Cardiff Design Festival awards link widens scope

The fourth annual Cardiff Design Festival is experiencing a shift towards a more international outlook, according to its organisers and patrons, with a strong focus on exporting Welsh design as well as supporting it on the domestic front this year.

Darragh Murphy, of Design Management Europe and the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, says the festival was moved from June to October to fall in line with the DME Award, which take place at the Wales Millennium Centre on 13 October.

UWIC, a supporter of the Cardiff Design Festival, is one of 19 DME members. The awards – which move to Eindhoven in the Netherlands next year – honour businesses that successfully manage and implement design strategy. This year, the organisers asked companies to submit design strategies in poster form, and the winner will be announced on 17 October.

Festival director Olwen Moseley points out that Welsh design consultancies are doing a lot of work outside Wales. ‘Welsh design is not just exporting the local market,’ she says.

Gavin Cawood, operations director of Design Wales, says that Welsh design has a ‘strongly recognised support network’ which is beginning to give it international gravitas. Cawood cites Blair Enns’ address as being the most important at the festival.

The Canadian speaker, founder of the Win Without Pitching business development guidance group, will be talking on 17 October about how consultancies can become more competitive by focusing on specialisms.

Moseley says that although designers were not briefed to address any themes, sustainable packaging is a hot topic this year. ‘There’s a big awareness in Wales about sustainability issues – especially food and pharmaceuticals packaging,’ she adds.

Ecodesign Centre Wales director Frank O’Connor says that Cardiff Design Festival has made sustainability part of its ‘mainstream agenda’ through events like The Grand Recycled Ballroom Party, which closes the festival with an initiative for ‘adopting’ and reusing old chairs.

O’Connor stresses that sustainability should become a ‘bigger part of other festivals’, rather than a token gesture. ‘All designers and companies need to take responsibility,’ he says, adding that product lifecycles and Greenwash are still issues that need to be tackled by design.

A strong domestic focus remains at the festival, now in its fourth year. The future of Roath Basin Southside, a derelict area of Cardiff Bay, was discussed in a design charrette on 3-4 October. The project’s focus will be design- and architecture-driven – architects are involved in the scheme as a direct result of the Royal Society of Architects in Wales joining the festival for the first time (DW 11 July).

Carol Anne Davies, chief executive of the Design Commission for Wales, one of the organisations behind the project, says, ‘It’s rare for a developer [Igloo Regeneration] to make a site like this available.’

The festival runs until 24 October, when five Best in Show prizes will be awarded from a shortlist of 30, selected by Richard Seymour of Seymour Powell and David Worthington, chairman of Media Square’s design division. Events will take place across Cardiff, but centre around the Senedd building, home of the National Assembly for Wales.

Cardiff Design Festival Key Events

2 October Cardiff Design Festival launch and showcase exhibition opens

3-4 October Roath Basin design charrette

7 October Best of Welsh graduates

13 October International workshop on design support; Design Management Europe Award

24 October The Grand Recycled Ballroom Party

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