Design festivals

Decided to explore what design festival where already out there, what they entailed and what they all had in common.


D&AD Festival

Last year saw thousands of visitors inspired by D&AD’s curated series of President’s Lectures, insight sessions, training workshops and exhibition during judging week. It was so popular that we’ve decided to do it all over again; but this time bigger and better as a fully-fledged week-long festival.

Design Indaba – South Africa

The Design Indaba conference is just one part of a larger creative festival. Each February, with sunny Cape Town (last year’s World Design Capital) as host, one of the world’s best-established design events attracts a diverse and lively line-up encompassing art, architecture, product design and many other disciplines.

There are 3,500 people at the three-day conference alone, and the whole city positively buzzes with creatives, so it’s always a fantastic opportunity to put faces to email addresses and meet new people.

Cheltenham Design Festival

I went a few years back, seems to have stopped since, which is a shame. As for a festival, I’m not sure, it was just design talks….don’t get me wrong they where good, but it was nothing more, and expensive.

London Design Festival

The London Design Festival is undoubtedly among the biggest and best design festivals in the UK. As part of LDF, there are always lots of exciting exhibitions to visit, as well as trade events, installations, workshops and talks. Most of these are free of charge, which encourages audience of around 350 000 people to head to London to visit the Festival.

OFFSET – Dublin, Ireland

The three-day creative conference welcomes speakers from the worlds of graphic design, animation, illustration, advertising, film, fashion and beyond for a weekend of presentations, lectures, interviews and discussions – and some lively, unofficial ‘networking‘ sessions at night.

What Design Can Do – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Stefan Sagmeister heads up a broad roster of speakers who are set to tackle “the impact of design” at this year’s What Design Can Do, an internationally focussed two-day event investigating the power of design as an agent for social renewal.

Pitched as a platform for designers of all disciplines to manifest the social potential of their profession, expect discussion around alternative future strategies and plenty of workshops, networking and celebration alongside the speaker sessions.

I think it’s the first one I’ve seen the word celebration in the description, and I like the title, not to mention the festival is curated by Stefan Sagmeister, one of the bravest and controversial designers out there, pushing the boundaries of design.

Semi-Permanent – Sydney, Australia

One of the largest events of its type, Semi-Permanent is a creative platform spreading art and design inspiration. The week-long celebration of all things design – including graphic design, film, art, illustration, web design, photography, visual effects, animation, graffiti, motion graphics, stop motion and more – consists of a conference and side events that span exhibitions, competitions, workshops and parties.

Competitions and parties are mentioned in this one. parties are a form of celebration and competitions imply engagement.


All of them have talks/interviews/discussions, most have workshops and exhibitions, some have networking. I know that design is…clean and will maybe i’m be stereotypical, but a shirt and type profession, but what if the scene and atmosphere of it was different? what would happen if designers where exposed to such an environment?

When I did ‘The Big Idea’ I research workspaces and one of the articles I read was about chaos in the workspace helping creative serendipity. I think design studios have started implying this theory into their workspaces, for example – Google, where none of their studios/factories are the same, and they have around 50 all over the world. Why can’t this festival imply this theory, instead of the same old.

I believe the current format of design festivals/conferences are too formal and intimidating, almost separating the industry profession from the graduate/new designer on purpose. Maybe if the professional was in uncharted territory the relationship between them and the new designers would be more on par, and this realisation might lead the new designer that they are not dissimilar.




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