Semiofest is the main worldwide conference series and event on commercial semiotics. Its focus is on the methods of semiotic analysis which are helpful in solving interpretational conflicts and providing tools for better design of social meaning-making spaces.

History of Semiofest

Semiofest was born out of the desire of the co-founders Chris Arning, Lucia Laurent-Neva and Hamsini Shivakumar to create a platform to celebrate Semiotic thinking. When Chris and Lucia met in 2010, they had spoken of the need for a platform or space where applied Semioticians could meet and exchange knowledge and ideas. Chris had met Charles Leech whilst studying semiotics in Toronto in 2005. At some point in 2011, Charles asked Chris whether he could recommend a semiotics event in order to upgrade his skills. The answer from Chris was, regrettably, that he didn’t know of any such events. The idea was then born to start such an event. It was envisaged back then as a sort of symposium or colloquium and a post was made on the Semiotic Thinking Group on LinkedIn. Many people expressed an interest in the event, but nothing really happened until a number of individuals met up in London in late 2011.

This pioneering group of 5, many of whom were strangers, found that they had a remarkably similar vision for what an applied Semioticians event should be. The team of 5 included Kishore Budha, Design researcher and Senior Lecturer at the University of Leeds as well as Sandra Mardin, a young semiotician working in London.

Past Semiofest Events

The conference have been organized in the following centers (and themes):

  • 2012 – London
  • 2013 – Barcelona
  • 2014 – Shanghai (“Global Meets Local: A Cross-cultural Celebration of Semiotic Thinking”)
  • 2015 – Paris (“Fall in Love with Applied Semiotics”)
  • 2016 – Tallinn (“Semiotics and Culture of Innovation”)
  • 2017 – Toronto (“Media, Messages, and Meanings: Semiotics, Form and Content”)
  • 2018 – Mumbai (“Time of the Signs”)
  • 2020 – Mexico