A Leap into Uncharted Design Territories: What We Learned from Design Matters Lagos 23 

Design Matters Lagos 2023 unfolded as an untapped trove of insights. We get an exclusive view into the world the Nigerian design and envision a world in which Nigerian designers are not only noticed, but also celebrated on a global scale. 

In November of 2023, Design Matters, once again, made history. For many years, a goal of Design Matters has been to prioritise inclusivity and diversity when organising our conferences. We value diversity in both hosting and speaker selection to achieve this goal.

Our conference was started  in Copenhagen back in 2015 . However we wanted to make the conference a global event, we therefore successfully executed our debut conference in Asia, which was held in Tokyo in 2020, and after the covid years we continued expanding globally with Mexico City as well as our inaugural conference in Africa, which was held in Lagos, Nigeria in 2023.

Planning for Superheros

For every conference, Design Matters digs deep into topics that are relevant to the design industry and community. We had to identify which themes best fit the African design community, particularly in Lagos, and after that was determined, we got to work on the conference preparation. Following a review of concepts that matched our intended audience; the Nigerian design ecosystem, the following themes were developed.

  • The Scandinavian Design Philosophy: In this theme, we hope to shed light on the application of a Scandinavian design philosophy in the realm of digital design. Our goal is to elevate the user experience by infusing a personal, playful, and casual ethos into our designs and processes.  Design Matters Lagos acts as a conduit for bringing a touch of Scandinavia into Nigeria, giving participants a taste of Scandinavian culture and its distinct vibes. Our mission is to bring this atmosphere to Lagos, creating an inviting, comforting, and distinctive atmosphere. 
  • The Design Superhero: In this theme, we invite you to take a journey into the hearts of design superheroes. Beyond the captivating visuals and sleek interfaces, we delve into the extraordinary stories and contributions of Nigerian designers. As we shine a light on these design superheroes, we uncover stories of innovation, resilience, and creativity that inspire awe. Design Matters Lagos 2023 was more than just a conference; it was a gathering of visionaries, a tribute to the superheroes who use design as a powerful tool for change. We uncovered the stories that redefine what it means to be a design superhero.
  • Design Trends in E-government, FinTech, and Health: In our daily lives, the digital era has seen the rise of e-government, fintech, and e-health platforms. The critical question, however, is how these platforms are designed to align with user needs and preferences. This theme delves into cutting-edge design trends in e-government, fintech, and e-health, unravelling their implications for these industries’ future.

Regardless of location, we strive to maintain and even improve on the quality of our past conferences in order to provide value to all participants, speakers, and even us as organisers. To deliver outstanding value, we worked with selected speakers with significant experience in the Nigerian design industry to build a unique topic list and event program related to the themes. 

Our activities for both days included conversation-styled discussions with designers, hands-on practical workshops, and networking events designed to let designers of various levels connect with one another.

Learnings from Superheros.

The conference revealed an important truth in the heart of technology within the country. Responsibility goes beyond titles. It is not limited to a specific role; it is a universal principle that every individual can embody, fostering a collective commitment to making a positive difference, this is no different in the Nigerian design industry. A recurring theme was the importance of proactive actions and collaborative teamwork. Designers were encouraged to adopt a proactive mindset, recognizing the collective strength that emerges when diverse talents come together to achieve a common goal. Individuals are taking responsibility for their learning, forming communities of learning and helping to support new designers.   The conference emphasised the critical role of design in developing long-term frameworks that address real-world challenges in these critical sectors;  in the fields of fintech, government, education, and healthcare.

Fintech issues took centre stage, with discussions centred on strategic approaches such as credible branding, customer education, and security measures. Designers were encouraged to use deliberate strategies to navigate the unpredictable landscape of financial technology. The potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in design was highlighted. Designers were encouraged to experiment with new strategies and embrace the incorporation of AI into design spaces, discover possibilities and redefine design boundaries. A revelation about the power of Nigerian typography emerged. Beyond its visual components, the conference explored how Nigerian typography has a unique ability to evoke deep emotions, adding a layer of cultural richness to design expressions.

The Future for Design Superheros in Nigeria.

As we set plans for the future, one of our current objectives is to help make sure Nigerian designers are recognized in global design settings. The good news is there is huge potential and talent in the Nigerian design space, the bad news is that Nigeria is struggling with stability and steady growth for designers.  Other good news is that we’ll be back yearly and continue to help develop the design scene in Nigeria in a better positive direction. Another part of the goal for Design Matters is to help make sure that designers in Nigeria will become a part of the global design community. Finally, there is a visible gap in the design community that we believe we can help close with our conferences and sub conferences. 

We are excited about the plans for next year and are open to everyone who sees a future in the Nigerian design industry and would like to partner with us. We plan to host sub events to try and educate the community and bridge the gap in levels as we continue to extend our conference reach. 

Get a taste of DML23 

Design Matters Lagos wasn’t just a conference; it was a journey into the heart of design philosophy, strategy, and cultural richness. Want to experience some of the talks that went down, here’s a talk on typography by a Nigerian Designer Abel Idume.

You can get access to the whole conference including more than 500 recorded design talks on https://designmattersplus.io/membership-account/membership-levels/

Design Matters Lagos 24

The conference is happening again in November 2024. If you have any questions or ideas for or Lagos conference please contact Victory Brown or Michael Christiansen. Want to experience some of the talks that went down, here’s a talk on typography by a Nigerian Designer Abel Idume.

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Discover all the design events and conferences by Design Matters! Seize the opportunity to learn from an amazing cast of international designers in a series of events - in January in Mexico City & Online, in June in Tokyo & Online, and in September in Copenhagen & Online.

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