Dated: 20/10/2015
Northern Design Award Winners (left to right) Mark McCormick from Novocastrian, Jake Barker and Sophie Thompson from Terrarium at the Northern Design Festival at the Assembly House, Westgate Road, Newcastle which is made up of 7 exhibitions over 2 floors featuring work by 50+ designers and architects ...

The 2015 Northern Design Festival is officially open! 7 exhibitions of work by more than 50 designers, makers and architects over 2 floors at the Assembly House – a Grade II* listed building not usually open to the public, only a few minutes walk from Newcastle Central Station.

We were absolutely delighted to welcome award-winning design writer and photographer Barbara Chandler to open this year’s Northern Design Festival and to help present the Awards. Congratulations to the winners – you can see (and buy!) their work at the Festival, along with 13 other designers selected for this year’s Design Event MART.

  • Best New Designer, sponsored by Confessions of a Design Geek – Novocastrian
  • Best Interior Product, sponsored by Heal’s – Sophie Thompson (Terrarium)
  • Most Innovative Product, sponsored by the Northern Design Centre – Jake Barker

The 2015 Northern Design Festival Awards were designed and made by Marc Ross and RASKL.

Tickets are £2.50 for unlimited entry to exhibitions (under 18s free), £11 for a Festival pass (unlimited entry + 2 talks), or £5 per talk. Ticket income contributes to the ongoing restoration work of this historic building. Book online, or pay on the door.

Chris Haughton rug delivery

We’ve just taken delivery of 10 of NODE’s fair trade collection of beautiful handmade rugs from Nepal for an exhibition at this year’s Northern Design Festival, including designs by Sanna Annukka, Geoff McFetridge, Jon Klassen and Oliver Jeffers. It will be the first time the works have been shown together in this way and the UK launch for Michelle Romo’s piece.

NODE aims to connect a worldwide network of designers and artists with traditional Nepalese carpet makers. Chris and co-founder Akshay Sthapit launched the fair trade project at the Design Museum in London and have since exhibited in Spain, Finland and LA.

Co-founder and author/illustrator of award-winning children’s books Chris Haughton will be in Newcastle for a Design Talk on Wednesday 21 October at 6pm, chaired by Paul Alderson from Wonderstuff. Chris will talk about his work, including his recent commission to create artwork for the newly opened children’s ward in Royal London Hospital in East London.

Find out more and book tickets online.

2015 products with slates web crop

We’re absolutely delighted that award-winning design writer and photographer Barbara Chandler will open this year’s Northern Design Festival. Barbara Chandler has been a specialist writer on design and decoration for over 35 years, contributing to top magazines and newspapers, both on the staff and as a freelance. She has won awards, written several books, talked on radio, and been a consultant for major TV programmes.
“Northern designers are innovative, determined and entrepreneurial,” she says. “They do art, craft, industry and high-tech with equal aplomb, and often take inspiration from their surroundings, whether urban grit or natural beauty. It is a privilege to open this their special Festival in its celebratory  tenth year.”

Barbara very kindly wrote this wonderful introduction to our Festival brochure:

Barbara Chandler brochure spread

Continue reading Northern Design Festival introduction by Barbara Chandler

monochrome products and slate by Sasa Savic

2015 marks ten years since Design Event launched. Supporting and promoting the work of Northern designers is what the Northern Design Festival is all about. The last decade has seen Design Event work with more than 1,400 designers, award 50 bursaries and 10 seed investments resulting in more than £250,000 in direct sales.

Design Event director Karen Nairstone says, “Newcastle-based designer David Irwin developed the prototype for his M Lamp with seed funding from Design Event in 2011 before going into production with US design brand Juniper in the USA, so we’re particularly proud to present David’s site-specific M Lamp installation at this year’s Festival to celebrate its UK launch.” Continue reading Design + architecture at the 2015 Northern Design Festival

Brochure cover - best light CROP

We’re looking for a team of dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers for this year’s Northern Design Festival. Design Event was established in 2005 to showcase good design and support designers across the North. We do this through a range of programmes including the Northern Design Festival, showcasing at the London Design Festival and our talks programme featuring leading designers.

2015 marks our 10th birthday and over the last decade we have welcomed over 250,000 visitors to our festivals, worked with in excess of 1,400 designers, delivered 25 talks, 15 workshops, and held over 120 exhibitions and events.

To celebrate, we will be showcasing work from leading designers in a stunning Grade II* listed building in the heart of Newcastle’s city centre, not usually open to the public. The Festival will take place 21-25 October 2015, where we expect to welcome around 2,000 visitors.

The opportunity

The Northern Design Festival regularly recruits a brilliant team of volunteers who are invaluable to the smooth running of the Festival and enhancing the visitor experience.

For the 2015 Festival we are looking for dedicated enthusiastic volunteers to help out with a range of tasks. As a Festival steward you will act as an ambassador and information point for our visitors, so we do ask that you take the position seriously and commit to any shifts you may be allocated.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the exhibitions, what’s involved in organising events and to develop your communication skills.

What’s in it for you?

