Brighton Digital Festival: Open studios review

10th September, 2015

Brighton Digital Festival cover image jpg

It’s September and while we all say goodbye to the last few rays of sunshine here in Brighton, we say a big hello to the Brighton Digital Festival 2015! The month-long celebration of digital culture in Brighton has returned – offering an exciting selection of workshops, talks, open studios and discussions for our digital & creative community to enjoy. Last year alone featured over 150 events and drew in a crowd of over 45,000 so we are expecting good things for this year’s event.

To kick off the festival, Wired Sussex once again held the CDIT Open Studios week, encouraging their members to get involved by hosting their own events, opening the doors to their studios and inviting the public in to see their creative magic in action.

Our lovely Graphic Designer Fiona managed to visit a number of those studios’ and what a week it was:


Brighton Digital Open Studios review

From building a hovercraft to finding my ‘purpose’, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting just a few of the numerous studios who graciously opened their doors to members of the public, students, graduates and peers so we could find out what goes on behind the scenes at some of Brighton’s most innovative creative, digital & IT companies. 

My CDIT Open Studios week commenced with “Learn how to build a hovercraft in just two hours” kindly run by Bright Interactive, a leading software development company. We were split into three groups and had three opportunities to test our designs against the other two team’s creations. These rounds of testing reflect the way Bright Interactive regularly test their software solutions to aid development. It was a fast paced, interactive session that really hammered home the importance of regular testing. It is regular testing that creates a better product in a shorter timespan. ^Testing our hovercraft designs

Wednesday was a very busy day! In the morning, Rakuten Attribution (formerly DC Storm) who develop and manage marketing performance tools, welcomed us with very tasty bacon sandwiches and drinks. This was followed by a tour of their lovely offices (slightly jealous of their rooftop terrace) and a talk entitled Wake up Wednesday: The Evolution of Attribution (Marketing Analytics). This was hosted in their Think Tank, the walls of which are festooned with colourful marine life illustrations.

We learnt about the importance of identifying audience brand interactions across a range of different media, through the use of tagged content. Through doing so, companies are able to get better returns on their marketing spend by focusing their efforts on successful marketing strategies. The success rate of these said strategies are measured using the tagged content. 

^Rakuten Attribution’s rooftop terrace

After lunch I took part in Propellernet’s workshop titled ‘Purpose in Business’. Initially this involved finding our own purpose by using the diagram below:

^Purpose diagram by Hustle + Grind during the Propellernet workshop

This exercise made the workshop very personal and memorable. It also reflected their ethos nicely. Propellernet invests in their employees and has been widely recognised for doing so, gaining many awards and honours celebrating their focus on supporting employees. I found it really refreshing to learn that they offer employees time off so they can get involved in community projects or progress their study. 

In addition to this, when Propellernet achieve set targets they draw a dream ball from their giant yellow 80’s bubble gum dispenser called the “Dream Machine” and fund the employee’s dream whose name is picked! If that’s not incentive to work hard and make a difference to the world doing what you love, I don’t know what is!

^Propellernet’s brilliant "Dream Machine"

After thinking about our individual purposes, we discussed the importance of businesses having a purpose and what role they play in society. We spilt into groups and developed these ideas.

In my group we discussed how McDonalds could reduce the huge amount of resources needed to meet the demand for meat, by farming edible insects instead, as insects take up far less resources and such farms could be run by communities whose land was lost to cattle farming etc. Also, to reduce McDonald’s carbon footprint, insect farms could be set up around the world to supply local restaurants, farming edible insects that thrive in each of the local habitats.

After legging it across Brighton (in the pouring rain), I was welcomed by the enthusiastic employees of Tilt with an array of cakes (as well as a very cute, cake-hungry studio dog) for lightening talks collectively titled ‘These are a few of our favourite things’ these talks related to the different areas of their business (interactive design, web, film, motion, 3D and print).

Participants were then invited to join a member of the team to chat further about one of these areas. It was a hard choice. I would have loved to have been able to listen to all of them! In the end I joined Tilt’s Business Developer Jonathan Helm for his talk on ‘Delivering a winning pitch’ and picked up some great pointers, such as making sure you have a clear idea of what the client wants (as much as possible).  Discuss timescales and deadlines early on and be creative, think of the big picture; could helping the client in one area lead to further work in the future?

^Rufus, Tilt’s studio dog, a known cake predator

I thoroughly enjoyed each and every studio I visited, They were all incredibly welcoming and knowledgeable. My thirst for knowledge was well and truly quenched. Talking of thirst, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten and drunk so much in such a short time other than Christmas! I was treated to fresh coffee, beers and spirits along with bacon sarnies, pastries, cake and pizza!

I hope my ramblings have wetted your appetite for sampling what Brighton has to offer with its wealth of creative talent which is abundant in the area. Details of Brighton Digital Festival can be found by visiting


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