A Gathering of Design Minds at Out of Office

by Hilda Nathalia Raina
1st November 2023
Out of Office, a design conference by Foreign Policy and MANUAL, kicked off its debut event at Brickhall Fatmawati from 28 to 29 October for a jam-packed weekend of design market, portfolio reviews, a mingling session and talks across design disciplines from publications, branding and animation to web design.

The words ‘out of office’ may conjure different imageries to mind: lounging beach-side with a book and cold beer in hand, exploring a new city that’s lingered too long on the bucket list with friends, or simply a casual day absent of any Slack notifications. 

Last weekend at Brickhall Fatmawati, the three words took on a different form as a hub that brought together design communities in Jakarta and neighbouring cities. Equally refreshing and fun-driven, Out of Office (OOO), a two-day conference by Singapore-based design studio Foreign Policy and MANUAL explored the transformative role of design across different mediums from branding, publications and animation to web design. 

With a lineup of local and international industry-leading creatives, the talks reflected the diverse storytelling styles and approaches of the speakers, giving a glimpse into their creative process while also offering a comprehensive view of what’s going on in today’s design landscape. 

There was New York-based Yehwan Song’s radical approach of ‘disrupting’ the stereotypical web experience, inviting users to rethink how they interact with and understand web designs; Jordan Marzuki, founder of independent publisher Jordan, Jordan Édition, dived into the power of imaginative visuals and critical thinking in reconstructing narratives; Connor Campbell from his eponymous studio in London unpacked the influence of layered storytelling through animation and interactive motion design.

Meanwhile, Tnop Wangsillapakun of Bangkok-based TNOP Design, member of the prestigious Alliance Graphic Internationale (AGI), delved into the importance of localised designs, and Henricus Linggawijdaja of Artnivora shared his 20 years of experience balancing creative integrity within commercial projects. 

Offering another perspective from the business side of things, the lineup continued with Rebecca Ting of cult-following brand and design studio Beyond The Vines, and Putu Wiranatha and Sally Lindsdell, founder and creative director of Bali-based craft beer brand Kura Kura, who shared the influence of brand identity and community-building in growing their respective brands.

More than a stage for established creative players to share their knowledge and insights, perhaps more importantly, OOO also shed light on emerging designers through portfolio reviews, where selected individuals were given the opportunity to present their work to the crowd and receive feedback from industry players, such as Eric Widjaja of Thinking*Room, Jonathan Yuen of Roots Studio, and Gian Jonathan and Astri Nursalim from Kinetic Singapore. 

Curiosity, anticipation and excitement fueled the two-day conference, extending into a collective celebration as OOO became one of the first of many more events of this scale in the city that positions Jakarta’s design communities on the global map.

In between the talks, visitors flocked outdoors to the public market, COPPP, to refuel with a cup of coffee and sweet treats while browsing through the curation of design trinkets from notable design studios. Out of Office concluded on a high note with a time of mingling, where the crowd were seen making new friends with fellow creatives or in an animated exchange with their favourite designers over drinks and live music. It’s easy to forget that it’s time to head back to the office the next day.