  • You will receive training in preparation and on the job, which will help you in delivering an amazing experience for Festival-goers
  • The role will enhance your CV – you will gain valuable experience of working on events and exhibitions and may have the opportunity of a professional reference
  • The role will be best tailored to your interests and previous experience
  • You will gain insight into the work of some of the region’s leading designers
  • You’ll get a sneak preview of our stunning Festival venue
  • You’ll work in a dynamic team of like-minded people and develop new friends and contacts

What we’re looking for

We are looking for enthusiastic team players with an interest in the Festival.

Key tasks include:

  • Welcoming visitors to exhibitions and events
  • Helping out with construction, install and take down of exhibitions
  • Supporting the Festival team at openings, previews and special events
  • Helping in the pop up shop

I got involved with Design Event just after I graduated in 2008. I was looking to gain work experience in a creative environment. As I studied design at university this was a perfect opportunity right in the heart of Newcastle.

I joined the team as a volunteer and help to invigilate various exhibitions across the Festival. It was a fantastic opportunity to work in a different environment with new people and it was brilliant engaging with the general public. The event gave me responsibility and built my confidence in approaching people and talking about their opinions and my own. It also showed me that I could be creative in a different way.” Previous Festival volunteer

How to apply
Please complete this online application as soon as possible, and no later than 28th September 2015. If you have any questions please email Alexandra Ward at

Architecture Open 2015: Work in Progress

RIBA North East invites members – from students and affiliates through to directors, partners, retired practitioners and honorary fellows, to submit work for this year’s Architecture Open, a group exhibition taking place at the 2015 Northern Design Festival 21-25 October.
The Architecture Open is a fantastic opportunity to have your work and ideas widely seen in a unique setting in a vibrant part of the North East. Architecture Open attracts the attention of both industry and design conscious public and  is expected to be one of this year’s most exciting showcases of inspiring ground breaking design.
This year the RIBA are calling for concept drawings, models, paintings, sketches and artworks of any form that have been a fundamental part of the creative process in great or un-realised projects, as a response to the North East Architecture Open theme: Work in Progress. They are interested in receiving submissions that can show a behind the scenes insight into how architects work and develop ideas. This can be as abstract as the initial source of inspiration for a project or a sketchbook with notes as well as models and drawings that have been an important part of the creative process.
As a subtle note the RIBA’s key campaigns in trying to orchestrate change in how we use space both publically and privately, the exhibition should also be a chance to showcase the innovative work carried out by member Architects.

The full brief can be downloaded here. Deadline for initial Applications is 31 July 2015.

The Assembly House, 55 Westgate Road

We’re busy planning the 2015 Northern Design Festival when we’ll be celebrating a Decade of Design – ten years of showcasing outstanding new work by leading northern, national and international designers across a range of design disciplines including graphics, furniture, fashion, ceramics, textiles, and lighting.

Design Event has a bit of reputation for putting on events in unique settings, and this year’s Festival is no exception – a magnificent hidden treasure of a venue in the centre of Newcastle, not usually open to the public…

We’re delighted to announce the first of our 2015 Festival partners – the Crafts Council and the RIBA; see below for some upcoming opportunities with them for northern designers, makers and architects.

We can’t say any more just yet, but put 21-25 October in your diaries and sign up to our e-newsletter to be the first to hear any news.

hothouse_logo_2013Hothouse 6 open call for emerging makers

Hothouse is a Crafts Council programme of creative and business support for new and emerging makers who have set up their business in the last three years. The programme includes ten one-day workshops, a two-day residential, six hours of 1:1 mentoring and connects participants to a national network of makers and organisations. 

The 2016 programme will run from February to July and there are 46 places available across four cohorts; three in England and one in Scotland.

For more information including industry partners, a Hothouse 5 participant blog, videos and links to past participants’ websites visit

Emerging makers can apply via the Crafts Council website – applications go live on 8 July and the deadline is 11 August 2015.  You can sign up for a reminder here.

Architecture Open 2015: Work in Progress
Architecture Open 2015 – North East Showcase Open Call

RIBA North East invites members – from students and affiliates through to directors, partners, retired practitioners and honorary fellows, to submit work for this year’s Architecture Open, a group exhibition taking place at the 2015 Northern Design Festival from 21 to 25 October.

The theme this year is Work in Progress – concept drawings, models, paintings, sketches and artworks of any form that have been a fundamental part of the creative process in great or un-realised projects.

Submissions should give an insight into how architects work and develop ideas; this can be as abstract as the initial source of inspiration for a project or a sketchbook with notes, to models and drawings that have been an important part of the creative process. The resulting exhibition will be a chance to showcase the innovative work carried out by our architects.

Download the Architecture Open: Work in Progress brief here. The deadline to register 31 July and a full timeline is available here.


Design degree shows are a great opportunity to gain an insight into some of the upcoming innovations and concepts right across the North.

Promising to bring together and showcase creativity in all areas of design, including Interior Design, Product Design, Graphics and Architecture, design degree shows are an ideal place to look out for the next big thing.

North East degree shows include:

Northumbria University REVEAL 16 – 27 June

Newcastle College 5-12 June

Sunderland University 12 – 19 June

Cleveland College of Art & Design 10 – 12 June

Degree shows in North Yorkshire and Lancashire include:

Leeds University SHIFT 19 – 26 June

Sheffield Hallam 13 – 26 June

Liverpool University 29 May – 12 June

Manchester School of Art 12 – 24 June