic ends up in our oceans, either joining the floating landfills or accumulating on the shores. It can break into grain-sized pieces which create 'plastic sand' that is almost impossible to clean up.

Tim also talked about the micro-beads that are being used in exfoilating cosmetics by pretty much all of the large skincare corporations. There can be 2 million beads in a single product and after we put them on our skin, they are washed down the drain, into oceans, along with the micro-fibres from our laundry. 

Tim can see why synthetics are useful but the durability that makes plastic so useful also makes it harmful. He says this doesn't mean that synthetic fibres don't have a place, we just need to do things better, which requires thinking about the entire system.


Donna Sgro

'Creativity can solve problems.'


Donna is a fashion designer, lecturer at UTS and PHD student. She is fascinated by Biomimicry, which is the application of nature's designs in solving human problems. Donna has been studying this process and how it can be used in the context of fashion design.

Biomimicry...the application of nature’s deisgns in solving human problems.

She worked with Morphotex, a fabric which appears to hold a colour but in fact uses no pigment or dye. This fabric was created after studying the structure of butterfly wings, that create an optical illusion of colour, by the way light interacts with the intricate layering of scales. 

The dying process is responsible for much of the impact created by the fashion industry and Morphotex is an example of how we can avoid it. Donna warns that Morphotex is not an ideal fabric in any way but it does challenge traditional models and helps to raise questions as how science can help come up with more sustainable solutions. 

Donna believes there are tremendous benefits that can come out of the collaboration between scientists and fashion designers. She explains that science uses a problem-solution based method that fashion lacks. Fashion design is more of a creative practice but when it is approached from a scientists perspective it can have some truly innovative results. 


Clara Vuletich

'Designers are the mediators between the materials and the human beings.'


Clara is a textile designer, researcher and educator who is interested in the role of the designer in creating a more sustainable fashion industry. She knows that the designer is central to the cause, as 80-90 percent of a item's environmental impact is decided at the design stage. Unfortunately labels dictate most choices that designers make, they have very limited power unless they are working for themselves or a small brand. Donna has worked at TED (Textiles Environment Design) and helped develop a set of ten principles to assist designers in making more sustainable choices. The TEN has been used for consulting large brands like H&M who have thousands of designers working under their label. Donna points out the obvious contradiction with such brands who are interested in sustainability yet still want to have continuously growing profit margins. 

80-90 percent of a item’s environmental impact is decided at the design stage.

Donna talks about being in a transitional period where sustainability is demanding that designers act different. She recognises that most designers differ from environmentalists in that they are not extreme activists, designers do not want to disrupt, they want solutions. Even though the designer is crucial in determining the impact of clothing, there is more than just a label standing in the way of sustainability. A sustainable fashion industry can only evolve when it is being tackled by every touch point in the lifecycle of clothing. This change is going to require policy researchers and writers, new business models, behavioural phycologists and material scientists, resulting in a very complex supply chain. 

Donna says that a lot of material scientist are coming up with new materials but their efforts prove pointless if the designer doesn't want to use it and the consumer doesn't want to wear it. She talks about the conflicting feelings she has herself- a love for texture, colour and pattern- which require processes that her values condemn. There is an obvious challenge in being a conscious designer and remaining in the main stream market.

Donna wonders how she can get designers to care about sustainability? She has realised that these values can't just be forced externally but must be created within. She has developed a set of activities including meditation and hand-stitching that she thinks will help designers foster a sense of sustainability within themselves.



The Future of Digital Part 1: the future IS digital

General Assembly partnered with Mashable to co-present The Future of Digital, a day-long festival with over 20 speakers sharing ideas on technology, design, digital trends and the future of work. These are some insights that we gained from throughout the day...

The future of digital = the future IS digital.

What is digital? Digital is 0s and 1s. Digital is any system that uses a code of digits to store and transmit information. These digitals can be displayed at pixels to create text and images. When we talk about digital, we are talking about IT- Information Technology - tools that we use to communicate information. Computers and mobile phones. The Internet. 

