Meet designers Nitsan Rozenberg and Liri Argov co-founders of OFFF TLV
InterviewBy Thomas Dahm,
How did you two meet?
Liri: We are both independent graphic designers and met in design school. Our first project started when Nitsan built a social design system that responded to communication needs all over Israel. When I joined in to help, our professional relationship began.
Whats the design scene in Tel Aviv / Israel like?
Nitsan and Liri: Local creators operate in a blossoming field with blurred boundaries between tech and design. This opportunity allows a designer’s creativity and skills to grow as fast as their ambition permits. Being known as the second Silicon Valley certainly puts Tel Aviv and Israeli designers within arm’s reach of global tech companies and some of the most vibrant startups. All of this opportunity also stokes a hunger in local designers to scale up and do more international work. The push/pull between being a big fish in a small pond and a small fish in a big pond is an amazing opportunity for the designers who are ready to work hard.
What led up to organizing OFFF TLV?
Liri: We were both bored with our local design scene, and weren’t alone feeling uninspired and isolated in our small corner of the world. It was difficult to describe this boredom when Tel Aviv is known as the Startup Nation. Tel Aviv is home to one of the biggest and most productive tech scenes in the world, so we looked for a way to promote Israeli design in a similar way as the tech scene has done for itself, because of course design and tech are inseparable.
As designers we have the ability to approach all kinds of challenges creatively, answering open questions in a constantly shifting world. We wanted to create a hub where our colleagues - local and international - can meet to rethink existing resources and invent entirely new concepts.
Tel Aviv is home to one of the biggest and most productive tech scenes in the world, so we looked for a way to promote Israeli design in a similar way as the tech scene has done for itself, because of course design and tech are inseparable.
Have you always been a organizer?
Nitsan: Nope! Organizing a festival on this scale is fun, but extremely challenging! As designers our job is to solve problems and plan, so we think of ourselves as festival “designers”. We’ve put a lot of thought into who our audience is, what they need from this festival, and what challenges might come up that we need to address during the event.
What has been the most challenging part in launching OFFF TLV?
Liri: As anyone with a side hustle knows, there aren’t enough hours in the day! We’re organizing the festival alongside our own design work and personal lives. But this has become our labor of love, so at the end of the day we’re tired, but happy.
OFFF TLV is in October, why?
Nitsan: Israel is a warm country so we wanted to make sure that the timing for a visit - especially for someone using the festival as a launchpad to visit the rest of Israel for the first time - was pleasant. October is the perfect month to be in Tel Aviv.
What’s the concept behind this years event branding?
Liri: Each year we choose a different leading local design studio to create the branding for the festival. These partnerships allow us to keep evolving our public face and promote some of our favorite Israeli studios. This year’s branding and theme “The Grand Show OFFF” was made by Re-Levant Studio. The concept is an old school show with some modern twists.
How do you curate the program?
Nitsan: The goal of the festival is to unite all disciplines across all industries, so our main goal when we decide on the lineup is to invite a mix of well known designers at cutting edge studios as well as undiscovered designers creating new material. OFFF TLV is all about mixing all fields of design and learning from other disciplines than yours so we are very careful to accommodate the variety of fields that exist in visual design so there’s something for everyone.
Can you walk us through the speaker lineup, who can we expect to see?
Sure! We have: Grant Lau from Imaginary Forces, Måns Adler from Ustwo, David Vogel from Akqa Akqa, Dirk Schuster and Benjamin Simon from Foreal, Marc-Xavier Castellvi Hernandez from Outro, Vera-Maria Glahn of Field.io, Marina Willer from Pentagram, Ezequiel Maximiliano Pini from Six N. Five, Yam Ben Adiva from Yambo Studio, Piere Kleinhouse, Edward John Barrett and Jennifer Lynn Judd from Animade, HEDOF, Frankie Ratford from The Design Kids, Amnon Illuz from Re-levant Studio and Radim Malinic from Brand Nu.
What are you most excited about if you look at the complete program?
Nitsan and Liri: We have an all-star lineup this year. As a designer it doesn't matter if you are an illustrator or an UX designer; the anxiety, the lightbulb moment when an idea is born, and the creative process to bring that idea to the world is the same for all of us. We are really happy and proud to be gathering so many talented people willing to share their ideas, process, inspiration, difficulties, and successes with our audience.
What are you aiming to achieve through organizing the conference?
Nitsan: Our goal is to insert Israel into the global discourse on design. Bringing the best international designers to visit Israel and the design scene here is extremely important to this goal.
Liri: We are also hoping to bring a wider public awareness about visual design to people because design is critical to our wellbeing. Good design = a good life, and we want to share that with Tel Aviv!
How does organizing a design conference influence your daily work?
Liri and Nitsan: The organization of the festival has impacted our studios as both of us are independent designers. We actually start planning 11 months in advance! The complexity of the event makes it time consuming in the run up to the event so we focus on balancing our schedules as much as possible. As we’ve mentioned, design is all about solving challenges and planning, so our experience has given us a good basis with which we have ‘designed’ the festival.
What has been your highlights since you started as an organizer?
Liri and Nitsan: Last year was the first OFFF TLV, and the moment the crowd entered the hall for the first time for the opening talks was incredible. That moment encapsulated the months of effort and dedication we put into organizing the festival and we’re looking forward to that same feeling this year. We’ve put in even more work this year to perfect the festival with lessons learned from last year and are working to make the event as professional and fun as possible (while making ticket prices as affordable as possible so everyone can attend!).
What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
- You can never please everyone
- Get to work! Always try to beat your own deadlines
- Stick to the plan - with a clear vision every decision will be easier to make
- Have clear goals and insist on achieving them
- Choose your battles wisely
Why should anyone come to the event?
Liri: OFFF TLV is a very valuable event for any designer. Taking two days away from the screen to listen to design idols, meet international colleagues, and experience the event is vital to the professional development of any designer.
What do you want your audience to take home?
Nitsan: The biggest takeaway is that design should lead every process, as it is the most critical element that defines a problem and its solutions.
Lastly, what is the signature drink of the OFFF TLV?
Liri: Definitely beer! Casual, social, and thirst quenching.