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The OFFF Barcelona 2024 inspiration report

Inspiration from top creatives including creative coding, immersive video, AI for ideation, and more.

Illustration by Ron Mizrahi.

Profile picture of Aaron Gelbman


5 min read

The Wix Studio design team has just returned from OFFF Barcelona 2024, and even though the event only ran for three days, there were plenty of takeaways to inspire us all year long. 

Shir Berkovitz, brand design team lead for Wix Studio, has attended the events for the last few years and finds inspiration in the “new techniques, on-site collaborations and new relationships that continue even after the event is over.”

Whether or not you were able to attend this year’s event (or even if you did, perhaps you were busy running in circles like a kid in a candy store), this OFFF Barcelona 2024 recap brings you the top lessons we learned from some of the most creative minds. 

Two photos: on the left a photo of a male designer working on an open laptop. On the right an exterior of a building with the word OFFF! on the wall.
On-site at OFFF Barcelona 2024. Photos courtesy of Shir Berkovitz.

01. The most memorable sites are designed by feelings, not by formulas.

When making sites for clients day in and day out, it's common to use a formula that makes your work process more efficient. But too much of the formula creates a sea of similar-looking sites. Browsing the web “you see lots of sites and portfolios,” Berkovitz reflects, “but you will remember the one site that’s different and has something surprising—even if it’s something small.”

Designers can follow the example of Talia Cotton, formerly of Pentagram, who founded her own creative agency and design consultancy called Cotton in New York. Playfulness and surprise—not traditional web best practices—drive Cotton’s creativity. Cotton uses this approach to create on-site experiences that visitors don’t want to leave, at least not until they’ve finished having their fun. Two examples we love:

  • Talia's personal portfolio first appears as very traditional, highly structured and even conservative. But move your cursor or scroll down the page and immediately a playful and whimsical experience takes hold. Elegantly fusing business with artistry and code, it’s a style that’s consistent across Cotton’s body of work.

  • Arrive at the site for the architecture and design practice Almost Studio (created by Cotton) and you are invited to play. The call-to-action “DRAW” is just one of multiple playful moments throughout the site, emblematic of Cotton’s creative coding approach. And yet, this mechanic is more than a creative element. It expresses the essence of the brand itself. To draw, create and reveal are at the heart of Almost Studio’s practice, and for a moment, visitors can share in the joy of their work and mission.

Though at OFFF Barcelona, Cotton elaborated on her use of code—describing her approach as “purposeful design work with code”—these days, it’s not necessary for designers to write custom code to achieve a similar experience. Inspired by Cotton’s techniques, web creators can turn to platforms like Wix Studio for a range of immersive, no-code design capabilities that include scroll effects, mouse effects, hover effects and more. 

What can you do? On your next site project, lead with emotion. What do you want your visitors to feel or which feeling best represents your brand? This way, from the get-go, you can choose the styles and effects that best deliver this. 

Create a site on Wix Studio using code-free animations and effects.

02. The physical world is the most engaging screen, even more than the screens in our pockets.

With Covid trending downward and screen time trending upward, it’s natural that crowds are eager to fill up public spaces for disruptive, larger-than-life entertainment experiences. And for creators, this means the canvas is bigger than ever:

  • Moment Factory makes it clear that public spaces are their canvas of choice, declaring, “We do it in public” as their tagline. Employing video, sound, lighting and technology, the studio projects three-dimensional, 360-degree immersive experiences in and on public spaces—notably AURA Invalides at (or rather, on) Les Invalides in Paris. Each curve, pillar and negative space of the 17th-century building is treated like a screen. At times the video and light projections pay homage to the historic architecture, while at other times they dominate the space in a delirious and flamboyant spectacle. 

  • The Museum of the Future in Dubai sounds like a contradiction—using its physical space to display the not-yet-physical future. But seeing that we’re already accustomed to AI, cryptocurrencies and lab-grown meat, how much of the future will be physical anyway? At the museum, visitors can wander through an immersive environment of neon lights, 3D galactic projections and glowing operation panels. Each interaction with the museum’s digital content carries a meaningful lesson on future technologies, specimens and ecosystems. Armed with this knowledge, there’s hope that visitors—and potentially the wider human race—will feel more connected to our future world and its preservation.

What can you do? As demonstrated in the examples above, find a new interpretation of your goal or design. “Guidelines shouldn’t be closed,” Berkovitz suggests, “they should be dynamic.” Consider how you can use new styles to evolve your brand, or new technologies to engage your audience beyond the typical web browsers, social feeds and streaming platforms. 

03. Nothing impresses digital creatives like physical, handmade designs.

For a while now, we’ve seen the growth of online designs inspired by offline styles, such as handwriting fonts and cutout collages. At OFFF Barcelona, we met creators who have gone one step further by taking one step back, and who eschew digital tools in favor of get-your-hands-dirty, fully physical creation. For some of us, the handmade approach is nostalgic (flashback to Sesame Street and Wallace and Gromit). But for others—in particular, creators who were trained to use software and computers from the get-go—it’s a shifting mindset in favor of tactile production.

Netherlands-based studios Studio Mals and Setreset Films specialize in stop motion animation and lift the hood on their handmade production process. Visit their websites or Instagram pages and you’ll see the craftsmanship that brings everything to life—from sewing and spraying, to assembling and hanging. At OFFF Barcelona 2024, the duo debuted a short film (and shared some behind-the-scenes shots) that excited us about what’s possible when we ditch trackpads for our bare hands. “When you see the handmade details and all the physical elements of the video’s entire process, you’re reminded of another way to create. Their process spanned multiple categories of creation: writing, sculpting, building, filming, editing and beyond. We were all really excited by their video,” recalls Berkovitz. 

What can you do? Look up from your screens and explore the offline world for inspiration, materials and techniques. What would you discover if you closed your laptop and began your next wireframe with pen and paper? What new color could you create by mixing paints instead of plugging in hex numbers?

04. It’s ok to use AI (as part of your process).

Countless creative professionals are sharing their positive experiences about using AI as part of their workflow. But it’s important to remember that AI is a human-centric tool—it will only be as good as your prompts, and, as Berkovitz confirms, “it’s up to you [the designer] to add your own layers and influence” to create a fully formed design.

Vincent Schwenk, a 3D artist from Hamburg, Germany, shared how he uses visual AI as a starting point and then takes the reins to develop his projects further. To date, Schwenk has been very transparent about his fascination and concerns with AI. On Instagram, he documents his experience using Midjourney to replicate his own designs—and the outcome is reassuring. The resulting images bear a resemblance to Schwenk’s work and can serve as a starting point for more development. But they are far from finished and lack the originality, spontaneity and depth of their original counterparts. Ultimately, AI does not compete or replace human creativity, it simply assists. 

What can you do? Try one of the myriad AI tools out there, whether it’s an AI tool for web design or AI for creativity and ideation. You can even build a custom GPT that you can use repeatedly. The bottom line is that these tools are here. They aren’t going to disappear, and even the most experienced creatives are using them for impressive results. 

Learn more about Wix Studio's AI tools that generate website images, responsive layouts, SEO tags and more.

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