Birmingham Design Festival to feature design for Star Wars, tackling “imposter syndrome” and creating artwork for pop culture

Anthony Burrill, ustwo, Craig Oldham and Astrid Stavro of Atlas are among the speakers announced for Birmingham Design Festival, taking place at various venues across the city this June

This year is the inaugural event, billed as “an ambitious celebration of the dynamic design industry” aimed at design professionals, students and those who “just enjoy a casual critique of the modern world” alike.

As well as talks, the event will be hosting a series of workshops, exhibitions, demonstrations and screenings loosely separated into three “Design Districts” – Graphic, Digital and Product. These are largely sited in Birmingham City Centre, Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter respectively.

Work by the speakers at the An Evening Extravaganza of Printed Passion sessions.

For the opening day of the festival on Thursday 7 June, highlights include Dave Sedgwick from StudioDBD discussing his process, design work and creative outcomes; ASHA founder Marksteen Adamson talking about his Behold The Man project, a a three-year collaborative study with Alan Dainton, a homeless Cheltenham man battling addiction and Project PEEL, which explores the problems of social media, self-expression and self-identity for young people; Dare’s Gemma Germains on “imposter syndome” in “an industry obsessed with making it up as we go along”; and Natural History Museum UX designer Florence Okoye on “the problematics of design thinking and our day-to-day processes” and more.

That night, Thursday headliners Rejane Dal Bello, Craig Oldham, Astrid Stavro and Anthony Burrill will come tother for An Evening Extravaganza of Printed Passion at the Birmingham Rep Theatre.

The Graphic District continues apace on the Friday of the festival, when our very own editor Patrick Burgoyne takes to the Birmingham Rep Theatre stage with creative industry hotshots Jack Renwick, Trevor Beattie, Jim Sutherland and Marina Willer for An Adventure into Advertising & Bighearted Branding. To warm up for those headliners, earlier in the day the Digital  District Will host a talk with the baffling but intriguing title “What is the f***ing point of putting a roof rack on my car when the engine is f***ed?”, courtesy of Jo Simmons and Estelle Ricoux of digital agency Friday. Another Friday (as in day, not agency) talk to look out for is Lou Hisbergue of North discussing the Science Museum Group rebrand.

One for the droid-heads on Saturday afternoon: Andrew Booth, creative director at BLIND Ltd and Laura Dishington, lead designer on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Solo: A Star Wars Story and Blade Runner 2049 will be introducing a special screening of Solo: A Star Wars Story at The Electric Cinema; while that evening will herald the third and final Graphic District talk. This time it’s An Illuminating Celebration of Colour, Craft & Creativity at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, showcasing work from The Yarza Twins, helloMuller and Aaron James Draplin.

Tickets for the event go on sale this Saturday (21 April), with a special early bird promotion for attendees who book their tickets in the first two weeks of launch. These ticket holders will be automatically entered into a prize draw to win VIP access to the festival, including a four night stay at Bloc Hotels, a festival pass and a festival pack including BDF2018 merch. Across the event, there are also many free talks.

Full details at