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Digital Frontiers: KOBU Agency at Digital Thinkers Conference 2023

In the heart of Amsterdam, where innovation pulses through age-old canals, the Awwwards Digital Thinkers Conference 2023 welcomed part of our team for two intense days in early October 2023 to explore the boundaries of technology, design, and thought leadership. The conference, known for its blend of advanced tech discussions and deeply engaging creative narratives, offered a platform unlike any other where different perspectives met: from cutting-edge AI-based solutions to philosophical debates on the future and the role of digital media.


If I can sum up one key message from this conference is “in this business, there are really no wrong ways of doing things – the important thing is to find your own way, the one that works for you and your clients

Karolina Guilherme, head of digital

KOBU Agency joined the event, represented by Nuno (founder and managing partner), Karolina (head of digital), Marta (creative director) and Daniel (senior ui/ux designer). As we navigated through the event, each session and informal conversation, it became clear that more than just a learning experience, the Digital Thinkers Conference is a mirror that reflects the current state of affairs on everything digital, challenging our perceptions and inspiring new ideas.

It’s always exciting to see what our fellow creatives of the web are up to. It leaves us with the motivation to reflect on our projects and have some new takes to push it further. I did like to hear the more positive take on AI in some of the talks – in contrast to what I mostly hear – despite the natural concerns, i’m excited too see the potencial of some of these new tools and how they shape the industry.

Daniel Gomes, senior ui/ux designer

In the second part of this article, we delve into key insights and inspirations gleaned from this event, encapsulating the essence of what it means to be at the forefront of digital thought leadership in 2023.

1. Embracing tomorrow, today

The word ‘futurist’ often evokes visions of tech prophets predicting robotic takeovers or virtual utopias. But at the Awwwards Digital Thinkers Conference, it became clear that being a futurist is a present-centric endeavor. It’s about understanding current technologies, cultural shifts, and human behaviours to actively shape the forthcoming landscape. Instead of passive predictions, we witnessed a collective urge to mold a future that’s inclusive, intuitive, and immensely innovative. To be a futurist, then, is to be an active participant in the story of tomorrow.

Two of the talks I liked the most were those of Jon Way, Creative Director and Designer, and Alicia Shao: their talks breathed creativity, but, more than that, they reflected on internal, psychological and philosophical issues. The intersection of these themes left me quite surprised and inspired.

Marta Gouveia, creative director

2. Narrative over Noise

In the modern world, where brands jostle for attention in every digital nook and cranny, there’s an unsettling cacophony. However, the conference shed light on the nuanced art of branded content. It’s not about volume; it’s about voice. The most memorable brands weave stories – intricate, emotive, and resonant. They speak to hearts, not just eyes and ears. The magic lies not in how loudly a brand can shout, but in the tales it tells, the memories it crafts, and the connections it nurtures. In essence, effective branding in the digital age requires a masterful balance of presence and subtlety.

3. Branding to the core

Logos, colours, and taglines are but the superficial elements of branding. Dive deeper, and there’s a universe of intent, belief, and purpose. Sessions at the conference urged brands to be more than visual entities. They should be emotional touchpoints, philosophical anchors. A brand that resonates is one that stands for something, offers meaning beyond commercial intent. Whether it’s sustainability, innovation, or community building, brands today must define their core, their raison d’être, and then radiate this essence in every interaction.

4. Redefining digital experiences through tech

The digital realm is undergoing a silent renaissance, reshaped by emerging technologies. Be it the realism infused by photogrammetry, the democratisation ushered in by ‘no-code’ or ‘low-code’ solutions, or the immersive experiences promised by gaming integrations – technology is not just an enabler; it’s a muse. The conference spotlighted these innovations, showcasing the transformative potential they hold. It’s an era where websites aren’t just informational portals but immersive experiences, where users aren’t mere visitors but participants in a narrative that integrates them.

5. Authenticity’s undying allure

In an age of digitization, where replicability is easy, authenticity becomes the golden fleece. The conference reverberated with the importance of embracing one’s ‘weird’, of showcasing authenticity. Brands and designers were urged to wear their idiosyncrasies with pride. It’s these quirks, these unique narratives, and unapologetic presentations that truly captivate. Authenticity, it turns out, is not just about being real; it’s about being raw, vulnerable, and profoundly human in a digital world. As Marta noticed: “One of the things I found most relevant over the two days of the conference was the possibility of witnessing different ways of thinking, which look at creativity through different lenses. This wealth of thought is enriching and inspiring, at the same time as shows the potential of the idea, its development and impact. One of the messages that sticks in my head is “Don’t follow the trends. Know they exist, but make it different.

6. Megatrends: echoes of the Future

Megatrends aren’t fleeting fads; they’re the seismic shifts that promise to reshape landscapes. From the empowerment promised by Femtech to the virtual dimensions opened by Spacial Computing, the horizon of possibilities is expansive. Sustainability, Open science, Privacy, Mental wellbeing, Green tech: more then just buzzwords, these trends aren’t just technological trajectories but socio-cultural evolutions. They intertwine with societal needs, aspirations, and challenges, heralding a future that’s as technologically advanced as it is human-centric.

7. AI: The Silent Revolution

Artificial Intelligence and its tools traversed many of the talks at Digitals Thinkers Conference. Sessions demystified AI, showcasing its potential to enhance user experiences, streamline processes, and spark creativity. It’s clear that as we move forward, AI will be the silent symphony orchestrating a harmonious dance of technology, design, and human intent. Karolina was particularly interested in the talk by Peter Smart, from Fantasy: “I really loved the talk by Peter on “The Future of Design with AI”. We’ve heard so much about AI recently, but this talk had something different as it explored cutting edge implementations that will revolutionise how we as creatives work – I can’t wait to test the Synthetic Humans app that Peter showcased. He managed to engages us, showing that the future will be amazing, not scary.

As the curtains close on the Awwwards Digital Thinkers Conference 2023 in Amsterdam, we at KOBU Agency step back into the world enriched and inspired. As we reflect on the myriad of insights from Awwwards Amsterdam 2023, we’re excited to apply these into the work we do.

And believe me, we’ll do it.

Learn more about Digital Thinkers Conference here:

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Nuno Tenazinha