Student-led design festival to address regional disparity

By Tim Aldred

26 Feb 2024

Northern Design Festival

Students from Lancaster University have launched a three-day festival to examine a wide variety of topics important to the design industry, including the lack of opportunities in the North.

The Northern Design Festival (NDF) has been organised by the student-led Northern Designers Community Interest Company. The event aims to serve as a creative launchpad for new and aspiring designers and creatives to explore the industry through different perspectives from experts in the community.

It will be held at various venues across Lancaster from May 17 to 19, hoping to turn the city into a buzzing hub for Northern design.

With more than 20 speakers, it is open to anyone curious and passionate to learn more and will include panel discussions, workshops, exhibitions, a print fair, networking and mentoring.

Confirmed topics for the festival include ‘North + South; the story of a love-hate relationship’, ‘How AI will not steal your job’ and ‘The value of Design in the fight for climate change’ and many more.

Project lead Antonia Arbova, a third year BA Hons Design student, said: “The gap in our education system and industry is too big to allow opportunities for students like us to kick start our dream careers. We just wanted to share the skills we had learned throughout the past few years with people who would love to be part of this community.

"The planning for the event, first started off as one talk but due to the high interest of speakers we saw an opportunity to create something more."

Dr Christopher Boyko, senior lecturer in design at Lancaster University, said: "We couldn't be prouder of Toni and her team. They took a real problem facing our design students -- the lack of creative opportunities in the North -- and proactively did something to address it.

“The Northern Design Festival offers industry, academia and communities the chance to come together to consider how design can be encouraged, and can thrive, in the North of England. This unique event looks to be brilliant and it's all down to Toni's vision of supporting design excellence in the region."

The festival has partnered with the UK’s Design Council, G.F Smith, Aire Global, Hotfoot, Two Stories, SUN (Studio Up North), Right Aligned Academy, Fraser House, EXP, Kellanova, and others to stage the event.

Enjoyed this? Read more from Tim Aldred

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