One of the big things to be reaffirmed over recent days has been the strength of the UK design community outside London, with particular pockets of excellence in work and practice emerging this month from consultancies in the North West and South West.
In terms of creative quality, London groups continued to make a potent showing Design Week’s Benchmark awards, with Hat-Trick Design in particular staging a major coup this year. Top of the northern pile though is the Manchester, Preston and London group The Chase, whose Home branding for Merseystride won Best of Show on the branding programmes side. The flat-pack work is great, and fits superbly with the ethics of an organisation that repurposes old and damaged furniture from catalogue companies with paid help from local homeless people.
A number of consultancies from the north of England featured this year, some – such as award-winner Mark Studio – are relatively small businesses. Mark Lester’s group scored with the Manchester Literature Festival branding, while fellow Mancunian Like a River took a prize for its saucy branding for Boutinot’s wine brand Barbera Da Vine.
Other northern contenders in the Benchmarks included True North, with its Queer Up North work, and Leeds-based Elmwood with projects for Cable & Wireless and Nord Anglia Education.
Meanwhile, in the South West the Designs of the Time initiative may be drawing to a close in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, but its legacy looks promising. And we are starting to hear great things from Bristol, where E3 co-founder Mike Bennett is beginning to share idea to promote the city having been personally given a two-year contract by Bristol City Council to do just that some three months ago. Watch this space for details of both.
Bennett was meanwhile among those leading the revelry at South Western creative community’s Long Lunch last week at the Cotswolds 88 Hotel in the Gloucestershire village of Painswick. Organised by one of Bennett’s other brainchildren, Bristol Media, the annual event is fast becoming a popular fixture in the local calendar – bringing together design folk across disciplines and their advertising peers – and creating a model for other regions to follow.
These are but a couple of manifestations of our national creativity, drawn from the past few days. We know how successful the earlier Cardiff Design Week was and about creative events in Liverpool, the North East and beyond.
So if your region has been missed out, don’t feel miffed. Why not instead share with us your take on what’s happening locally. That, after all, is what the ‘comment’ box is for.