Our top picks for Design Manchester 16 11 Oct

The theme of this year’s festival is Design City and it aims to celebrate how design has made an impact in making Manchester and beyond. DM aren’t simply looking at the city’s architecture, culture and world-class media, but the recent growth of start-ups and studios in creative tech, shops for a design-conscious generation and the return of craft in everything from beer to print in the new culture of making. The festival will shine a spotlight on the talent and skill that defines our character, and at the role of design in rethinking everything from retail to transport, enterprise to health and care in the emerging post-digital world. Asking the question whose image of the city should matter most as we design for the future.

We’re looking forward to all this and more at a series of great events, exhibitions and parties from 12th to 23rd October, at beautiful, historic and innovative venues throughout the city, including our own and from many bars and clubs in the Northern Quarter to the Old Granada Studios, the Royal Northern College of Music to The Lowry and HOME, The Sharp Project to the Co-op’s striking head office in Angel Square.

We’ve picked out some of the events we are most looking forward to, and don’t forget to check out Alan Kitching: The Manchester Guardian in our own window exhibition space.

WEDNESDAY 12th – FRIDAY 21st OCTOBER, 10am-6pm
Alan Kitching – A Life in Letterpress
Manchester School of Art


Alan Kitching is one of the world’s foremost practitioners of letterpress typographic design and printmaking. He is renowned for his expressive use of wood and metal letterforms in creating visuals for commissions and limited edition prints.

This exhibition has toured selected venues across the UK starting in London’s Somerset House. As well as showcasing finished pieces of work it will show the method and process behind key works with sketches, proofs and roughs gathered from Alan’s own archive. Objects, artefacts and equipment from Alan’s workshops will enlighten visitors to the inspiration and motivation behind the work.

The exhibition is accompanied by the release of an illustrated biography of the same name, featuring over 400 prints and published by Laurence King. As an exclusive to Design Manchester, Alan will be creating bespoke items for sale during the festival and will also host a masterclass, details of which will be announced soon.

A Life in Letterpress can be seen every day from 12th to 21st October, except Sunday 16th October when the building is closed.

THURSDAY 13th OCTOBER, 12pm-6pm
Women in Print Exhibition
The Co-Op, Angel Square (partner event)


From political reformists to palaeobotanists, the work of women has helped to shape Manchester into the great city it is today. Women in Print is an exhibition of work by a host of local designers, print-makers and illustrators which celebrates the life and achievements of iconic female figures who have made a significant contribution to Manchester.

Expanded from its launch earlier this year the project will feature an exhibition, talks and debates taking place in the iconic Co-Op HQ and Northern Quarter creative space PLY.

THURSDAY 13th OCTOBER, 12.30pm-6pm
Design City Conference
Royal Northern College of Music
Tickets £36 / students with a valid NUS card: £18


Now in its fourth year, this day-long conference of ideas and inspiration features internationally celebrated and influential speakers discussing ‘Design City’ and showing an insight into their creative work.

The conference will be hosted by Patrick Burgoyne, editor of Creative Review. Speakers include multidisciplinary interaction designer Jason Bruges, immersive tech artists FIELD, graphic designer Alexandra Wood, Dutch design collective Trapped in Suburbia, Warner Bros.’ senior VP of creative affairs and head of Blue Ribbon content Peter Girardi, with more to be announced. Ben Young and Joe Hartley from the the Pilcrow pub will also be there, explaining how the community has designed and built a contemporary pub in Sadler’s Yard.

The Royal Northern College will host a full afternoon of creativity, with supporters G. F Smith hosting a showcase of print and others joining them in the foyer to be announced.

SATURDAY 15th and FRIDAY 21st OCTOBER, 11am-1pm
Street Art Tour – Northern Quarter


A recent history of the Northern Quarter, told through its street art. As featured in the Telegraph’s Incredible Street Arts Tours.

Learn about the creation of the Northern Quarter as we know it today, find out the major names behind some of the area’s oldest street art and why it became concentrated here, and explore the recent wave of paste ups, murals and paintings that create the unique feel of the Northern Quarter. An insight into how modern art movements in Manchester hope to continue to drive creativity within the neighbourhood, and how art was key in the redevelopment of a fast decaying area of the city.

“We’ve long thought the best way to get to know a place is through its art and its artists. Hayley absolutely proved this theory by presenting us with a completely alternative view of a city we thought we already knew fairly well. Her depth of knowledge, thrown together with an easy manner and a ton of passion made for a really great, tailored experience that left us wanting to know more!” – East Street Arts.

Tours are hosted by award winning writer Hayley Flynn. They are family friendly and will run from 11am until 1pm.

SATURDAY 15th – SUNDAY 16th OCTOBER, 10am-5pm
Design City Fair
London Road Fire Station


The Design City Fair is a celebration of creatives, makers and print in collaboration with G. F Smith, Manchester Print Fair and Hot Bed Press.

Now in its third year, it has relocated to the stunning surrounds of The London Road Fire Station, where we will host more than 100 creatives over two days, with affordable works for sale and a schedule of workshops including screenprinting, letterpressing, book-binding, frame-making and a special origami workshop.

During the day, live artworks will be created around this unique space and there will be many opportunities to get involved: most workshops are completely free or require a small donation.

In the courtyard there will be music with local DJs alongside food and drink including a special festival beer with local brewery Alphabet.

This is a free family friendly event open to all, put together with help from Allied London. If you are interested in exhibiting/selling your work please contact Manchester Print Fair or Manchester Artists Book Fair.


THURSDAY 20th OCTOBER, 6pm-11pm
Manchester Moleskine
Old Granada Studios
FREE, but pre-registration is required


For almost two years, Jon Massey and Adam Stanway have documented Manchester’s affluent creative landscape. Bound within an A5 Moleskine sketchbook, the project has captured the narrative of an entire city and catalogued over 50 local visionaries.
The pair will close DM16 and their travelling book in the iconic Old Granada Studios.

During the evening, final submissions will be created and projected live, and the book will be exhibited in its entirety for the first time. Alongside a feast of musical treats and local DJ’s, there will be food and drink plus more surprises, as yet to be announced.

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