Picks of the month: the best design events of November

With news of a second national lockdown, it’s a month of virtual events from design festivals to “paint with fonts” classes.

Online festival: Design Manchester

The annual Manchester-based festival is “going global, while staying local” this year, with commissions targeting the current (not inconsiderable) industry challenges. While events will be held online, the celebration of design has partnered with international groups from Berlin to Barcelona. There’s the Go Global, Stay Local workshop online interactive experience, held via Patrick Thomas and Jonathan Auch’s Open Collab platform. Scale-up Sessions is a series of events for SMEs and start-ups, which opens with the appropriately-named event: “Pandemic stations: WTF do we do now?” It’s not all panic though. At MODA-FAD, Design Manchester and the British Council are partnering with Barcelona Design Week on a project which invites 40 students from Spain and the UK to develop design and fashion projects “that focus on gender perspective”.

Design Manchester takes place 12–16 November. For more information, visit the website.


Pop-up museum: Belfast Design Week

Last year’s Belfast Design Week

Another festival that has pivoted to virtual, Belfast Design Festival is taking its 2020 theme of “Environment” online this year. All the events are free, and cover sectors including User Experience (UX), branding as well as video game design. One of the most exciting elements is the Pop Up Design Museum which will be opening its “virtual doors” at the start of the festival. Designers in and around Belfast will be contributing “some very special pieces” around this year’s theme. These remain under wraps (though promise to touch on areas of interest such as the political environment and urban design) and will be available to view digitally on the website.

Belfast Design Week takes place 2–8 November. For more information, visit the website.


Digital exhibition: Global Grad Show 2020

Fabien Roy’s Robust Nest

Global Grad Show will reveal 100 grad projects in a digital exhibition format, as part of Dubai Design Week. It will be fully-curated event: you will be able to interact directly with the graduates, and check out their prototypes and research material. The event also aims to display design trends and there will be a “global heat map” which shows where ideas and issues are “trending” across the world. While the projects are all under wraps, expect to see projects which address health and environmental issues.

Global Grad Show goes live 9 November. For more information about the platform, visit the website.


Creative workshops: Type Tasting classes

Type Tasting’s Sarah Hyndman is back with another series of interactive workshops exploring the world of typography. Building off the summer’s events, these Zoom events take an eclectic approach to the world of fonts. There’s a class about the writing found on chocolate packaging (including the opportunity to build your own letterforms) as well as the chance to “create your own sonic alphabet” in a session that explores how sound inspires an alphabet. The first event, “urban letter safari”, will teach people how to draw their own fonts as they learn about their origins.

Tickets start at £5 and more information can be found here.


Online symposium: Design with the Living 2020

Ecologic Studio

“Can designing with living systems be the change we need in the context of today’s current environmental and ecological challenges?” That’s the question London’s Design Museum is asking, with the return of its annual symposium about biodesign. It explores how this area of design can develop across global regions and meet the demands of an ever-changing world. There are four sessions to address this, including one that “sees nature as a partner, rather than a resource” and one that asks what we can learn from plant systems. It is co-organised by the British Council, Design & Living Systems Lab (Central Saint Martins UAL), and the Bio ID Lab (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL).

It takes place 5–6 November and tickets are available online.


Tradeshow: Decorex online

For the first time in its history, the Decorex tradeshow is going virtual. Visitors will be able to all the collections online, which would normally be displayed at a four-day event in London. Highlights include “handmade steam-bent wooden furniture” from Angus Ross as well as “sinuous sculptural ceramics” from Katherine Staples. You will be also able to book appointments with the creatives behind the projects.

Decorex online takes place 17–19 November. For more information, visit the website.


Book: Decorative Art 1960s and Decorative Art 1950s, by Taschen

Drawn from the Decorative Art Studio Yearbook, these two new releases highlight the “most memorable designs” from two transformative decades: the 1950s and 60s. From the “post-war rebuilding” in the 1950s to the later “florid excesses of the hippie era”, these titles show how societal trends (such as the explosion in suburban living as well as material innovations such as latex) shaped design, from textiles to furniture to interiors and graphics.

The books are available in November, published by Taschen.

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