NEWS: NORTHERN DESIGN FESTIVAL | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Jimmy Turrell – Beck video still

Newcastle’s Northern Design Festival returns to various venues in the city this year with the theme of ‘Material Matters’. International and UK grown designers will be showcasing their diverse and eclectic craft skills, design awareness and ethos from Friday 3rd until Wednesday 8th November.

The programme is as wide-ranging as ever, with exhibition highlights that include Art On Paper Since 1885, which features prints from the G.F. Smith archive by artists including Saul Bass, Paul Rand and Studio Makgill; Unforsaken (Part 1) by Newcastle-born graphic artist and director Jimmy Turrell, who has a portfolio that includes Adidas, The Guardian and The New York Times, showcases his distinctive works; and the Design NOW symposium, where speakers such as graphic artist Anthony Burrill and typographer Sarah Hyndman will discuss their creations.

A programme showstopper, Aurora is a new installation by Giles Miller Studio (who has worked on projects with the V&A, Design Museum and Stella McCartney among others) focusing on innovative sculptural and architectural works; while a solo exhibition from Elle Decoration British Design Award-winner Daniel Schofield promises new brand new pieces.

the festival seems set to continue to breed ever more creativity and discussion

The new wave of artists and designers get an opportunity to showcase their wares, as students from Newcastle College exhibit interior design, graphic design, fashion, surface design, product design and photography skills; while the future of 3D design comes into focus thanks to talented students from Northumbria University.

This year, there is a real focus on design making an impact, and this couldn’t be better exemplified than by New Boosbeck Industries, who design and build furniture in collaboration with community groups in Teesside. “We’re trying to tackle social issues through alternative ways, like making things.” New Boosbeck’s Adam Clarke explains. “Visitors to the Festival will see the pieces of furniture we make, but they’ll also find out about the social and historical side of what we do. The way we make things is quite unique – taking inspiration from an old catalogue we found in the Teesside archives, we work with people who are unemployed to reimagine how a piece of furniture from the past can look today, using modern techniques and machinery. There are maybe only six original 1930 Boosbeck pieces left in existence now, so we’re recreating a piece of social history. We embrace modern technology to keep the old traditions alive.”

There is also a strand to the festival that is focused on development, learning, and discussion, with events that include the Makers Workshop at Baltic 39; and independent materials library SCIN provide an opportunity to touch and explore materials from self-healing concrete to smile plastics in their exhibition Material Exploration, which is rounded off by a series of talks further exploring the concept, held throughout the festival at Cooper’s Studio.

As ever, there will be a selection of work available to purchase at Design Source, showing works in a variety of mediums including furniture, textiles, prints and jewellery. With nine exhibitions, five special events and an informative symposium across six venues at this year’s Northern Design Festival, the festival seems set to continue to breed ever more creativity and discussion. 

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