Birmingham Design Festival

Earlier this year, I was invited to speak at this year's Birmingham Design Festival (BDF) by Daniel Alcorn, one of the festival's directors. I was excited to join the diverse lineup of design speakers which ranged from independent designers and design studios like myself to well known design brands including Sony, Google and Adobe.

Before I arrived, BDF had asked all the speakers to submit a quote on "Truth matters..." and imagine my surprise when I saw mine on a billboard in Digbeth in Birmingham!

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As a fellow festival organiser, I was particularly empathetic towards the huge amount of effort Daniel, Luke and the team had put in to make the festival enjoyable, with special touches including the most epic speaker pack containing everything you might possibly need including Gaviscon (!), district sponsors Freitag's pop up keychain-making station using their signature materials was amazing and a "confession" station stood outside the product stage for attendees to reflect on the festival and its theme.

The 2019 BDF festival theme was "Truth" and my take on the theme was "Peer Review" - a talk about design feedback and creative collaboration.

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In a 30 minute talk + Q&A I shared some of the recent projects I have worked on. I managed to sneak in some quotes from Andy J. Pizza, Jessica Hische and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, three people who are always pushing for honest interaction in what they do. I spoke at the BCU STEAMhouse - a space for design entrepreneurs to prototype and test ideas aimed at encouraging the collaboration of the arts, science, technology, engineering and maths (STEAM) sectors.

I was able to attend the last session of the festival - an evening of talks by Jennifer Daniel (Google), Richard Small (Sony), Laura Pol (OLIO) & Andre Jay Meissner (Adobe XD) in the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. A couple of the images that really stuck with me were Richard Small's slide on designing for a purpose in which the internal workings of a headphone had a special pattern in order to improve the quality of sound and on detail-oriented Japanese design.


Google's Jennifer Daniel did a hilarious (and informative!) talk on emojis, how they are developed, how people can input their own ideas for them and how emojis are used around the world. I like this slide in particular which was about how something as simple as a symbol for a dog can turn into a wide range of emojis and on how good design for emojis can be all about getting down to the basic components of what you are trying to show to fit the widest possible audience:


All in all, I had a great experience speaking and attending #BDF2019, a well run, action-packed design festival which no doubt will go from strength to strength as it goes forward.

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