The UK’s only UNESCO City of Design opened the second Dundee Design Festival today in an empty factory in the city’s former mill district for a five-day programme of design-themed workshops, talks, film screenings and performances.
Inspired by Dundee’s industrial heritage and the venue’s history as a jute mill and print works, the festival theme is ‘Factory Floor’ celebrating makers and their machines and the future of manufacturing.
“The programme plays with the theme of factory - what does the factory of tomorrow look like and how do people work now. Visitors to Dundee Design Festival can expect to experience an assembly line of creative activity.” says Festival Curator and Producer, Siôn Parkinson.
An exhibition showcasing exciting design innovation in ceramics, furniture, interiors, textiles, jewellery, textiles and healthcare design is the festival centrepiece. Fourteen experimental international designers including Thing Thing from Detroit, French born product designer Ariane Prin, Glasgow based Lynne MacLachlan, and Fiona Robertson from Ninewells Hospital working in partnership with University of Dundee are exhibiting work that shows how traditional industrial processes combined with craft and handmade techniques are allowing designers to explore new techniques and test the capability of materials.
Detroit based design studio ‘Thing Thing’ represented by Simon Anton and Rachel Mulder are exhibiting in Dundee for the first time. Detroit was the first American city to be named a UNESCO City of Design in 2015 in recognition of the city’s design legacy, and like Dundee is working with the designation to help promote cultural and creative industries.
This year, Dundee Design Festival is providing an opportunity for visitors to experience first-hand how things can be made at the WRKSHP, a practical workshop and demonstration studio set up with workbenches, tools, machines and resources. Co-produced by Creative Dundee with traditional and digital fabrication equipment provided by MAKLab, there are free taster sessions in 3D-printing, laser-cutting, milling and casting with experienced studio technicians on hand to help.
Guest designers will host ticketed workshops which include include plaster casting, model and jewellery making. There will be a full day of free workshops on Saturday (27 May) with experimental design duo Studio Silo demonstrating spinning machinery based on a 1698 Isaac Newton theory and how to sew, steam and sculpt three-dimensional objects.
Filling an entire gallery space is Print City, an immersive installation made up of a thousand hand-printed cardboard shapes. Co-ordinated by Print Festival Scotland it’s hoped that people dropping into the festival will take part in the family print-making sessions and help build the large-scale evolving abstract model of Dundee to create a dazzling spectacle for visitors to sit on and walk through.
On Friday (26th May) Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation will host a talk with University of Dundee to discuss The Internet of Things (IoT), a growing global network of objects and devices that connect everything around us. DJCAD and Mozilla Foundation will investigate whether we know what is happening to the data that these devices produce and are they creating a healthy approach to the way we use the internet? And if no-one is paying for the data the Internet of Things creates, then who is working for the services and companies that own them?
A similar theme is explored in ‘Our Silent Monitors’ a new exhibition which has taken its inspiration from the Silent Monitor invented by Robert Owen and used in New Lanark Mill in the 19th Century to control and monitor workers’ behaviour. Throughout the five-day festival a team of designers will collect visitor feedback and interpret it into a huge painted installation covering the factory floor of one of the gallery spaces.
For one evening only, Dundee Design Festival will form the Singer Machine Choir filling the huge, resonant spaces of West Ward Works. A vast chorus of voices will playfully conjure the sounds of factories past and present. Sounds collected from working machinery from factories across the region including Michelin tire factory, textile fabricators Scott & Fyffe and the clatter of textile machines on display at the neighbouring Verdant Works will help inspire visitors to create a production line of whirrs, drones, clangs and bangs. The choir will be led by celebrated Dundee singer Alice Marra and folk legend Sheena Wellington.
Other special one-off events at Dundee Design Festival include the UK premiere of Graphic Means, a documentary on the history of graphic design and the first live performance of Andrew Wasylyk’s celebrated new album ‘Themes for Buildings and Spaces’, haunting instrumental music inspired by Dundee’s post-industrial landscapes.
This year the Dundee Design Festival is widening out across the city and includes University of Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone Graduate Degree show and ‘Factory Gates’ - tours of Dundee’s iconic factories and workspaces led by the people who work there, including Michelin tyre factory, the city’s oldest printers Winter & Simpson, Tokheim and the city’s newest brewers and distillers, 71 Brewing and Verdant Spirits recently set up in a former ironworks and mill space.
The festival venue also houses a DCA Pop-up Shop showcasing the best of design from Dundee, Scotland and beyond and the Refectory Café managed by Dundee Rep with all profits going towards the work of Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre.
Dundee Design Festival is a UNESCO Dundee City of Design initiative and is supported by EventScotland part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate and the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund.
Stuart Turner, Head of EventScotland, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Dundee Design Festival in its sophomore year, through our National Funding Programme. It is fitting that in the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology that the festival will pay homage to the city’s rich industrial heritage, while celebrating the work of current makers in an exciting and diverse programme that will no doubt attract many visitors from the local area and further afield.”
Clive Gillman, Director of Creative Industries at Creative Scotland, said: “The Dundee Design Festival is a unique event in the UK's only City of Design. It is a festival of international quality and significance that is important to design professionals, but which is also publically engaging and linked to the communities of Dundee. Creative Scotland recognises the importance of the role the festival performs in showcasing Scottish design talent, and supporting the evolution of the work of designers and makers.”
Anna Day, Manager of UNESCO City of Design, Dundee said: “At the Dundee Design Festival we’re waving a big flag, shouting about why Dundee is the UK’s only UNESCO City of Design. We’ve got the best designers in Scotland exhibiting, as well as international names. This festival has helped cement Dundee as a place where design and designers are supported and flourish.”
For further information and to book workshops and performances visit http://2017.dundeedesignfestival.com