A Venture Design Practice



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. 


Project Details



April 2015




ZAC SOLOMON — Managing DIrector

develop content that goes beyond traditional portfolio reviews, by focusing on the real topics that influence designers & their industry.


Our Response


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.

While its title invokes the almost fetishistic qualities of typography, the Sex, Drugs & Helvetica conference offers a far more rounded series of vantages on graphic design and its associated interests and endeavours.
— Dan Rule, Syndey Morning Herald

The conference 

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.

Sex, Drugs & Helvetica is an invaluable resource for designers. Whether you’re a novice, an expert, a freelancer or a studio. Sex, Drugs & Helvetica present experienced designers to share their insights with people who are passionate about great design.
— Portable studio

Expanding content 

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.


2017 APRIL


Selected Content

Tim buesing
Studio: Reactive 
(acquired by Accenture Interactive) 
Project: The Most Powerful Arm

Kevin Finn
Studio: TheSumOf
Project: DESIGNerd

Michaela Webb
Studio: Round
Project: Hotel Hotel, Canberra

Geoff Cranko
Studio: Strategy Creative
Project: Kathmandu Rebrand

James Greenfield
Studio: DesignStudio
Project: Airbnb Rebrand

Chris Maclean
Studio: Interbrand
Project: Telstra Rebrand

Ben Miles
Studio: Interbrand
Project: SKY TV New Zealand

Alex Naghavi
Studio: Josephmark
Project: MySpace Rebrand

Fabio Ongarato & Ronnen Goren
Studio: Fabio Ongarato Design
Project: RMIT Design Hub

Michael C. Place
Studio: Build
Project: PlusPlus TV

Dean Poole
Studio: Alt Group
Project: Auckland Art Gallery