Picks of the month: the best design events in March 2021

With an end to lockdown in sight, the online-only events in our March round-up could be some of the last. Here’s what’s going on.

Workshop: London Drawing x London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum is home to some 2,000 original poster designs from creatives like Man Ray, Dora M. Batty and Edward McKnight Kauffer. On 11 March, these artefacts will be the focus of a drawing workshop held by the museum and arts organisation London Drawing.

The online interactive workshop will include an introduction to the poster collection from senior museum curator Georgia Morley. No artistic experience is required, and organisers are not being prescriptive when it comes to materials – create with traditional pens and pencils, or opt for a medium a bit different, like collage.

Tickets are free for the family-friendly evening event, but must be booked in advance. You can do so here.


Exhibition: GROP, by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon

Images L-R: Why? Why Not? 2017; Supercloud 21 2020; Mother of all Superclouds 2018. Images courtesy of Solomon and von Bartha

Graphic designer Barbara Stauffacher Solomon began her career in the 1950s and hasn’t stopped creating since. Now 93-years-old, her latest exhibition will launch on 6 March at the von Bartha gallery in Basel, Switzerland.

Last month, Design Week spoke to Solomon about her celebrated career. Starting out as a ballet dancer and an artist, she was widowed with a young daughter to look after. Needing to make money from her creative talent, she moved from San Francisco to Basel to study under acclaimed designer Armin Hofmann. The rest, including her landmark Sea Ranch supergraphics project, is history.

The exhibition will showcase 40 drawings from the designer, created between the 1980s and 2021. The title of the exhibition itself, GROP, is an acronym for Green Rectangle of Paradise, which is both a key work in the show, and a recurring motif in Solomon’s work. The idea refers to her “preoccupation with utopia and making the invisible, visible”.

The exhibition will be open to the public in line with local coronavirus guidelines. For those unable to travel, there will also be an online viewing of the show, which you can learn more about here.


Book: Patented: 1,000 Design Patents

For an applicant to lodge a design patent with the US Patent Office, they must provide a drawing of the idea or invention they want to claim as their own. A look into the organisation’s archives can provide some of the earliest glimpses of innovations that have changed the world as we know it today.

Architectural designer Thomas Rinaldi’s new book, published by Phaidon on 4 March, examines these sketches, from kitchen appliances and mobile phones, to radios, scooters, pens and more. The black and white doodles are surprisingly uniform, despite their vastly different subject matter.

Rinaldi’s book is comprehensive, with 1,000 patents in total. And it covers all manner of patent filers too, from film director Francis Ford Coppola, to legendary musician Prince and notable designers like Raymond Loewy and Dieter Rams.

Patented will be published on 4 March in the UK, priced at £29.95. To learn more about the book or to pre-order, head here.


Conversation: Design in the Diaspora, Sarah Kwan x V&A Dundee

Design in the Diaspora is an ongoing Instagram live series conducted by V&A Dundee, exploring Scottish creatives’ impact on culture. This month’s conversation will take place on 7 March, and will focus on Edinburgh-based illustrator Sarah Kwan.

Kwan is a freelance illustrator whose style is characterised by decorative patterns and pops of colour. She has exhibited at both the Royal Scottish Academy and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Above is an interview Kwan did with BBC Scotland, discussing her process.

Host Maryam Deeni will use the live conversation to find out more about Kwan and her practice, while also exploring “the nuanced feelings of identity” that come with her Scottish and Chinese heritage.

The free-to-view half-hour discussion will include a Q&A and will take place on Instagram Live. Find out more here.


Festival: Mobile UX London

While closer than it has been in months, the prospect of in-person festivals is still a little way off for us in March. Until then, groups like Mobile UX London are looking to repeat the success of its inaugural event in 2020 with a five-day online festival dedicated to all things UX design. Above is footage from the group’s last in-person festival, to give a sense of what is in store.

A total of 18 renowned speakers will top the bill at the event, held from 22 to 26 March, including designers from Disney, Google, Uber Eats, Shopify and IBM. These practitioners will deliver talks across three main themes in 2021: the future of UX, ethics in UX and health and wellbeing.

Day four and five of the festival will feature workshops held by industry pros, offering virtual attendees the chance to learn from each other and network at the same time with people from across the global UX design community.

Festival passes start from £29.00, and here’s where you can find out the details.


Talk: Design for Social Justice in a time of displacement, in three conversations

In this three-part online presentation series hosted via the Creative Skills Network, design practitioners Simon Hamilton and Laetitia Wolff share their experience of careers in design through the lens of social justice.

Expect deep stories, jokes, notes and career tips which go some way towards exploring their personal experiences with cultural displacement, career pivots and careers in a time of crisis.

The three hour-long online talks will be held on 11, 18 and 25 March, costing £5.00 each for a ticket. Each will tackle a different part of the social justice conversation, from advocacy and effective inclusive design, to bringing purpose to life.

For more info, head here.


Don’t miss…

Ardagh Young Creatives mentorship scheme deadline: As part of its mission to challenge the lack of diversity in the design industry, the Design Museum is welcoming up to 30 young people aged between 14 and 16 from under-represented groups to explore a career in design and all its facets.

Learning will take place through workshops, where young people will be supported in their vision to design a better world. The deadline for applying for the scheme is 15 March, so head here to find out more.

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