What I learned during Belfast Design Week by Karishma Kusurkar

Belfast Design Week generates a lot of new ideas and thoughts for participants, but also for us organisers. We are just as excited as anyone else to hear from our speakers, to see how projects have developed year on year and to see Belfast being celebrated as a city of design.   I took some mental and physical notes throughout the week and here are some of my highlights.


DESIGN AS A TOOL FOR PROTEST

Marina Esmeraldo for Refinery 29 (Image: Marina Esmeraldo)

Marina Esmeraldo for Refinery 29 (Image: Marina Esmeraldo)

Alice Kearney and Alice Muir at Studio HAWRAF'S A-Z Workshop (Image: Megan Conlon)

Alice Kearney and Alice Muir at Studio HAWRAF'S A-Z Workshop (Image: Megan Conlon)

Marina Esmeraldo's work at Design Camp was a great showcase into how design could be used to create social and political change. To make a statement and to communicate a message.  Using design as a tool for protest is becoming particularly relevant now with social media being the medium through which people are expressing their voices - for example the #metoo


BIG THINGS HAPPENING FOR A SMALL CITY

There's nothing like a design talk to be reminded of how many amazing companies have been founded and grown here in Belfast and how some of them are actually working on great international projects, take for example, Big Motive working with Net-A-Porter.


SLOW LIVING

ASTRL Fibres at 25 Pop Up

ASTRL Fibres at 25 Pop Up

Design Thinking at ArtsEkta

Design Thinking at ArtsEkta

As we rushed through Design Week, I felt myself not "slow living" at all. However I noticed that so many of the events and speakers had this year started looking at slow living and practising a mindful life outside of design. This also extended to beyond the self, to acknowledgement of others - whether it was the women design entrepreneurs at Womenfolk, the young designers at Designers of the Future or the refugees and asylum seekers at Design Thinking. In a small city, we should be collaborators rather than competitors.  Our competition lies outside Belfast in the wider world. 


A FRESH APPROACH TO DESIGN

I just loved the approach HAWRAF had to being inventive - to thinking outside the box with the use of workshops or side projects to come up with new ideas.  Even their name generates conversations - how on earth do you pronounce it? (Apparently HAW like RAW and RAF like RAFT without the T).  


A big, genuine THANK YOU to everyone that got involved in a big or small way. A huge thanks to everyone who volunteered your efforts - 'cos let's face it, you didn't have to but you did. Cheers! 


Oh, and I have started a monthly zine. This month's one has been sent out, but you can sign up to catch the next one full of Xmas treatz:

 

 

 

Multidisciplinary Events at #BDW17 by Karishma Kusurkar

Event: Late Night Design   I   Image credit: Joe Laverty

Event: Late Night Design   I   Image credit: Joe Laverty

A quick shout out - If you're interested in multidisciplinary design, these events that we have curated for #BDW17 might be perfect for you to check out:

Illustrator Marina Esmeraldo will be speaking at Design Camp

Illustrator Marina Esmeraldo will be speaking at Design Camp

Our feature conference event will be returning once more, this time to the beautiful Ulster Museum. We are excited to hear from international design speakers sharing their stories. They’ll be talking illustration, architecture, film & TV production, multidisciplinary design & more...If you're one of the first 50 to purchase a ticket, you'll get a beautiful limited edition #BDW17 tote bag on the day!

*For young designers!* We’re launching an exciting new design event for designers of the future.  This mini-conference and series of workshops will cover design thinking, animation, illustration, maker culture, tech, design entrepreneurship & more to give a taste of the vast array of areas covered by design. 

Event: Late Night Design   I   Image credit: Joe Laverty

Event: Late Night Design   I   Image credit: Joe Laverty

Late Night Design is a design industry event visiting a variety of local design studios and hearing the design journeys of some of the designers working within the studios to inspire and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship within the local design community.

The theme of our 2017 Design Thinking workshop is creating products and services to solve problems that refugees and asylum seekers living in Northern Ireland face. In teams we will begin by discovering the main issues faced; generate ideas and quickly prototype possible solutions. We will end the session with a 'Show & Tell' and feedback.

Printables Artwork by Karishma Kusurkar

Alongside my own design work, I also take on commissions for freelance design.  I don't normally blog about these, but I thought it was about time I started talking about this side of my design practice too 'cos I have lots of fun doing them.  I was excited to work on I Challenge You Printables for Caroline Healy this summer - a . I'd previously branded The Green Sprig tea series for her a couple of years ago - a lovely selection of herbal teas sourced and mixed by Caroline. 

Caroline is a talented author, yogi and entrepreneur and wanted to combine her passion for all three of these things in the printables. We looked at inspiration from her surroundings on the scenic Clare Island, the styling and look of some of her favourite artists and came up with something unique and personal.  We thought it would be lovely to combine subtle ink washes and more graphic pattern-work together and carry this across all of her printables.  

The Ultimate Life Audit - the first part of I Challenge You Printables is currently sold out.  I'll post up a link here when it is back on sale for you to check out.

Here's a selection of the artwork created in the lead up to the book some of which made its way to the final draft!  


Follow Caroline on Instagram at @ichallengeyouprintables

Espionage: The Final Eight by Karishma Kusurkar

One of the best things about Espionage has been getting people to interact with the product and help shape it. I designed 12 characters for Espionage, some of which were loosely based on "real life" folk - very loosely as I didn't want to get sued for defamation due to the sinister nature of the characters - but for the original edition, backers voted on their favourite 8, and here they are: 

  • "Sinister Minister" - Abel Adams
  • "Ace of hearts" - Viktor Valentine
  • "Trust Fund Mercenary" - Gabriel Gardner
  • "Mister Venom" - Caleb Castafiore
  • "Test Tube Baby" - Zara Zaldana
  • "The Bag Lady" - Marcella Mandrake
  • "The Spider" - Aurelie Augustin
  • "The Dead President" - Samuel Santos

The two most popular characters were The Spider & The Dead President!

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One of the comments a game player had was that they liked Gabriel Gardner's ambiguous nature.  This led me to take away any titles from the characters so that they would be less defined by them.