Dundee launches design events programme to grow city’s graduate talent

After being named UNESCO City of Design for 2016, creative organisations have come together in Dundee to provide more design opportunities for graduates and start-ups.

The Waterfront, Dundee © Neil Williamson
The Waterfront, Dundee © Neil Williamson

Creative bodies are coming together in Dundee to curate events with the aim of retaining talent within the Scottish city and highlighting it as a design hub.

The drive for more creative events comes as the city was named the UK’s only UNESCO City of Design this year, and also anticipates the V&A Dundee opening in 2018.

First international design festival

Milestone events include the first ever Dundee International Design Festival, set to take place 25 – 28 May, as well as festivals on games, digital arts, literature and film, which will take place later in the year.

Alongside the V&A Dundee, University of Dundee, Dundee City Council and UNESCO, other organisations involved include Creative Dundee, an initiative aimed at creating job opportunities for graduates by holding regular networking events and Pecha Kucha nights; and Design in Action (DiA), an entrepreneurial development initiative that holds summits and helps to launch new businesses.

New design businesses coming out of Dundee as a result of the DiA mentoring programmes include: Tusi, a new text system for smartwatches which aims to be more intuitive than existing systems; Baum, a 2D platform game which won a student computer game competition at Abertay University; and Tappstory, a new app which uses label scanning with the aim of providing consumers with additional information on products before purchase.

“Building the creative landscape”

Gillian Easson, creative director at Creative Dundee says that collaboration between the different groups is in aid of creating more “creative hubs” within the city.

“We were seeing people scarpering from Dundee University for the bright lights of elsewhere,” she says. “Our partnerships are about building the city’s creative scene and landscape.”

Design for purpose

Siôn Parkinson, producer at Dundee Design Festival, adds that the events will be going beyond aesthetics, looking at design for purpose, and how design thinking is engrained into all professions.

“We’ll be looking at the role design has in how the city reimagines itself,” he says. “As a small city, there are incredible conditions for designers to come together. We’ll be looking at things like medical, and scientific art – disciplines are collapsing and people are keen to move across them.”

The year’s programme of events is intended for the general public as well as designers, with the aim of “opening up” design and showing that design processes “are a part of every day life”, Parkinson adds.

Visit the UNESCO Dundee City of Design’s website for the full events programme for 2016.

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