Belfast Design Week 2018: 5 Highlights


2018 saw our 4th Belfast Design Week take place in venues across Belfast.

We learn a lot each year - whether it is hearing creatives’ personal stories, learning practical business and design tips or getting behind-the-scenes at practitioners’ studios to see the design process.

Here are 5 of my highlights of 2018:

  1. TRYING SOMETHING NEW - We ran a new series of workshops called “Design Skills” which were some of our most popular events. Our Portfolio event as part of this allowed students to get direct feedback from expert designers from Smarts, Fathom, The Foundation, Mammoth and CME Group and it was great to see designers showing portfolios across a range of disciplines including UX, Illustration, Products and Branding.

  2. PLACES & SPACES - We couldn’t run Belfast Design Week without the help of amazing local venues. We particularly love the quirky and unconventional ones and this year venues included Curated Kitchen - a coffee shop near Ulster University, Flatiron Belfast - a beautiful new space above Bittles Bar, Farset Labs - a hackerspace tucked away in Weavers Court, Portview Trade Centre - a group of buildings filled with creative studios of various kinds, UNIQUE - the art and design store at Ulster University and Vault Artist Studios - a colourful space full of artists of various kinds.

  3. BEHIND-THE-SCENES - At many of the events, we got to glimpse the behind-the-scenes workings of designers and agencies. Late Night Design included the studios of McGonigle McGrath, Lines & Current, The Make Up Department, CALLAN & Creative Exchange Artist Studios.

    Design Skills’ Branding event took place in the Mammoth Studios and the Products & Services event took place in Dawson Andrews.

    We heard from The Art Department at Game of Thrones in a joint event in partnership with BBC Digital Cities. We learned about sketching concepts for a set to building and sculpting structures and sourcing imagery.

  4. COLLABORATIONS - It’s brilliant to hear of collaborations by local designers with other creatives, and it’s particularly fascinating to see how they can work with companies around the world whilst being based in a smaller city like Belfast.

    At Design Camp we heard a joint talk from local illustrator Stephen Maurice Graham and US artist Nick Gazin who have been collaborating together regularly for VICE. We also saw London-based design student Indiya Tupe collaborate on an exhibition with Belfast-based graduate designer Alice Kearney on a graphic design exhibition.

  5. DESIGN & OTHER SECTORS - It’s always fascinating to see in what way design can be a part of other sectors eg. science, public spaces and make up artistry and going forward we would be delighted to carry it forward. This year we held Design Science in collaboration with Farset Labs and had astrophysics professor Stephen Smartt from Q.U.B. and UX Planner Andrew McCrea from Fathom who gave the perspectives of designers and scientists on how to visualise complex research. We also ran a workshop on how to visualise the distance to the moon.

    We ran an Urban Design Challenge in partnership with Destination CQ and multidisciplinary teams worked together closely over several Saturdays to come up with concepts for the Cathedral Quarter. We also ran The Design Experiment with MakeMatic, Ormeau Baths and Barclays Eagle Labs.

    The Make Up Department’s Pam Smyth did a hilarious Q&A at Design Camp and a behind-the-scenes at Late Night Design. This is an area of design that has become incredibly important to the film productions happening in Northern Ireland and it was great to gain insight into what it involves.

    As a small team of designers and design enthusiasts, Design Week relies on the amazing support it gets each year from individuals and businesses. If you want to get in touch about Design Week 2019 (I know, early!) you can contact myself or the full team on

    Looking forward to 2019!