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New Andy Burnham

Design Manchester's Great Debate: a recap of the night

26th October, 2016

It’s been a fantastic two weeks of talks, workshops and exhibitions from Design Manchester 2016 and we’re sad that it’s over for another year! We’ve been proud to be a partner of such a successful event, and even prouder to be involved in their annual Great Debate. Our very own Lou Cordwell had the fun task of mediating between some of the country’s most talented and influential creatives at The Old Granada Studios to a sold out audience.  

Topics of the evening included city devolution, how data changes our cities, how cities are designed and of course, the impact of Brexit. It also served as a great opportunity for the design community to discuss the role of design and the creative industries in our future cities.

On the panel was Sheffield-based star designer, Ian Anderson; Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University, Lord Mandelson; Technology Engagement at The Co-op and Director of TransportAPI, Emer Coleman; the front runner for Manchester’s mayoral election, Andy Burnham; Bristol-based creator of legible cities, Mike Rawlinson and urbanist and designer, Claire Mookerjee

Lots of engaging subjects were discussed and it was eye opening to see different perspectives from each of the panel. Andy Burnham started off proceedings by looking to the future of the cities through the young people that need training. He stated money should be put into the more deprived areas around Manchester to get young people involved in digital apprenticeships. Peter Mandelson agreed saying digitalization will do for our generation what electricity did for others, and that this was a very important skill that needs to be developed.

Though this is a key objective, it was refreshing to hear designer Ian Anderson’s different take on the subject. He stated young people are actually far more advanced in tech than those that are making policies, and they need to get out of that old way of thinking. He said, “Those that are making the policies need to listen more, it’s the young people that can move all of this forward, not the top down approach.”

Though the panel may have had different perspectives, it’s clear that this idea of a bottom up approach should be integral to all of our ways of thinking, whether it be education, design, politics, etc. users and communities are the ones that should come first. This is why events like Design Manchester are so important; they start this conversation. Now it's the task of the people in power and the design community to apply it to real life situations, so the people and future leaders of the city can see the benefits.

Such a successful night came down to a great collection of minds, an engaging audience, a well thought out event from DM16 and the great support from our friends at Pannone Corporate. Even the event space, St John’s at OGS, reflected the very topic of the night “City Identity”, what better environment could represent Manchester’s past and future? We already can’t wait for next year’s festival!