Design Manchester 2020 aims to go global while staying local

For all the obvious reasons, the festival is taking a more digital approach this year, and has partnered up with institutions and creative hubs from around the world to celebrate creativity and design in difficult times

All images courtesy of Design Manchester

This year, Design Manchester’s annual celebration of creativity and design is going online and is set to feature virtual reality events and 3D exhibitions as well as some in-person activities for those based in the city. DM20 has embraced the challenges lockdown and the pandemic has brought on and decided to collaborate with partners all over the world to help bring the festival to life. 

Adopting the mantra of ‘Go Global, Stay Local’, five commissions are set to run from November 12-16 (and beyond), with the aim of connecting the worlds of design, fashion, sustainability, activism and play. One of the biggest events will be the Open Collab + DM20 Connect workshop, a collaboration with the University of Salford and Birmingham City University, which will link cities such as Berlin, Stuttgart, Barcelona, Manchester, Rotterdam and more in an interactive online experience through Patrick Thomas and Jonathan Auch’s Open Collab platform. 

DM20 will also host a series of VR gallery tours and talks for its Yours Truthfully exhibition, co-curated by Kaye Dunnings and Malcolm Garrett. The show features towering billboards inside a VR World with personal messages from a plethora of artists that explore the themes of truth, justice and freedom. 

Featuring work from 70s artists including Jeremy Deller, Anthony Burrill, Sarah Boris and Morag Myerscough, the exhibition hopes to call attention to the most pressing social issues in the world today.

Exhibits from Yours Truthfully

Another highlight happening in the real world is 50 Windows of Creativity, a new city-wide, Covid-safe art trail created by Wild in Art, the team behind Bee in the City. From now until 5 December, the Manchester trail will showcase the work of artists and makers displayed in a series of windows, venues, businesses and spaces across the city centre. From fine art and photography to ceramics and murals, the artwork on display has been curated by emerging creatives who have a connection to Greater Manchester. 

The project will culminate in an auction of all the pieces on display on December 10, with proceeds going to the artists and makers and the We Love MCR Charity, which supports disadvantaged communities.

Instruct Studio for 50 Windows of Creativity. Photo by David Oates
The Playhouse Competition

Finally, in collaboration with Design Manchester and Dutch Design Week, Manchester-based design studios Playground, Ben Clark Design and Barney Ibbotson Illustration are set to create a virtual gallery of the competition they collectively ran during the first lockdown. Called Playhouse, the competition kicked off in April and set the brief to design something to enable people to play at home during lockdown. Open to creatives from all disciplines from all over the world, Playhouse received entries from over 40 countries, and a selection will not only appear as part of the 50 Windows of Creativity commission but also in a special 3D room open to everyone. 

With many more events, talks and workshops on throughout the month of November and the start of December, DM20 may look a little different than normal but it’s still packed with the passion and creativity of past festivals. 

DM20: Go Global, Stay Local runs from November 12-16;