Mike Biggs from Thoughtworks said it is taking over and supporting everything we do in life and I don't think anyone can disagree. Mike explained that digital is the fabric of the design process. It allows us to design everything- interfaces, products, experiences, business models, etc. We are using it to design everything around us and as a result of this process digital becomes not just the fabric of design but also the fabric of our lives.

Joel Turnball from General Assembly gave examples of how the lines between the digital world and the physical world are becoming blurry. Money is being replaced by digital currencies, traditional physical transactions like shopping are being moved online, even relationships. With new technology like 3D printing, digital is evolving from not just a mediator but a creator within the physical world as well.

Unlike people born into this digital world (the digital natives) some of us can still remember a time before the internet, before smart phones, when our lives were not lived through these digital tools. There was a time when information was more static, when it moved slowly and it's reach was limited. Tom Uglow from Google Labs explained that the future of digital is when information reaches a level of fluidity that it is taken for granted by everybody, like electricity!

Damian Damjanovski from Common Ventures pointed out that those of us living in the future of digital are going to require knowledge and training to keep up with the rapid pace of technology. Joel Turnball believes that understanding digital code is now important even if you are not going to write it. In a digitally dominated world, the better your 'software literacy' is, the grater control you will have.


Top take-outs from UX Australia's 'Redux'


Top take-outs from UX Australia's 'Redux'

UX Australia recently hosted Redux - a 'UX Australia lite' - or condensed version of the UX Australia conference held each year. The event featured some of Australia's biggest names in user experience (UX) design.

I'm new to the practise and absolutely fascinated by the impact that design thinking can have on event production. It was fantastic to hear the stories and experiences of experts in this field.

These are my top 5 take aways from the day:


When you are performing research always use the purpose of the project as your driving force. This asset will guide you through the complicated ensemble of tasks/interconnections/issues that will arise along the way. Ash Donaldson from Tobias & Tobias talked us through his experience collaborating with Hello Sunday Morning in discovering the culture around alcohol in Australia. A complicated research project on the community of users of HSM gave the team to an enormous amount of data, allowing them to understand who their users are, how to help them and how to implement relationships between members. What kept Ash and the team focused during this highly engaging project was the force of purpose - change your relationship with alcohol, one Sunday at a time. So stop focusing on the product - think purpose!


Steve Baty from UX Australia opened the day by inviting all participants to think differently. When a problem arises, you decide how to solve it and it's up to you to re-frame an obstacle. Be creative about it, be bold and commit yourself to thinking freely. UX designers articulate new ways of thinking and look at things through other people's eyes. Re-framing means that your whole project will benefit from new ideas, new perspectives and new ways of communicating. The impact of your work will be limitless. See Steve's slides about re-framing the problem here.


Whoever said that UX is only applicable to the digital world is wrong. Limiting UX to digital channels restrains the potential impact of your work. Iain Barker from Meld Studios is an advocate of applying UX skills on a more strategic level. During his 20 minute talk he invited UX practitioners to challenge themselves by designing outside of their familiar channels. Expand your impact by applying your UX skills to non-digital challenges, be brave and dare to leave your comfort zone.


Did you know that by owning a smart phone you are emitting information about yourself into the digital world? This means that your information is out there for anyone to access, it can be taken without permission and used to tailor experiences specifically for you. Katja Forbes clearly illustrated how our digital aura gets harvested by the digital matrix to personalise our digital environments. Scary from a personal point of view, but I must admit I'm amazed by the ability technology has to transport and share information.


How would you define a good listener? You might consider it to be someone who can maintain eye contact and explore the "whys" and "whats" in a conversation. For UX practitioners listening is a vital part of the job. Listening is a constant and continuous process. One tip that was shared by the engaging Nova Franklin from Meld Studios was, when talking to someone think: this person has something really important to say. Magic happens when you really start listening to others.