Ranging from internationally renowned designers to some of the UK’s hottest emerging makers across graphics, furniture, fashion, illustration, architecture, ceramics, textiles and lighting, this year’s Northern Design Festival has nine exhibitions featuring work by more than 50 designers, plus a programme of special events, tours and talks from some of the world’s leading creatives.
Work new and exclusive to the 2017 Northern Design Festival includes:
Aurora – a new installation by Giles Miller Studio which specialises in the development of truly innovative surface, sculptural and architectural works including award-winning projects for Stella McCartney, the Design Museum and the V&A in London.
Giles Miller explains, “Our studio has been working on a concept called ‘Aurora’ which uses surface composition to create beautiful reflective presence in the space surrounding the sculpture. Aurora is a natural light display in the earth’s sky, sometimes referred to as the Northern lights, so when we were invited to create an installation for the Northern Design Festival it seemed like a perfectly appropriate place to share Aurora with the world.
“We continue to develop new surface and sculptural typologies, and with every iteration comes deeper understanding of the visual and material effects we are able to generate using reflection and the manipulation of light. Almost 2000 mirror-finish stainless steel ‘pennies’ will be suspended within a structural lattice and composed to create variation of both reflective direction as well as visual permeability. The effect is an investigation into surface sculpture and the simple beauty of materials.”
Unforsaken (Part 1) – a new exhibition by graphic artist and director Jimmy Turrell, who was creative director on the new Beck album Colors released last week, and has produced work for The Guardian, Miguel and the New York Times.
In 2016, Jimmy Turrell bought a job lot of 1,000 vintage books and objects on Ebay, ranging from 1920s skiing manuals to vintage scrapbooks of the Norwegian royal family. From this collection (which was actually a day away from being taken to a rubbish dump) he then cherry-picked the best pieces to screen print, draw and paint on top of. Unforsaken is about discovering forgotten materials and bringing them back to life in a completely new context. Jimmy describes the exhibition as “maximalist”, and says “it’s about finding the beauty in discarded things”.
New Boosbeck Industries is a social enterprise that encourages people to work together to design and build furniture. For the Northern Design Festival they will present a new range of furniture designed and built in collaboration with community groups from a social enterprise inspired by the iconic 1930s initiative that aimed to address unemployment through creativity.
The project is led by artist and designer Adam Clarke, who says “The Northern Design Festival is a real flagship event in the design calendar; you get to show your wares and that there’s fantastic things going on here in the North East. It’s good to be part of such an established event, to be showcased at a high level – people will get to learn about what we do, as well as how we go about things.
“A big part of of my practice as a designer and maker is research – I love discovering social history. 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.
“When we make something, everyone has a hand in all aspects of design but one person is the lead designer – when we sell a piece of furniture a % goes back to everyone who made it, and some to the business so we can make more prototypes for the future. We’re trying to tackle social issues through alternative ways, like making things. We’re trying to help people be more employable, we’re not trying to be the next IKEA.”
And Daniel Schofield will present a solo exhibition including new pieces and prototypes from his cork range. The Elle Decoration British Design Award-winner has produced work for Benchmark, Scandium and Conran in the first five years of his practice.
The 2017 Northern Design Festival takes place from 3-8 November at venues across Newcastle and Gateshead, including the historic Assembly House as the Festival hub where most exhibitions are held, and nearby Cooper’s Studios. Exhibitions are open daily 10-5pm and tickets are £2.50 for unlimited exhibition entry, or free for under 18s and staff places on school and college group visits. Prices vary for talks and special events.