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AGI Open Rotterdam Preview 


AGI Open Rotterdam Preview 
Sarah Snaith

The 2019 edition of AGI Open – an annual event hosted by the borderless design community Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) that includes 527 of the world’s best graphic designers – will take place in Rotterdam. This year, the event has shifted from a conference to a festival format and AGI member Max Kisman (Netherlands, inducted in 2002) promises that the new direction will offer ‘intimacy, interaction, exchange and accessibility.’ 

The event takes place in a different city each year and since 2010, it has welcomed audiences in Mexico City, Paris, Seoul, Biel/Bienne, São Paulo, London, Hong Kong, Barcelona and Porto. In Rotterdam, AGI’s Netherlands chapter have opted to spread the programme across ten venues on the island peninsula of Katendrecht with as many as twelve talks and workshops happening simultaneously. It adopts the philosophy that ‘smaller experiences are richer than one huge mega event’, and under the theme ‘In Progress’, AGI Open Rotterdam will include more than 60 speakers such as AGI members Yah-Leng Yu (Singapore), Mark Gowing (Australia), Dr. Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès (The Netherlands), Henning Wagenbreth (Germany) and Alice Twemlow (USA). 

Throughout the festival, the audience will observe the programme’s thematic threads such as ‘Design Business’, ‘Designers Publish’, ‘How to be’, ‘Identity &’, ‘Type &’ and ‘Cultural & Social Issues’. Alt Group’s co-founder and creative director Dean Poole of New Zealand began his three-year term as AGI’s International President in September of 2018. He reports that, ‘The Netherlands team have worked tirelessly to put together a mind blowing, diverse set of voices … an action packed, chocolate box of all things good in design.’ Poole continues, ‘If comfort is the enemy of progress then design should embrace the unfinished, the uncomfortable, the indefinable.’

A few more examples of the festival’s roster includes graphic designer and AGI member Na Kim (South Korea, inducted in 2016), based in Seoul and Berlin, who will give a talk about ‘Identity and South Korea’ and Hawaiian-born AGI member Jon Sueda who will talk about publishing – Sueda founded the design studio Stripe in 2004 that specializes in print and exhibition design for the arts and culture sector. 

Several workshops will be available to Open attendees including a Riso workshop with graphic designer, artist and AGI member Sigrid Calon (Netherlands, inducted in 2016) and a screen-printing workshop with Dutch graphic designer, illustrator and architect Joost Swarte (Netherlands, inducted in 2015). Calon studied textile design at Academie voor Beeldende Vorming and her work straddles design and applied art, characterized by its focus on intuition, exploration and playfulness. Swarte is best known as a comic artist, despite creating very few, and has initiated magazines such as Modern Papier (founded in 1971) and Scratches (founded in 2016) as well as founding his own publishing house Oog & Blik, in 1985, and the comics convention Stripdagen in 1992. 
AGI Open Rotterdam with take place on Tuesday 24 September and with the thinking that ‘Nothing is finished. Everything is in a constant state of change.’, promises to facilitate the exchange of ideas through talks and workshops, as well as shared experiences eating, drinking and playing ping-pong between programmed events.