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

Our design picks this month include a festival of design in Margate, a book about the evolution of the computer, and kids’ design activities taking place from Dundee to London.

Festival: Margate Festival of Design 11-17 August 2023

Run by postgraduate non-profit art school, The Margate School, Margate Festival of Design is a week-long festival of free and “pay what you can” events taking place from 11 – 17 August. Under the theme Horizons, its lineup includes designers such as Jim Sutherland of Studio Sutherl&, Greg Bunbury and the Design Council’s Cat Drew, covering topics such as socially engaged practice, design for social justice and designing for the planet.

Aptly bringing things back to the seaside, graphic design historian and educator Dr Paul Rennie will talk about the design of the British Seaside Resort, while Emmi Salonen of Studio Emmi will be talking work-life balance in the creative industries.

Across the week are workshops for adults and children including data visualisation for good with designer and educator Laura Knight, screen-printing protest posters with local designer Becky Thomas, zine-making with “subterranean drag queen” Shelly Grotto and a kids’ branding workshop with Another Acronym and Hannah Warner looking at how the UK high street could be rebranded today.

For tickets and information, visit the festival website here.

Book: The Computer: A history from the 17th century to today

The Computer cover image, courtesy of Taschen

In a new publication, The Computer: A history from the 17th century to today, graphic designer, creative director and design professor Jens Müller takes readers through the eventful journey to reach the digital age of the present.

Covering off the well-known names in the computer’s history – including Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, Alan Turing, Grace Hopper, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs – the book also tells the history of forgotten gadgets and prototypes, without which products such as the Apple Macintosh and the Sony Play Station may never have been designed.

It tells stories of how computing products were designed while charting the early beginnings of computing, covering everything from room-sized mainframe computers up to today’s personal devices. The publication is also filled with rare images and stories about the wider visual world around computing, from advertising campaigns and posters to infographics designed to explain emerging technical concepts.

The Computer: A history from the 17th Century to Today, will be published by Taschen on 7 August 2023, and is available to purchase here.

Podcast: Homing In



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Homing In is a new podcast series from The Modern House, which features interviews with designers and creatives, recorded in their homes and centred around the question: “what does home reveal about who we are?”

Hosted by The Modern House co-founder Matt Gibberd, interviewees include designer India Mahdavi, photographer Nick Knight, former Wallpaper Magazine editor and creative director Tony Chambers and Tate Modern director Frances Morris.

Each episode invites the guest to discuss their home today, a home from their past, and “where they would like to end up”. Offering a window into the spaces that have shaped these creative individuals, as well as those they have shape for themselves, each conversation also provides insight into the guests’ unique creative careers.

The Modern House: Homing In is available on all podcast platforms, with episodes released every two weeks.

Kids’ events at the Young V&A, RIBA and V&A Dundee

Young V&A, Town Square and Amaze Letters. Credit: David Parry, courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

National Play Day 2 August, 12:00- 16:00, Young V&A

For National Play Day on 2 August 2023, visitors to the Young V&A can participate in creative workshops run by artists Malarko and Shepherd Manyika, explore the Play Gallery or tackle a design challenge in the Open Studio.

The afternoon family event is for children and adults. The event is free, with no booking required, and more information can be found here.

Meet the designer in the Shed, 10-31 August, Young V&A

The Young V&A’s first designer in residence, designer Clara Chu, will be hosting ‘Meet the Designer” sessions on Thursdays and Saturdays between the 10 and 31 August from 14:00 – 16:00.

Chu works with household objects, upcycled to create unique fashion accessories. Visitors will be able to see Chu’s work in progress and get an idea of the workings of a design studio. Sessions will include drop-in show and tell, as well as workshops throughout the summer. More information here.

Toy Hack, 14:00-17:00 22 August, Young V&A

Toy Hack is a drop-in workshop to restore beloved toys and objects for children aged 7+. Visitors can bring a toy to mend – using a variety of techniques including weaving, joining, stuffing and sewing – or help others to fix theirs.  All participants must be accompanied by an adult. More information here.

These three events take place at the Young V&A, Cambridge Heath Rd, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PA

RIBA Bigger than Blueprints, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London

This workshop for children aged 7-10 years, at the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) building, invites paritcipants to use sketching, drawing and image transfer to investigate the shape, texture and form of the building. Led by artist educator Zoe Allen, children will be able to explore printmaking techniques to create a large collaborative print as well as prints to take home with them. It takes place from 11am -4pm on Thursday 24 August, and tickets are between £33.45 and £45. For more information, visit here.

Bigger than Blueprints will take place at Riba, 66 Portland Place London, W1B 1AD

Design Busters, V&A Dundee and online

V&A Dundee is offering free design activities for kids accessed via its (free) Design Busters phoneline and online briefing videos.

The latest activity asks participants to design a soundscape inspired by things that bring them joy, while the archive of events includes illustrating a ‘Museum of Me’, creating a shelter in nature or designing a window display.

Design Busters can be accessed online here or by calling 0800 048 9968

Banner image from The Computer, courtesy of Taschen.

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