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Semi Permanent Festival of Creativity and Design Is Returning to Wellington This November

Get ready for three huge days of inspiration, education and creative celebration.
By Emma Clark-Dow
September 05, 2023
By Emma Clark-Dow
September 05, 2023

Creative industry celebration Semi Permanent Festival of Creativity and Design is returning to Pōneke Wellington from Wednesday, November 8 to Friday, November 10 for three huge days of expert panel discussions, keynote speakers, workshops and demonstrations at St James Theatre.

Now in its 21st year, Semi Permanent is the largest festival of this kind in the southern hemisphere, providing a space for creatives and innovators to share their expertise with rising stars, and allowing Kiwis to make connections throughout the creative industry.

There's a huge range of talent in the 2023 lineup, all sitting under the umbrella of this year's theme: reformation. Each year, the Semi Permanent team picks a theme that reflects society's challenges at this moment in time. Mitchell Oakely Smith, the festival's global Creative Director said this year's theme was about redesigning the world "in a shape we'd like to see".

"We thought the world would seek to build itself back as it was, but it's increasingly clear that our collective future cannot — nor should not— look anything like its past,"

"One look around will tell you the seeds have already been sown: the promise of a borderless Web3 world; the reclaiming of time via remote work capabilities; the dismantling of industrial hierarchies and traditions that prioritised some consistently over others."

"In its place, something new is beginning to emerge: new creative languages, new ways to communicate, to create, organise, disrupt, rebuild."

The lineup features talented creatives from Aotearoa and across the world, including Filipino-Māori recording artist Ta-ku, who will be giving audience members a sneak peek into his creative processes, which does not just apply to music but photography, videography, and design, just to name a few.

New Zealand-born fashion journalist powerhouse Meghan Kapoor will be spilling her secrets to success as editor of Vogue India, and discussing how she was headhunted by the one and only Anna Wintour.

Plus, Mean Girls fans (read: anyone who grew up in the early 2000s) might recognise Rajiv Surendra, who played the geeky but charismatic Mathlete/rapper Kevin G. However, that isn't what he's here to talk about. Instead, he'll be sharing his reformation into a modern-day, male version of Martha Stewart, excelling in crafts like calligraphy, pottery and chalk art — all of which he masters on his successful YouTube channel on which shows the viewer how to "turn the mundane into magical moments".


Alexandra Popova — Senior Director of Personalisation and Future of Content, adidas, Amsterdam
Ben Grandgenett — Design Director, The New York Times Magazine, New York
Constantine Gavrykov — Senior Global Director of Product Design, Decathlon, Amsterdam
Emma Lewisham — Founder, Emma Lewisham, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
Eva Kruse — Chief Global Engagement Officer, PANGAIA, and Founder, Global Fashion Agenda, London
James Ford — Artist and Creative Director, Silverstripe, Pōneke Wellington
Justin Kamine — Co-Founder and CEO, Do Good Foods, New York
Leyla Acaroglu — CEO & Founder The UnSchool, Swivel Skills & Disrupt Design and Chief Circular Designer, Circular Australia, London
Maru Nihoniho — Founder and Managing Director, Metia Interactive, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
Megha Kapoor — Head of Editorial Content, Vogue India, Mumbai
Mike Hewson — Visual Artist, Sydney
Ophelia & Ryder Jones — Visual Artists, Hakaru, Te Tai Tokerau
Rajiv Surendra — Artist, Author, Designer and Video Host, New York
Ruby Jones — Illustrator, Pōneke Wellington
Simon Devitt — Photographer, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
Ta-ku — Recording Artist, Creative Director and Photographer, Perth
Tyrone Ohia — Founder and Creative Director, Extended Whānau, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Semi Permanent has held over 50 events in 13 cities across its 20-year reign, with 800 talented creatives speaking at these events, and 300,000 people attending. The Wellington-based iteration will be held at St James Theatre on November 8–10, with tickets available on the festival's website.

Published on September 05, 2023 by Emma Clark-Dow
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