Dundee Design Festival 2021 opens across five ‘Design Houses’

Dundee Design Festival 2021

THE latest edition of the biennial Dundee Design Festival opens this Thursday, 23 September until Sunday 3 October at four locations around the city and online.

The theme for Dundee Design Festival 2021 is Every Where Design, exploring how design is an essential but often invisible part of people’s lives. The festival, which is free to attend will be held at four sites around Dundee and will also have a virtual presence, for audiences anywhere in the world to take part.

The festival will be centred around five ‘Design Houses’ created in collaboration with local communities and organisations to profile the value of design within our everyday lives.

The locations of the design houses are a former pump station in Finlathen Park, a retail unit in the main shopping area of Stobswell, Hilltown Park situated in the neighbourhood of Hilltown to the north of the city-centre, the waterfront plaza surrounding V&A Dundee, and a Digital Design House online.

The online Digital Design House is full of specially commissioned content exploring everyday objects, communities and historical features. It will include Design Jargon Glossary, interviews with a dozen local and international designers explaining over 50 different design terms in a game-show format; videos on Everyday Design Objects, telling the design stories of items such as the electric toothbrush; and two Behavioural Design Games, created in partnership with inGAME. The Digital Design House will remain online and accessible to all for free beyond the festival.

At Finlathen, visitors can create their own zine, as well as upcycle clothing developed in collaboration with Badbish Designs (Sara Gillespie) and Kate Scarlet Harvey. Stobswell Design House is a store where tokens are traded to select pieces and assemble a character, designed by Headless Greg. Hilltown Design House features a games system designed by Dr Lynn Love and Dr Paul Gault where visitors can create a new park game, as well as a soundscape with audio from across the world including sounds from other UNESCO cities. At the Waterfront visitors can explore the design process outside V&A Dundee by running through the Ball Run designed by FifeX alongside Agency of None.

Participants can download or pick up trails to follow a design journey in each of the Design House areas, as well as three activity sheets. One of the sheets explores the design of Maintenance Hole Covers, including contributions from other UNESCO Cities around the world.

Dundee Design Festival Colouring Book has been made for DDF21 to engage participants in the urban design of every day. The book highlights some of the fascinating design stories in Dundee, from car parks, multi-storey flats and streets to churches, shopping centres and a water tower. Created by German illustrator, Dana Ulama, in collaboration with Dundee creatives, Kathryn Rattray, Stephanie Crow and Poppy Jarratt, the Colouring Book is a fun, free and accessible way for anyone to explore the purpose and story of design in Dundee.

Dundee Design Festival 2021 is delivered by UNESCO City of Design Dundee and produced by Agency of None, a design studio in Dundee run by Lyall Bruce and Ryan McLeod. Agency of None also produced the 2019 edition of the festival located in the Keiller Centre. The festival has been developed by a content team of designers and creatives, including four intern positions for early-stage career designers, who coordinated all the content for the Digital Design House. 

Ryan McLeod and Lyall Bruce, producers of Dundee Design Festival 2021, said: “This year’s festival will celebrate Every Where Design, exploring the hidden and unusual design that exists all around us. We are continuing to develop our vision of a design festival as a series of playful experiments that opens up design to new audiences by encouraging people to participate in lots of hands-on design activities.”

“For DDF21 we have 4 physical design houses across the city each containing a design tool that was developed with community collaboration. From creating new forms of play in a park, redesigning old clothes, a giant playable design process and a shop that encourages you to consider wellbeing, we have worked with designers with many different skills to bring together a design festival that puts the focus on experimentation and play to create a unique experience.”

Annie Marrs, Lead Officer, UNESCO City of Design Dundee, said: “From the outset, we’ve always tried to ensure that Dundee Design Festival reflects the world we are living in, with content showing the ways in which design can impact on our day to day lives.

“From the vast industrial space of West Ward Works in 2017 to the underused retail units of the Keiller Centre in 2019, our choice of venue has been really important to highlight the local relevance of the festival and 2021 is another step on that journey. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of our local areas, local services and communities. It wouldn’t make sense to hold DDF21 anywhere but within our neighbourhoods.”

UNESCO City of Design Dundee is now hosted in V&A Dundee, Scotland’s design museum, as part of a partnership to further develop Dundee’s aim to position and champion design as a catalyst for community, physical and economic transformation.

The festival is generously supported by Abertay University, Creative Scotland, Dundee City Council, Hillcrest Housing Association, InGAME, Leisure & Culture Dundee, University of Dundee and V&A Dundee.

Dundee was awarded UNESCO City of Design status in 2014 and is the first and only UNESCO City of Design in the UK.

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