Six Cities festival enlists Sagmeister and flags up events

Stefan Sagmeister has been appointed to create the opening event for Scottish design festival Six Cities, it was announced last week. It will be the first time the designer has worked in Scotland.

Six Cities is Scotland’s first national design festival, with events taking place across the country. Developed by Scotland’s national centre for design and architecture The Lighthouse, it has been funded to the tune of £3m by the Scottish Executive.

Final details of Sagmeister’s opening event have yet to be revealed, but, according to The Lighthouse and Six Cities director Nick Barley, it will be ‘suitably bonkers’. The event will encompass all six cities in the programme and take place on 17 May.

The rest of the festival programme was also announced this week. The organisers have taken an international approach and have invited designers from across the UK and Europe to take part in a series of designer ‘double bills’, which see local designers paired up with their international peers.

Pairings include Hella Jongerius and Peter Inglis, Peter Saville with Glasgow-based Robert Johnston, Martin Lambie-Nairn and Hector Pottie, Zandra Rhodes and knitwear designer Belinda Dickson, and Wayne Hemingway with brothers Alasdair and Neil Stephen.

A key aim of Six Cities is to encourage the Scottish business community to acknowledge the value of design, says Barley. The festival is hosting the Design into Business initiative, which will see Design Council chairman Sir George Cox visit both Glasgow and Edinburgh. He will discuss the implications of the Cox Review – which called for greater integration of creative thinking into business strategy – for Scottish business. A conference – the Design Festival Conference – will also take place in September, and the wider business programme includes workshops and presentations by client-side designers such as Virgin Atlantic head of design Joe Ferry and Nokia group design director Bill Sermon.

The festival also aims to ‘persuade people that design plays an important part in their life’, says Barley. ‘There’s some evidence that the public perceive design as a luxury, not an essential, and we want to change that,’ he says.

To that end, a series of exhibitions, talks, tours, films, workshops and other events will run across the six cities. At Dundee Contemporary Arts, Glasgow duo Timorous Beasties will curate Peacocks Among the Ruins, an exhibition that brings together examples of historical and contemporary wallpaper, textiles and objects by designers from around the globe.

Edinburgh is host to 3D Edinburgh – a showcase for product, furniture and lighting design curated by Blue Marmalade – and the Design Fairground, created by local design collective Glass Box. Based on fairground attractions, the latter event allows visitors to discover the secrets of contemporary designers in a ‘haunted house’ and banish their design pet hates in a ‘rogue’s gallery’.

In Glasgow, Airworld – a travelling exhibition from the Vitra Design Museum which highlights the role design has played in air transport over the years – will be featured at the Tramway 2 gallery.

Branding for the Six Cities festival is by Glasgow consultancy D8, which won the business following a seven-way pitch (DW 27 July 2006).

• The festival takes place across Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling
• More than 300 events are scheduled
• Runs from May to August, with a focus on the three weeks from 17 May to 3 June
• For a full programme of events, visit

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