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

Our pick of design-related activities and releases this month include a new podcast on book cover design, the third Design for Planet Festival and an exhibition on skateboards.

Design for Planet, 17-18 October

The Design Council’s flagship environmental event, Design for Planet returns for the third time in 2023, just ahead of the next United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28). Located at the University of East Anglia, the free two-day event will feature a packed schedule of talks from designers as well as experts in industries from mobility, policy, energy and education.

Topic focuses include Repairability, AI and design, Designing Regeneratively and Inclusivity in Innovation. Key notes will come from Will Drury of Innovate UK, Rosie Murphy of Architects Climate Action Network and Bas van Abel of Fairphone, with closing remarks from Design Council CEO Minnie Moll.

A variety of event formats will attempt to parse the biggest challenges of today and how design might be able to help. Across the two days, panel discussions, in-conversation and roundtable formats, will take place in person at UAE, with many also streamed online.

Design for Planet F2023 will take place from 17-18 October 2023 at The Enterprise Centre, University of East Anglia Research Park, University Dr, Norwich NR4 7TJ. For more information visit the website.

Podcast: Cover Meeting

Cover Meeting is a podcast dedicated to book design, launched by designer Steve Leard. In the opening episode, Leard speaks to David Pearson about his time as a designer for Penguin Books, working conditions as a freelance book designer and how he tries to push the potential of cover design.

The second episode saw cover designer and illustrator Micaela Acaino, discuss her working life encompassing stints at Penguin Random House and HarperCollins, and after turning freelance in 2018 winning Designer of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2022. Third was art director, designer and illustrator James Paul Jones, whose work has been recognised by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the Type Directors Club, Design Observer, the ABCD awards and the World Illustration Awards.

Guests to come include Zoe Norvell, Jamie Keenan, Mike Dempsey, Suzanne Dean and Tree Abraham.

While providing insight into one particular niche of design – with Leard and his guests discussing process, inspirations and thoughts on cover design – many of the issues discussed on the podcast are relevant for the wider design industry, from pay to rights and the challenges and opportunities posed by AI.

Episodes of Cover Meeting are released weekly and can be listened to on various platforms here.

Exhibition: Skateboard, from 20 October

Makaha Kick Tail, 1969 Photo Caleb J Adams

Skateboard, opening 20 October 2023 is the UK’s first major exhibition charting the design evolution of skateboards. Its opening coincides with the one-year countdown to the Paris Olympic Games 2024 – the second Olympic Games to feature skateboarding after its debut at Tokyo 2020.

Curated by industrial designer, author (and skateboarder) Jonathan Olivares, the exhibition will feature Tony Hawk and Sky Brown’s first professional boards and will cover the skateboard-heavy culture of California as well as the UK’s own scene.

Boards from the 1950s to the present day, and from the “humble” and homemade to the highly advanced will all be on show, as well as DVDS magazines, VHS tapes and other cultural ephemera.

Half the skateboards in the exhibition will be on loan from the Skateboarding Hall of Fame Museum in California, the world’ first museum dedeicated to skateboarding. This will be its largest ever loan to the UK.

Skateboard is on at the Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG from 20 October 2023 – 02 June 2024. For more information and tickets visit the website.

British Ceramics Biennial, until 5 November

Photo Fabio De Paola

Until 5 November, the British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) will take place in Stoke-on-Trent, comprising exhibitions, installations and events across the city.

The festival hub at All Saints Church in Hanley – a church “built by the potters, for the potters” – will host the Biennial’s flagship exhibitions Award and Fresh. In the former, ten of the UK’s most innovative ceramic artists are exhibiting work entered into a £10,000 prize:  Rebecca Appleby, Ranti Bam, Copper Sounds, Rebecca Griffiths, Dan Kelly, Elspeth Owen, Carrie Reichardt, Mella Shaw, Jasmine Simpson and Nicola Tassie. The latter showcases the work of 25 emerging talents from the UK and Ireland.

Participating artists include Osman Yousefzada, William Cobbing, Emilie Taylor and Stephen Dixon, while an international dimension comes through the partnership with the Indian Ceramics Triennale and artist Neha Gawand Pullarwar, who presents a series of works exploring the Industrial Revolution and colonial links between Stoke-on-Trent and Bombay Province, Mumbai.

A series of public events engage with the local community as well as BCB visitors. Year-round projects include the Recast addiction recovery programme and youth-led project Transferer, while a public workshop exploring local tile making and environmental sustainability in ceramics will take place during BCB.

The British Ceramics Biennial takes place across Stoke-on-Trent until 5 November 2023. For more information and tickets visit the website.

Dutch Design Week 21-29 October, Eindhoven

Dutch Design Week, the “largest design event in Northern Europe”, will be taking place across the city of Eindhoven from 21-29 October.

The theme for this year is Picture This: Let’s turn the tide! – looking to design for how to transition to a better future. Ten programme narratives will shape the broad array of events, exhibitions and talks taking place across the city.

A sub-theme, Missions, represents the major challenges that design is looking to tackle from equality, health & well-being, digital future and design for a thriving planet.

Design Perspectives features talks and more from studios working at the forefront of their fields, with highlights including Nienke Helder and The Pelvic People’s research into pelvic health and pain-free sex; Next Nature’s exhibition Spacefarming, looking at how the future of food can look to feed an estimated global population of 10 billion by 2050; and Zalán Szakács explores the links between mysticism and technology with a light installation in the water-flooded basement of Koelhuis Eindhoven, interpreting unrealised technical drawings from four centuries ago through current technologies.

A third section of larger group exhibitions, Cluster, features the Design Academy Eindhoven’s Graduation Show 2023.

Dutch Design Week takes place from 21-29 October in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. More information and tickets can be found here.

Clerkenwell Design Trail, 4-5 October

Following on from Clerkenwell Design Week in May, the area’s design studios and showrooms open their doors once again for Clerkenwell Design Trail, which takes place on 4 and 5 October.

As well as numerous product launches across the two days, also happening are talks and events. On 5 October at 11am is Wayfinding in an Equal World, a RIBA-approved continuous professional development (CPD) talk, providing in-depth information about the latest regulations and performance criteria for wayfinding signage schemes. Ascot Signs will be hosting the talk in its Clerkenwell Road showroom.

Clerkenwell Design Trail takes place across Clerkenwell, London from 4-5 October. Events can be individually booked on the Clerkenwell Design Trail website.

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