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Dundee Design Festival: From an emerging designer’s point of view


By Erin Smith, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design Textiles Student

The sense of community within the creative scene in Dundee is one I'm forever impressed by, and extremely proud to say I am part of; Dundee Design Festival enforced this invaluable quality possessed by Dundee creatives.

Over the course of the four days, an incredible range of workshops, talks and exhibitions featured inside West Ward Works. It became apparent that at the heart of Dundee’s immense redevelopment, there is an idea to push the creative potential that is already embedded within the city. Even the building in which the festival was held, echoed this passion to give Dundee its new lease of life, using the history and talent that already exists.

After an in-depth examination of the programme, I decided to see and do as much as I possibly could, in order to really embrace everything that was on offer. This began with a weaving workshop run by the very talented Cally Booker. In such a short space of time I felt as if I had learned a great deal, and the hands-on approach meant I left with something to show for the beginnings of the new craft I had been taught.

The Wearable Art and screen printing workshops equally left me inspired, and appreciative of the willingness of those involved to share skill sets with people of all ages and levels of experience.

The variety of talks leaned towards a theme of community and service design. The Design on Justice talk, interestingly, spoke about the impact design thinking could have within law, and ultimately, how important and effective it is having differing perspectives coming together to contemplate any issue.

Niamh Nic Daéid mentioned the importance of breaking down barriers during her talk; What Can Design Do For Forensic Science. Niamh spoke of how she aimed to “bring individuals together to change how we do our business” and conveyed just how significant the public of Dundee would be in aiding the research, her and her team are about to embark on.

Finally, Pecha Kucha, as always, was creatively mind blowing! It was the likes of the Tin Roof Collective, Malath Abbas, Kerrie Alexander and Generator - who spoke about how important local collaborations and/or collectives have been to them - that made a particularly huge impact on me.

Overall, Dundee Design Festival was a huge success for the creative community and Dundee as a whole. The exhibition in itself was amazing enough - showcasing the works of Dundee, Scottish and International designers - but put alongside the workshops and talks, it truly evoked this sense of community that I really hope will be recreated and developed by many more events in the future.