The Creative Design Conference 2015

Team TMN sit down with Douglas Okasaki, Secretary and Treasurer for the Society for News Design – and Senior Designer for Gulf News – to find out more about the 2015 Creative Design Conference, to be held in Dubai on October 23 – 25, 2015. 

Tell us a bit about The Creative Design Conference 2015?
The Creative Design Conference is a masterclass in design possibilities available to the publishing industry. It’s an opportunity for professionals and students to learn and follow trends across all publication platforms: print, online, tablets and mobile. The event is organised by the Society for News Design – a non-profit organisation that aims to enhance communication around the world through excellence in visual journalism, with around 1,500 members worldwide.

Parallel with the conference, we also have three great workshops on offer: Infographic with Fernando Baptista from National Geographic Magazine (USA); Arabic Layout with Osama Aljawish from Al Shabiba (Oman) and Arabic Calligraphy with Dr. Salman Alhajri, professor of Art and Design, at The Department of Art Education at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman.  

Tell us about the concept behind The Creative Design Conference …
We want to gather creative individuals in the region and encourage them to share experiences. The Middle East has huge creative design potential, especially in Dubai’s hugely multi-cultural environment. The concept of sharing talent in the region is quite a new one, and the highly competitive environment that is the publishing industry can make people afraid that sharing their ideas will lead to others copying, manipulating or innovating them to their advantage. Keeping talent a secret seems to be the norm over here, but we believe that creative people can make a difference. The Creative Design Conference aims to bring and mix local and international professionals to share in their creativity, resulting in greater creative impact all-round. 

What made you decide to bring The Creative Design Conference to Dubai?
The publishing industry in this region is vibrant. Dubai is a strong reference point for general media in the Middle East, and all platforms here have an immense opportunity to grow, both in print and digital. We also recognise the constant need for members of the media to learn more and update skills by participating in conferences and workshops.

How do you think news design differs in Dubai from elsewhere in the world?
The multi-cultural characteristics in Dubai are everywhere. This makes subjects, interests and experiences in the city much more diverse. For example in Sports news, we have to accommodate fans of cricket, golf, soccer, horse racing and so on. For main news stories especially, we have a considerable number of communities in Dubai to listen to, and consider, when designing newspaper layouts.

The country’s ongoing development and construction projects mean that so much is being developed here, and all of this information must be addressed and presented in a clear and legible way.

Can anyone attend The Creative Design Conference 2015?
Yes! We mix themes that embrace general design topics such as layout, infographics, illustrations, interactivity and design management. Nowadays if you are in the publishing industry you can’t forget its design aspect, especially in Dubai where the consumer/readers/users have a high visual education and good taste. The event is open for professionals as well as students.

How can media companies get involved in The Creative Design Conference?
Simple – we have our website,, with links for suggestions and inquiries. If you want to be more involved with Society for News Design ( then your contribution is more than welcome. We have additional regional design competitions, workshops and even exhibitions, run by the organisation, from time-to-time.

Could you tell us more about who we can expect to see at The Creative Design Conference this year?
We would like to cover all platforms for creatives from print to online.  I still feel that our region needs to develop more in Interactive online coverage in particular. To remedy this we have invited Al Jazeera (Qatar) Interactive producer Mohammed Haddad; the Al Jazeera team is producing a high quality of interactive journalism online with a mix of graphic elements, video, pictures and really interesting work that can bring some inspiration for our regional online websites.

Not only is the technical aspect for the creative professional life covered, but the inspirational –  Liz Prado has experience working as a graphic designer while simultaneously developing her carrier as a painter/artist, she will talk about how to combine what you are and what you want to be.

Dani Blizzard and Lois-Rose Knowles from Digitalgurus, a high profile creative recruitment from UAE and UK, will talk about what professional profiles are in demand in the region and their advice on staying up to date on professional life.

The speakers and topics for the conference were carefully selected, with the regional publishing industry in mind.

What can we expect to gain from The Creative Design Conference 2015?
Inspiration. This is what we want our attendees to gain. And I believe they will.

 How do you think the Creative Design Conference will develop in the future?
The conference follows trends in the industry and more importantly, the people. Technology is nothing if you don’t have great ideas and creative minds behind projects. We still believe in the huge potential of professionals. The main focus of this conference is to bring in great minds to discuss their experiences and share their knowledge and skills for participants to acquire, practice and be more creative.

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