Betsy Vardell | Interviews

Hopscotch Design Festival

For the past four years, early September in Raleigh, NC means the Hopscotch Music Festival is taking over the town and this year, its organizers are adding a new design festival. On September 3rd and 4th, the Hopscotch Design Festival will highlight more than 25 sessions from presenters who work across the disciplines of graphic design, user experience design, urban planning, technology, architecture, music, food, film and more. We spoke with Co-Founders Matthew Muñoz, Chief Design Officer and Partner, New Kind and Jonathan Opp, Chief Poetics Officer and Partner, New Kind, and asked them to tell us a little more about what to expect.

What makes Raleigh the right location for a design festival?  

Raleigh is a fantastic home for a design festival. It’s walkable, bikeable, and there’s a creative spirit expressed here. We share this trait with many other places — like Durham — and it’s quite exciting for us to have the opportunity to host curious minds from all around. That said, we’re expecting folks from all over to attend. The region has deep roots in design — the many innovative schools here, especially the heritage of NC State’s College of Design, the art and design focus of our world-renowned museums: North Carolina Museum of Art, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Contemporay Art Museum Raleigh, and the sheer number of people and companies who use creativity to make an impact. Our goal is to highlight the common ground we all share — forming the future of our lives, cities, and organizations with intent — rather than whether any “city” owns this gathering.

It’s easy to imagine how a film festival could attract both filmmakers and film fans. Does this translate to a design festival?

We’re here to appeal to a broader audience. After all, Hopscotch is a place to discover the people designing the future. In one place, in multiple walkable venes, we’re curating an experience where attendees can hop around to various topics that interest them. Where else can you interact with Harper Reed on how technology changed politics forever through the 2012 Obama campaign and then see how Annie Atkins used graphic design to create the world of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel?

Our belief is that these visionaries, like the rest of our speakers and our regional community, have a design-mindedness — a way of working — where they imagine how the world could be, not how it is; they use empathy to uncover bold ideas from unexpected places and focus on making ideas happen through tenacious action.

Ultimately, if you’re interested in being inspired, in networking, and in learning how to fearlessly create ideas in your work — and have a good time while doing it — then this is the place for you.

How many people are you hoping will attend?

We’re designing the event to support 600 attendees.

As national conferences and other festivals get more and more expensive, $150 seems pretty reasonable for a two-day event.  

Thanks, we think so too! We wanted to bring together many exciting, inspiring thought leaders at a value that encouraged a broad community to both attend and contribute. We’re hoping to have people with various backgrounds join us.

What else sets you apart from the traditional “design conference”?

We’re unique from other conferences because we’re partnering with a widely recognized music festival that has a unique experience — where people jump around to discover new music and see old favorites. We’re creating a design festival with the same experience, one that balances the tension of a playful format with big ideas, and combines the mashup of multiple industries with a search for the common ground that unites us all.

Lastly, any music performances are you most looking forward to this year?

So many! But I’ll leave it at this: at the end of the festival, my favorites are always the bands I didn’t know at the outset.

Jobs | July 21