Pakistan’s first-ever digital design conference to be held in September

Organisers see conference as ‘a movement for good design’

Islamabad

Two enterprising young women unveiled their plan Thursday to hold Pakistan’s first and largest ‘National Digital Design Conference (ND2C)’ in Islamabad on September 23 and 24, 2017. The two-day event will bring together creatives and influencers to talk about design, review and evaluate current design practices, learn about new design technology and trends, and evaluate their readiness for future design challenges.

A gathering of over 1,000 creatives is expected; they include designers, art directors, marketers, freelancers, design thinking practitioners, creative agencies, or just about anyone looking to refuel their creativity, find inspiration, decipher emerging design trends and technologies, and learn to work across platforms.

Sana Khalid and Nida Salman have been running their creative businesses in Islamabad and have combined experience of over 15 years. They have, together and individually, hosted and delivered several creativity workshops, exhibitions, networking sessions and other events over the past few years and are now curating the only digital design conference of this scale in Pakistan.

While executives have started to understand the importance of design, there is still a need for more and more of them to understand the critical business application of design to the corporate image. “You see bad design everywhere – on billboards, in offices, on road signs and websites. And it has a cost. For us, this conference is no less than a movement – a movement for good design. We want to encourage collaboration between industry and agency and accentuate the link between great design and great business,” Nida Salman explained while talking to this scribe.

The two women organizers promise a powerful line-up of local and international speakers, whose names they will publicly disclose on their website this week. Imagine the chance to speak to Stefan Sagmeister and learn directly from Debbie Millman – for a designer, it’s a dream come true. In addition to a series of talks, panel discussions and workshops, the conference will also give over 50 aspiring creatives from around the country an opportunity to showcase their work, meet with potential employers or clients and launch themselves in the market in the middle of hundreds of industry influencers.

Where did you get the inspiration for such a conference, Sana was asked. “I am a learning experience designer. For six years, I have been creating spaces and experiences where people can learn, find inspiration, and engage with others in an environment they enjoy. When Nida mentioned how much she wanted to bring to Pakistan, experiences like AIGA, HOW Design, and the 99u Conference that offer so much learning and engagement, I knew this was the kind of experience I would love to help recreate here. It is also completely in line with my current focus on promoting creative careers. And now, almost 10 months into our preparations, it’s on its way. It’ll grow each year till we make it one of the top five conferences for designers around the world,” said Sana, a community mobiliser who runs the social enterprise, Minerva.

Each year, the conference will be given a theme. This year it is ‘Women in Design.’ Six women leading the way in the field of design will be featured at the conference as success stories to inspire more women to enter the field. An underlying objective of the conference is to promote creative careers as mainstream careers.

The duo envisions ND2C to be a community-driven conference and encourages individuals as well as organisations to come forward and support the idea and help make it happen. “The best part about someone stepping forward to support this conference is that they too benefit from the outcome. There are so many ways for people to contribute – pitch in ideas, buy tickets, get a stall, volunteer, or just spread the word. This is not about one person or about us; it’s about building a different narrative for Pakistan,” Sana stated.