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Our Junior Designer Paul Simpson recently attended “Creative Change Makers 2024”, a hybrid conference centred around empowering creative thinking and innovation for social and environmental impact. The conference was packed full of inspiring discussion, with 15 speakers of wide-ranging disciplines sharing their stories and initiatives that are having outstanding local and global impact. Here are some of Paul’s highlights from the event.

Real change starts with a story.

One of the standout speakers from the conference was multi-disciplinary designer Abi Chapman. She took to the stage to share her incredible story of living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, how it affected her formative adolescent years, and how mismanagement of the condition almost took her life in her early 20s. The tremendous challenges she faces in everyday life ultimately led her to establish The Accessibility Project UK, a social enterprise focused on fostering community, accessibility and inclusion for those with disabilities. Her talk served as a poignant reminder of the power that authenticity and emotion can have in the stories we tell, and how they can be leveraged to drive positive social and environmental change more effectively.

Question, Challenge, Change.

Azween Ramli and Steven Lane of Leonard Design Architects discussed a few of the social impact initiatives they run at their practice, leveraging their collective skills and expertise to make a difference within their business, the wider community, and the field of architecture as a whole. One of the schemes highlighted was “Question, Challenge, Change”, a monthly initiative that sees colleagues at the firm explore and tackle an issue that has been selected by peers. An example of this scheme in action saw the firm explore the question “What does it mean to design public spaces for women and girls?”. After much collective research, analysis and deliberation, colleagues at the firm reached the conclusion that to design for women is to design for all, an idea which they chose to embed within the core of their practice moving forward. They have now committed to greater involvement and consultation of women on architecture projects, vastly increased lighting capacity within all of their public space projects, and greater education of men within the practice to help them understand the additional challenges women face in many areas of life. I thought the scheme was a brilliant idea, and it’d be great to see more creatives and businesses adopt something similar to make a difference wherever we can.

Saving our planet is now a communications challenge.

Eddy Altmann of Creative Conscience delivered a no-nonsense talk about the imperative role of creatives in environmental communications. He argued that achieving a greater understanding of sustainability and increasing engagement with climate action has been such a tremendous challenge because scientists and researchers lack the means to effectively communicate the essence of these topics to the general population. This is what makes our position as creatives so important – our skills and expertise grant us the powerful ability of persuasion, an essential tool in showing people why they should care about sustainability and climate action, and how they can get involved.

Eddy’s sentiment was echoed by Jonny Prest of Seed Creativity, who used his time on stage to stress the importance of embracing simple messaging that connects with everyone.

Your idea can be bigger than its execution.

Director of Nexus Nottingham Penney Poyzer capped off the conference by delivering a rousing creative pep-talk, recalling themes touched upon by previous speakers to rally us all into carrying forward a renewed enthusiasm and commitment for social and environmental impact. One point she raised that stuck with me was that your idea can be much bigger than its execution, meaning that realizing positive change isn’t just about what you are doing and what you are achieving – it’s about sharing your ideas with others, aligning towards common goals, and generating belief in them. When we place communication and collaboration at the forefront of what we do, we can truly maximise our impact.

Paul Simpson
Paul Simpson – Junior Designer

Paul is a multi-disciplinary graphic designer, joining the OXygen team in May 2022. He holds a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design from The University of Edinburgh and is passionate about all things design and technology, exploring how these can be used as a force for good. His main areas of interest lie in climate action and sustainability. Paul brings a rich and playful design process with him to OXygen, creating effective and meaningful solutions that thrive across digital and print.