Design Trust launches online festival to highlight “creative women with purpose”

The Make a Difference festival will showcase women from across the design industry, with the intention of demystifying what they do, why they do it, and how.

The Design Trust, a social enterprise concerned with the professional development of creatives, will soon launch a new online festival dedicated to creative women.

Make a Difference will highlight “creative women with purpose”, according to the organisation, focusing on those who are “on a mission to make the world a better, kinder or more sustainable place”.

The festival is a response to the newfound struggles faced by creatives in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Design Trust director Patricia van den Akker tells Design Week. Working from home, struggling to get freelance work, and cancelled trade events have all served to disrupt creatives’ operations, she says.

With no definitive end in sight, van den Akker admits that the next few months will be “very unpredictable”. The aim of the festival then is to get people thinking more about their “big picture”, rather than “trying to control the current situation”.

Sarah Corbett, founder of Craftivist Collective

“Women tend to undervalue themselves”

The achieve this, the team has invited a series of creative women from across the design industry to share stories, information and lessons from their respective practices.

“Some creatives are great visionaries but then struggle to turn that into a reality,” she says. “Others might be very good in the nitty gritty to-do-list for tomorrow but can’t work out their bigger vision.

“We wanted to bring the big picture and the day-to-day reality together as part of the festival.”

As to why van den Akker and team have chosen to focus on women in particular, she says: “Unfortunately, the reality is that women tend to undervalue themselves and feel less confident using their voice or taking the lead to create bigger businesses and campaigns.”

Having successful women share their experiences, van den Akker hopes, will help others who are understandably feeling somewhat lost amid the pandemic and provide positive role models for those who need it.

Janine Vangool, designer, editor and publisher at Uppercase magazine

Festival highlights

There are several interviews which promise to be particularly engaging for audiences, she says. Some will focus on how creatives can use their craft politically, such as the session dedicated to Sarah Corbett, founder of Craftivist Collective, an organisation dedicated to “gentle protests” involving craftwork.

Of Corbett, van den Akker says: “Sarah is a quiet and gentle person, but very determined and clear on how to achieve change through dialogue rather than confrontation.”

Elsewhere, interviews will highlight the medium of creativity itself and how women got to where they were. One example of this will likely be van den Akker’s conversation with Janine Vangool. As the designer, editor and publisher by the bi-monthly magazine Uppercase, she says Vangool will provide insight into how creatives can have a “thriving, 21st century” print-based business.

Meanwhile others will look to community, like that with Sarah Hamilton, the founder of the Just A Card campaign, which looks to impress on the public the important of shopping with small independent designers.

“Starting with why”

Across the month of the festival, van den Akker will interview 10 women in total via Zoom. Each hour-long session will be broadcast live, so that “festival goers” will be able to ask questions, but will also be recorded and uploaded to the Design Trust’s online platform.

The format of the interviews will be particularly important to the festival’s aim, she says, since each conversation will “start with why”. The ultimate aim in each case will be to work through why each woman does what she does, what they actually do and how they get it done.

For more information about the Make a Difference festival or to buy tickets, head to the Design Trust website.

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