Picks of the month: the best design events to catch in March

Despite coronavirus-prompted cancellations, there’s still plenty to do this month from a Tom of Finland retrospective to a new Lego product.

Event: Ladies, Wine & Design Scotland

Ladies, Wine & Design (LWD) was set up by New York-based designer Jessica Walsh (who last year split from Sagmeister & Walsh to start her own studio, &Walsh). The global non-profit (it’s present in over 200 across the world) aims to help female and non-binary designers internally through a series of talks and meetings; currently it’s estimated that only 12-16% of creative directors are female. LWD Scotland — set across Edinburgh and Glasgow — will bring a Scottish edge to proceedings, and a speaking line-up that includes Briana Pegado (Creative Edinburgh), Alex Durusel-Baker (Creative Mornings), Kat Loudon (Design by Zag) and Nat Maher (Pollitt & Partners and Kerning the Gap). Workshops include calligraphy classes, embellishment and bookbinding. A note on the name: Wine is welcome, but not a necessity.

When: 28 March.

For more information, including locations and ticket prices, please check the website.

Book: Virgin by Design

Virgin turns 50 this year, and to celebrate its birthday, a new book has been published to take a look at the company’s creative culture. It’s taking a look at the brand side of things specifically, from its beginning as a record store right up to its present as (hopeful) pioneers of space tourism. That evolution speaks to the breadth of Virgin’s services, from travel, financial services, health and wellbeing to entertainment. The business now operates 60 companies, in 35 countries, and employs around 70,000 people. The book, which is visually-led and contains early designs, hopes to get at the heart of what makes the company (and its branding) unique.

When: The book is available nationwide on 26 March.

More info: Virgin by Design, by Nick Carson, is published by Thames & Hudson and costs £39.95.

Product: Lego Dots

In January, Camille Walala designed the Lego House of Dots in London’s Coal Drops Yard. The installation — which features a giant slide — was a pre-cursor to the toy company’s latest product launch, its 2D tile-based play product, Lego Dots. The range includes over 30 ‘mood tiles’ (facial expressions and music notes, for example) which kids can use to design their own products, from pencil pots to jewellery and photo holders. As well as creating a new generation of product designers, Lego hopes that the range will help children explore their feelings.

When: The range is available 1 March, and prices range from £3.99 — £17.99.

Talk: Natsai Audrey Chieza

Chieza is the founder and director of Faber Future, a London-based biodesign lab. This month she’s speaking at the Design Museum about how the industry can work with living systems to help reckon with environmental issues such as pollution and climate change. Increasingly, these issues are being seen as a problem with multidisciplinary solutions — we’ve covered how biomimicry is a driving force in design and the ways in which indigenous practices can inform creative processes — and Chieza is no different. At last week’s Design Indaba, she showed how to grow microbes directly onto fabrics to dye them — without the use of water of chemicals.

When: March 6 202, 6pm — 8pm.

Info: Tickets are free.

Exhibition: When Brands Take a Stand

The Museum of Brands’ latest exhibition is all about when brands have taken a stand. Those causes might differ — diversity, inclusion, the environment — but the exhibition has a common thread: looking at ways in which brands use their not inconsiderable influence. It’s not a simple issue, of course. There are issues around appropriation and authenticity and simple clumsiness on behalf of brands. “We present the debate between brands, people, culture and society, and how these interact with each other,” the museum’s CEO Chris Griffin says. “Brands and advertising agencies have a platform to influence, and with that comes responsibility. This initiative dives into these complex relationships.”

When: 10 March 2020 — 31 October 2020.

More info: Ticket information and timings are available on the website.

Other things to catch:

  • Honey Dijon: Black Girl Magic celebrates six black female music icons which have been chosen by artist and DJ Honey Dijon. The names include Diana Ross, Grace Jones and Sade. The medium is neon; large-scale, and designed by artist Marina Esmeraldo. Prints of the artwork will be available at the exhibition, which takes place at Dover Street Market, 18 — 22 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4DG.
  • Tom of Finland: Love and Liberation explores the gay cultural icon’s work — it’s his first UK public solo show — with 40 works on paper (some of which have never been publicly displayed before). See it from 6 March at the House of Illustration, 2 Granary Square, London, N1C 4BH.
  • Kate Dawkins, the designer behind the giant 360-degree ‘audience pixels’ for the London 2012 Olympic ceremonies, will be speaking at Pentagram about creating digital content for live shows. Her clients include Nike, the MTV European Music Awards and Elton John. The talk takes place 19 March at Pentagram, 11 Needham Road, London, W11 2RP.
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