Cheltenham Design Festival returns for the first time in three years

The three-day festival will explore the “positive impact” design can have in society.


Cheltenham Design Festival returns after a three-year break, during which Cheltenham Design Foundation was focusing on its summer school programme.

The festival will focus on the positive impact that design can have in communities as well as our day-to-day relationships. The festival’s director, Georgina Thorne, says that the speakers will be discussing “how to use design to do good”.

“It’s about how design can bring people together,” she adds.

A total of 18 speakers will take to the stage to discuss the theme, touching on topics ranging from the textile industry to public policy.

One of Thorne’s festival highlights is Yoko Sen, founder of Sen Sound which specialises in designing soundscapes in hospitals and hospices. Based in Washington, Sen’s work attempts to alleviate suffering through sound design. The studio has collaborated on sound research with John Hopkins Medicine.


The theme will also be explored in relation to the architectural sector. Catherine Greig, founder of Make Good, an architecture and design studio which involves communities in “shaping neighbourhood change”, will be talking about designing public spaces and how they can create strong community relationships.

The headline speaker is fashion designer and judge on BBC’s The Great British Sewing Bee, Patrick Grant. He will be talking about how the textile industry affects the environment and the benefits of bringing clothing manufacturing back to the UK. Grant will discuss not only the environmental impact of this, but also how it can affect local communities.

Cat Drew, chief design officer at Design Council, will be discussing public sector design and how “to ensure design practice is inclusive, diverse and cutting edge”.

As well as speakers, there will also be a series of workshops for students at the festival. One session, hosted alongside University of Gloucestershire, aims to prepare students for their future careers, covering topics like creating a LinkedIn profile and what to expect at interviews.

Cheltenham Design Festival runs from 1 — 3 November 2019 at the Parabola Arts Centre. Tickets cost £149. Visit the website for more information.

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