Liverpool Design Symposium kicks off

More and better debate is crucial if the UK is to be seen as the design capital of the world, says an industry insider following the demise of Scotland’s Six Cities Design Festival (DW 16 October).

‘Talk of the UK’s global design status is meaningless if people aren’t engaging in proper debate,’ says Nico Macdonald, director of design research consultancy Spy and programmer of last year’s Designs of the Time conference segment Intersections. ‘It is a shame that the Six Cities has gone.’

As the UK loses one design conference, it gains another. Tomorrow, Liverpool hosts the inaugural Liverpool Design Symposium, which is set to be one of the country’s biggest design conferences.

The half-day event, which is expected to attract about 800 delegates, is being run by D&AD in partnership with support body Design Initiative and three local design consultancies.

The groups initiated the day in direct response to a story in Design Week that exposed the paucity of design events programmed for the Liverpool 08 celebrations (DW 16 January).

‘Organising this has shown that there is a huge appetite for conferences,’ says Design Initiative development director Sarah Elderkin. She reports that the venue – the 450-seat St George’s Hall in the city centre – has sold out for at least one of its four talks tomorrow.

The symposium will focus largely on the creative process, with some analysis of the impact of the credit crisis on design groups. Macdonald believes that British design conferences often skirt key issues.

‘The US has been discussing service design – a massive growth area – for the past three years now, and yet we have not,’ he says.

‘Also, when design takes on larger issues like sustainability, the debates are poorly informed and not conducted in an honest and open atmosphere.’

A Design Council spokeswoman describes the demise of the Six Cities festival, which last year offered a full debate schedule and was set to enjoy its second outing before the Scottish government axed its £3m funding, as ‘a great shame, since its loss affects the quality of the design debate’.

The Design Council also reports that it has not yet programmed Dott 09, and cannot say whether it will contain a conference element.

Currently lacking a guarantee from D&AD that it will participate in subsequent events, the future of the Liverpool Design Symposium is uncertain, although Design Initiative hopes to make it an annual fixture of the design calendar.

Liverpool Design Symposium takes place on 23 October at St George’s Hall.




The Symposium Schedule

1pm – D&AD Student Awards talk

2pm – Design Business Association briefing on surviving the credit crunch

3.45pm – The Emotional Type, a typography lecture by Dalton Maag founder Bruno Maag

5.15pm – D&AD Awards winners showcase and questions and answers session

7pm – D&AD President’s Lecture by Universal Everything director Matt Pyke

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