The founder and director of Barcelona’s OFFF festival, Hector Ayuso, first dreamt up the idea of a conference dedicated to exploring the world of online and offline design on a lazy Sunday afternoon in 2000. He was playing around with Flash on his computer, completely fascinated by the program’s possibilities when he realized he wanted to create a space where people could share their work and talk about how new platforms and programs like Flash were shaping and changing the industry.

That was over 15 years ago. Since then, OFFF has put numerous high-profile speakers onstage, including Paula Scher, Rick Poynor, Erik Spiekermann, and Rob Chiu. After hearing from such an eclectic range of minds over the years, Ayuso finds it easy to chart the industries’ changes and soak up words of wisdom. Today, he’s sharing what he’s learned after a decade and a half of OFFF with us.

Héctor Ayuso
Héctor Ayuso

1. Technology isn’t exciting—ideas are
Ayuso draws a lot from the fact that people don’t celebrate the long-gone Flash and other programs in their talks at OFFF anymore.

“We’ve finally gotten over our blind excitement and passion for new technology,” muses Ayuso, “and we’ve now begun to understand that the best design and creativity revolves around ideas.”

Instead of using a platform or technology simply because it’s available or new, Ayuso has witnessed a widespread shift towards concept over format. Now, technology is used to serve an idea instead of dictating one.

2. Work time = playtime
Ayuso has also spotted a major shift in the way that people approach the process of creation. After listening to talks by Kyle Cooper, Stefan Sagmeister, Joshua Davis, and collaborators Vincent Morisset and Aaron Koblin, who discussed their work for Arcade Fire’s “Just A Reflektor” music video, a resounding theme has become clear.

“I’ve learned that the best approach to creativity is one of work = play. It’s a simple and brilliant concept, and the idea has changed my way of seeing and doing things. Now I don’t see work as ‘work;’ rather, I think of myself as playing all the time.”

3. The time are always changing
The creative world is in constant flux, and Ayuso is keen to emphasize just how much the industry has shifted since he first started OFFF. After witnessing how the industry refines and redefines itself year after year, he’s learnt just how important it is to be able to adapt.

Because he’s had to change with the times, what started as a number of talks where Flash was celebrated with heartfelt vigor has now evolved into a holistic and varied line-up. The 2016 conference will host Wes Anderson’s set designer, Carl Sprague, as well as M.I.A’s drummer, Kiran Gandhi. Where OFFF 2000 was interested in tech, OFFF today is particularly interest in cross-media collaborations and interdisciplinary formats.

“The industry is constantly changing and evolving, and there’s always something new to learn about. That’s why we add new elements into our line up each year.”