Elevating How We Design for Place: Top Takeaways from The Design Conference 2023

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  • Elevating How We Design for Place: Top Takeaways from The Design Conference 2023

Immersed in the captivating atmosphere of The Design Conference, our visual design team had the opportunity to delve into three days of inspiration and knowledge. Surrounded by esteemed creative and design experts, we engaged in thought-provoking conversations on creativity, culture, and leadership. Now, armed with newfound insights, we unveil our top three takeaways, highlighting the transformative power of visual design in shaping extraordinary spaces.


1. The magic of simplicity

Complexity is not a prerequisite for effective visual design.

In fact, simplicity holds the key to unlocking the true potential of visual expression, captivating and engaging a diverse audience. When exploring the intersection of graphics and planning, simplicity often reigns supreme.

By distilling intricate concepts into minimalist visuals, visual designers effortlessly capture the essence of a design, ensuring clarity and legibility for all. Embracing simplicity has a transformative effect on urban spaces, infusing them with a sense of harmony and unity. A carefully curated palette of select colours, thoughtful typography, and balanced compositions creates a visual language that weaves disparate elements into a seamless tapestry. This symphony of design elements not only appeals to the eye but also invites users to forge a deep and lasting connection with the places we design. Simple visual design becomes the conduit for a collective experience, inspiring a shared sense of belonging and community engagement.

“The solution doesn’t need to be complex, even if the project is.” – Yah-Leng Yu, Foreign Policy Design


2. Playful innovation

Exploring new techniques becomes a gateway to playful innovation and elevated outcomes.

By embracing innovation and venturing into uncharted territories, we can unleash our creativity and push the boundaries of visual expression. Visual storytelling emerges as a powerful ally, enabling us to convey complex ideas with clarity and resonance.

Through inspiring imagery and video, immersive websites and digital platforms, and captivating illustrations and infographics, visual storytellers bridge the gap between planners and communities, fostering understanding, empathy, and collaboration. Embracing these new visual communication techniques amplifies the impact of our work, empowering stakeholders to envision the future and actively participate in shaping their urban environment.

“When you create a space to play, you create good work.” – Evi-O, Evi-O Studio


3. Diverse perspectives are fundamental

When diverse perspectives come together, the transformative nature of visual design and its intersection with urban planning is magnified.

Collaboration between visual designers, landscape architects and urban planners is vital to creating cohesive and immersive urban experiences. By combining our keen eye for aesthetics with an understanding of the dynamics of communities, we can create places that are visually appealing, functional, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of the community.

Engaging stakeholders from diverse backgrounds ensures a multitude of perspectives are considered, fostering inclusivity, and avoiding biases. Through iterative design processes, feedback loops, and interdisciplinary workshops, designers and planners merge their expertise, creating holistic urban experiences that inspire and uplift communities.

“Creating a culture that welcomes differences is a fundamental ingredient of creativity.” – Michaela Webb, Studio Round


Together, visual designers, landscape architects and urban planners possess the tools and vision to craft cities that inspire, unite, and enrich the lives of all who encounter them. By embracing simplicity, exploring new techniques, and celebrating collaboration, we elevate how we design for place, creating extraordinary spaces that ignite the imagination, foster a sense of belonging, and shape a future where our cities become vibrant reflections of our collective aspirations and values.

The Design Conference is a wonderfully confronting experience for creatives. Bring your hopes, dreams and ambitions on an uncommon journey into creativity, culture and leadership. Get connected to a deepened sense of self while gently expanding your mind and circle.


Be bold. Let the transformation begin.




Hero image reference:
The Design Conference 2023, Karabo Poppy Moletsane, Custom basketball courts from 2018 at Zoo Lake, Johannesburg, South Africa (artwork)