CASE STUDY: Sex, DRugs & Helvetica
Addressing issues that impact the design industry — a mission that launched an annual conference called Sex, Drugs & Helvetica.
Online or offline, Sex, Drugs & Helvetica aimed to help designers become better problem solvers — to become more informed, more mindful and more engaged.
NICK HALLAM — FOUNDER, Director
LEISHA MURAKI — Director
ANDREW MURRAY — Director
ZAC SOLOMON — Managing DIrector
develop content that goes beyond traditional portfolio reviews, by focusing on the real topics that influence designers & their industry.
Inspiration is wonderful, but empowerment is better. Too often the commercial realities of the design profession were overlooked, catering to the myth of eye candy. At the heart of Sex, Drugs & Helvetica was a goal to empower the design community through stories of process. Over one day, six acclaimed local and international designers each presented a single project — from start to finish. Rather than a portfolio show & tell, speakers divulged the ins and outs of working on a project. From idea development, rejected concepts, and collaborations, to client meetings and budgets, speakers explored the real day-to-day challenges they encountered as designers and how they overcame them.
Sex, Drugs & Helvetica surpassed it's initial single conference debut, running for five-years, with a seed investment of $25,000. After two successful years in Melbourne, Australia, Sex, Drugs & Helvetica expanded to Brisbane. Features in the Sydney Morning Herald, TimeOut Magazine, Broadsheet and IDN Magazine helped boost interest. Additionally, financial partnerships and sponsorships with companies including, Campaign Monitor, FujiXerox and the Australian Graphic Design Association, covered 30% of company expenditure, allowing for additional content and continued conferences. Over the course of its lifespan, eight conferences were held with an attendance of 1,200+ each year and featured projects including: the Airbnb rebrand, Kathmandu, Telstra and SKY TV.
The popularity of the conference gave rise to a masterclass series in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney and to interviews, video content and the launching of original online articles. Through exclusive weekly online content, Sex, Drugs & Helvetica continued to encourage designers into action. Each article was written by a purposefully curated selection of leading designers, who worked on projects for companies and organisations such as Qantas, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, MTV Australia, Broadsheet, World Vision and Bonds. In just a few months of its debut, the website had racked over 100,000 page views and received 360 average daily page views.