Design Festival Discussions: Bench 9th April

Emerging festival themes to explore so far:





Process and experience rather than product.

Craft and the handmade as important elements of this, ideas of sustainability and recycling.

Evolving and making the festival – festival as process – emergent design.

Time invested in the process of making.

Communities of experience and engagement – for example through workshops or events that engage people in activities.

Engagement and interaction as key aims.

Material experience


Associations with mobile phone, mobile lifestyles, movability, motility, hanging mobiles….

Modular/portable/collapsible spaces/architecture, how this might enable events to move around the city.

How modular structures might be more sustainable because theyʼre reusable, easy to transport, adaptable.

The mobile might enable movement out from the city to communities on the fringes, how this might engage a broader audience, how it taps into local experiences of the city.

Pop-up spaces such as markets and how market stalls could be used to promote experiences rather than as a stall for selling products.

Possibilities for an anti-commercial/anti-commodity approach.

Communication of the ephemeral process.


ʻWasting timeʼ through doing/making/activity that might have no direct purpose or use other than the experience itself.

How this might link to ideas of slowness. Slow design; slow spaces. (Slow movement, slow food). Low stimulus spaces. ‘Chill Bubbles’

Also how ʻwasteʼ taps into ideas of sustainability and reuse, how we define wasted time? Who decides when time is well spent.

Waste as material.

No_use, uselessness .

Frameworks for discussion of the themes:





Thinking about venues – historical, disused, abandoned, overlooked, badly designed.

ʻRe-generationʼ – what does this mean? Is it defined purely in economic terms or does it have other meanings that might tie into time: generation as ageing, growth – natural/artificial.

Community regeneration, inspiring people to be involved.

Gardening/urban landscape, the greening of spaces, rooftops.

Lost spaces such as the River Medlock hidden beneath the city, ties to industrial heritage.

Manchester as a ʻspaceʼ, what defines it?

ʻEmptyʼ space as a rich space, how this might tap into ideas of slowness and quietness as values to explore. “Manchester Zen”.

The unexpected and the unknown, elements of surprise – do you participate and engage?


Using the handmade to engage people in process, how this might tie into timescale – for example, does the festival have to take place in a short timeframe or can it have longevity? How people might get involved in learning and/or sharing their skills through workshops, events, discussion.

Bringing people together through collective actions – these might also involve shared experiences such as eating, social events.

Ephemeral materials – the use of ʻthingsʼ/materials that might disappear, decompose, merge with their surroundings.


Not simply marketing in terms of commercial branding but focused more on communication and audience participation and engagement.

Involving wide communities of people, particularly at the local level.

How the festival evolves and might ʻbrandʼ itself as it unfolds.

Documentation as a key element of the process – animation/video/audio/online/viral streams/social networking, etc.

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