Highlights from Design Manchester 2018

Nov 22 2018

Always an event we look forward to in the calendar, October 2018 marked the sixth Design Manchester festival. With such a wide variety of events on offer it would be impossible to cover them all, so we’ve picked out some of our highlights…

The theme

Our city is renowned for leading change, and the only way to keep that title? Disrupt! Challenging the norm and exploring new thinking is how we stay at the forefront of our industry. Through events and organisations, like Design Manchester, we can increase the presence of this disruption to create positive change and build Manchester’s profile as a leading design city.

D(isrupt)M 2018. Credit: Design Manchester

The Great Debate

Who doesn’t love a good discussion? Especially with the topic, ‘All Schools Should Be Art Schools?’. Held at the Manchester School of Art, we gathered to witness the predominantly female panel explore the controversial subject matter. Putting the education system to rights, the group (including our own CEO, Lou) discussed how the current curriculum’s offering reflects, or doesn’t reflect, the Fourth Industrial Revolution we’re now entering and the important role that creative skills have to play in the next era of business.

There’s creativity in us all, but the challenge is finding it. Once we’ve located it, how do we extract it and let it grow?

Lou Cordwell, CEO magneticNorth & Design Manchester Advisory Board Chair

The Great Debate 2018. Credit: Sebastian Matthes

(As you can see, disruption was a strong theme throughout the festival. How can you expect to see different results if you keep doing the same thing over and over again?)

The annual conference

Conference: D(isrupt)M was a day that left the entire mN team brimming with inspiration. We enjoyed a full day of influential keynotes from an impressive line-up of design leaders, each putting their own creative stamp on the day (as we’d expect!). With personalities from brand, architecture, film, typography, and a very long list of other fields, it was clear to see we’re an industry that’s well equipped for, passionate about, and already pioneering, change. If you missed out this year, take a look at 2018’s lineup and keep an eye out for the 2019 schedule.

The big announcement

Some excitement at the opening of the conference helped to set the tone for the rest of the day. Sir Richard Leese kicked off DM18 by announcing the Manchester Design Manifesto (which was also co-authored by our CEO, Lou). We’ve referred to the theme of leading change a lot in this post and that’s exactly what the Design Manifesto sets out to do. The study acts on the 2010 ‘Our Manchester’ strategy and sets out a plan for Manchester to put design at the forefront of the city’s strategy delivery. In typical Manchester fashion, the ambition isn’t just to talk about disruption but to actually do it.

The same actions create the same outcomes, so we’ve got to break the cycle. This year’s Design Manchester was a perfect example of how we can challenge the norm, are doing it already, and also how we can work together to make the change. We already can’t wait to see what 2019’s festival has in store.

Sophie, Studio & Brand Manager


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