29.02.20 — Journal

Design Event Extravaganza

Since returning from Murcia almost a month ago, things have been rather hectic, the pace of change has been rather drastic, and I have been up to many new things; which all means that my blog has consequently been receiving very little TLC during the past few weeks. Now, however, and after another issue with my website going down for a few days, I am back once again to bring you a good few updates on what I’ve been up to!

An illuminated sign reading "Erretres – The Strategic Design Company".

I have been seeing quite a lot of this place!

In between many busy days in the office working for some pretty cool projects, I have been sure to balance work and play, heading out for plenty of lunches, dinners, and drinks with friends in between times. I don’t have any decent photos of said evenings, as sometimes it is best to just disconnect and enjoy the moment, but trust that I have been making the most of what Madrid’s culinary scene has to offer!

Alongside all this work and play come the moments of domesticity. I have had to endure further trips to the dentist, who I swear is trying to blind me with the particles of my teeth which go flying through the air whilst she drills further holes in my pearly whites. I also made my first pot of lentejas a la riojana, lentils cooked with chorizo and vegetables. I couldn’t really appreciate the first bowl, as my mouth was still half-numb from the dentists, but I must say that now it has worn off and I can reheat the stuff in peace, I feel worthy of being decreed king of lentejas!

One Friday afternoon saw the first in a series of design-related events, with the Collision network holding a ping-pong tournament in order to catch up with everyone involved in the mentorship programme. It soon became clear to me that I was destined to hover around the pizzas rather than progress much with the tournament (I have terrible hand-eye coordination), but I had a good few beers, chatted with everyone for a while, and had a lovely time.

The Collision ping-pong tournament event.

That weekend, I once again headed out with Bogar and Hugo, and we spent an evening watching the sun set over the city centre from a rooftop terrace in Callao. The beers that we enjoyed and the couple of hours out were most welcome, and the colours of the sky made for some lovely photos.

The sun sets over Madrid.
The sun sets over Madrid.
Bogar, Hugo, and me atop a rooftop bar.

I then had a few days to prepare for the main design event around which has given this blog post its name. As a Lead Designer at Erretres, I was invited to talk in an event called Prisma, a conference about design and technology organised by the U-Tad university in Madrid. My talk presented quite a daunting task: I’d to give a 30-minute talk in Spanish in front of 200 attendees!

After prepping my presentation, which I had titled “Nuevas marcas en un panorama en constante cambio: branding digital para start-ups” (New brands in a landscape in constant change: digital branding for startups), I headed down to Medialab Prado to be mic-ed up and interviewed. I’d never been in the space before, but the Madrid-government-owned arts centre turned out to be a real architectural gem, full of neon yellow corridors and a lovely café space.

Neon yellow stairs.
Neon yellow corridor.

As the people filtered in, I was ambushed by a technician so that he could connect me up with a fancy wireless microphone, and I was soon on the front row and watching the first speaker present. Once he began to conclude his talk, I found myself up on the stage, and in a flash I had begun my talk, wittering on about how the difficulties of branding the new realm of digital startups.

My name is up on a screen at the Prisma design event.

I think that my talk went well – well, minus the cough that plagued me the whole time, that is. Over on my Twitter I got lots of great feedback, and stopped to chat to some of the attendees afterwards about the topics I’d presented about.

I had a great time at Prisma, meeting other professionals as well as design students, and it was a real personal achievement to get through a half-hour talk in my second language – if my Spanish teacher could see me now! Another personal highlight was definitely being able to put Burnley’s name up in lights – I never thought all those years ago when I first visited Madrid that I would ever be up on stage talking about my hometown!

I present a map with Burnley marked on it.


During the following weekend, I decided that I needed some fresh air, despite the dull skies that covered Madrid. Picking up a scooter, I headed off down the long Parque Madrid Río (Madrid River Park), which follows the river from my neighbourhood (in the south) all the way to the far west of the centre.

This little journey took me past the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral, offering a different angle from the typical city-centre views of the regal architecture. It’s a very picturesque area, even if the cloudy skies bathe the photo below in a gloomy grey aura.

The royal palace and cathedral seen from the west of Madrid.

The following week marked the last day of my colleague Luis at Erretres, which was a bittersweet farewell. Luis has been a great colleague and good friend since I started at Erretres all those years ago, but I was happy to see him move on to bigger and better things.

Luis’ leaving also coincided with an open studio event thrown by Tres Tipos Gráficos, another Madrid design studio which I applied for back in 2015. There, I chatted with lots of friends, ex colleagues, and new contacts, and even the police shutting the event down couldn’t stop us – we simply shifted to an Irish pub nearby and ordered a round of gin and tonics!

February also brought around the dreaded February 14th, Valentine’s Day, but I decided to stick with tradition and instead celebrated the day after. I met up with Bogar for some coffee and cakes to celebrate Galentine’s Day, and we had a lovely time wandering around Malasaña until late.

My toothy date for Galentine’s day.

Bogar with coffee and cakes.

This brought in a weekend spent outdoors, as Madrid’s sun finally returned. Amongst running ends in the city, drinks on terraces with friends, and some cheekily-shaped waffles, I took the opportunity to take some photos of the city I call home.

The Puerta de Alcalá, a gateway in Madrid.
Gran Vía, the main road through the centre of Madrid.
A brick church against the sky.

This brings me relatively up-to-date, but there’s still another design event to tell you all about: the Awwwards Conference in Amsterdam! Just last weekend was my first time in the Netherlands, but I have decided that I shall keep that for another blog post: I’ve plenty of photos to sift through and I want to get this belated post out as quickly as possible!