Things to do in June: the best design events happening this month

Our picks this month include a festival in Birmingham, the fourth London Design Biennale, a book on the history of dyes and a digital experience celebrating the Minimoog.

London Design Biennale 2023

The fourth edition of London Design Biennale is titled The Global Game: Remapping Collaborations, exploring new forms of collaboration and participatory design across borders. The theme was chosen by this year’s artistic director, Aric Chen of Het Nieuwe Institut.

A less expected subject tackled by the exhibitors is that of Austria’s pavilion, which explores bread making. While a simple food staple, things become a bit more complex when you get down to the matters of geopolitical context and microbiological processes. “Multi-sensory experiences” during the event take the form of bread-making workshops.

Science and design come together in Automorph Network’s exploration of how nature generates variation rather than homogeneity, taking it as an example to suggest what designers – and humanity more widely – can gain from working with difference.

The first humanitarian pavilion is a collaboration between architect Shigeru Ban, Ukrainian-born poet, novelist and literary translator Svetlana Lavochkina, and Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov. ‘Paper Sanctuary’ uses Ban’s paper shelters to create space for privacy, dignity and hope.

Also taking place is the Eureka exhibition, which brings together a wide variety of design researchers from across UK universities.

London Design Biennale takes place at Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA, from 1-25 June 2023. Find more information and tickets on the Biennale website.

Online experience: Minimoog factory by Yuri Suzuki

Pentagram partner Yuri Suzuki has designed a digital experience to celebrate the 70th anniversary and rerelease of analogue synthesiser the Minimoog Model D – heard on Kraftwerk’s Autobahn album, Bob Marley’s Catch a Fire and David Bowie’s Low, to name just a few examples.

Launched on Bob Moog’s birthday (23 May), the experience designed, by Suzuki, is inspired by 90s video games and websites.

Carefully crafted sections include the Jukebox, where you can play 45 songs that used the Minimoog; the Practice Room, where you can have a go at creating, saving and sharing your own compositions; the Archives, which tell the history of the synthesisers design and its impact on music; and the Theatre, where visitors can see the Minimoog in use on stage and in studios.

The Build-a-Synth section allows for printing and “building” a mini Minimoog, and Face Synth is an Instagram filter that uses facial expressions and body movements to trigger the synthesiser’s controls.

The digital experience is now live and can be accessed on a dedicated website. 

Birmingham Design Festival and conference


The UK’s second-largest city is hosting a two-day festival on design this month. An additional one-day conference within the festival will feature speakers such as Brian Collins, chief creative officer of brand experience design company Collins; designer and illustrator Marta Cerda Alimbau; Lego Group global brand director Sonal Jhuj, Comuzi co-founder and principal designer Lex Fefegha; and lettering and mural designer Gemma O’Brien.

Across the festival, Monotype will also be presenting its annual type trends report, Gulp founder Kaye Winwood will be hosting a sensory food workshop and a festival social will take place from 8pm on the Thursday.

Careers-focused events include a portfolio review session and a panel on routes into the design industry with Design Council’s chief design officer Cat Drew, Birmingham City University lecturer Jane Anderson, G.F. Smith brand director Ben Watkinson, Monotype creative director Phil Garnham and artist Venessa Scott.

Birmingham Design Festival will take place across the city on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 June 2023. For tickets and information, visit the festival website.

Book: In Pursuit of Colour

Alizarin dye process at the Bayer Leverkusen plant, 1961. Courtesy of Bayer AG, Bayer Archives Leverkusen.

In Pursuit of Colour: From Fungi to Fossil Fuels: Uncovering the Origins of the World’s Most Famous Dyes is a new book by Lauren MacDonald exploring the rich and turbulent history of dyes.

MacDonald, an anthropologist, artist and designer, first embarked on this project after seeing a 2017 viral video of a pack of indigo-dyed dogs emerged from Mumbai’s Kasadi river. The book showcases the folk practices and natural substances that have dyed cloth over centuries, to the fossil-fuel powered processes of the present day.

Its archive imagery of specimens and fibres, people foraging and working in laboratories accompanies tales of the lengths to which humans have pursued colourful pigments, from extracting substances from the glands of a sea snail for the most valuable purple, to transporting cacti across mountains to protect the rare source of a particular scarlet hue.

Available in three different colourways, the book also includes a 32-page supplement on the practical chemistry behind dyeing processes.

In Pursuit of Colour: From Fungi to Fossil Fuels by Lauren MacDonald will be published on 27 June 2023 by Atelier Éditions and D.A.P .To preorder, visit the publishers’ website

Workshop: Socioeconomic Diversity in Creative Industries: Who’s Missing?


Creative Mentor Network is hosting a workshop for those working in design and other creative disciplines to introduce the value and importance of socioeconomic diversity in the creative industries. Taking place in Projects’ Brighton co-working space on 14 June, the session will outline and share information about the current state of socioeconomic diversity in creative industries and the barriers from entering the industry.

This will inform interactive workshops to help attendees identify the changes they can make in their own businesses to make it to make them more socioeconomically diverse.

The free-to-attend workshop will take place between 11am and 12pm on 14 June 2023, at Projects The Lanes, Nile Street, Brighton and Hove, BN1 1HW. Find the Eventbrite link here.

Banner image from Canterbury Christ Church University, participating in Eureka at the London Design Biennale 2023.

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