Sheffield Design Week: 23-29 June


If you have even a passing interest in design, make sure that you have 23-29 June marked in your diary. The first Sheffield Design Week will showcase the city’s thriving creative sector, whilst also attracting some impressive examples of world-class design. The week will see a wide range of activities hosted across Sheffield, ranging from a formal conference for those working in the design sector to a series of free events designed to stimulate interest and discussion.

Sheffield has more design and craft studios than any other city outside London and the city is increasingly recognised as a hub of design and creative expertise, both nationally and internationally. Its growing status as a design destination is evidenced by the fact that the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Design Council and the Crafts Council are all taking part in the event.

Sheffield Design Week is the brainchild of Patrick Murphy of Made North, who was keen to ensure that it reflected the city’s distinctive world view. “We didn’t want this to be an event where everyone stands around admiring a £100,000 sofa that no-one can afford. We wanted to focus on the really positive impact that good design can have on a day-to-day, practical level.” One example of this approach will be looking at how design can improve the experience of both staff and patients in the stressful environment of an A&E department.

Image by Ian Anderson, The Designers Republic
Image by Ian Anderson, The Designers Republic

This emphasis on the practical benefit of good design is echoed in the tongue-in-cheek title of the Design Week’s conference, ‘Can Design Save the World?’, and a Sheffield sense of humour can be seen in many other aspects of the week, such as a special print produced for the event by Ian Anderson of The Designers Republic. The image is allegedly based on a sketch that Anderson produced several years ago in response to being repeatedly asked why such an internationally acclaimed designer continued to be based in Sheffield.

Another Sheffield attribute that features strongly in the programme is the emphasis on creative collaboration across the various discipline of graphic design, architecture, technology, product design and craft work. Many of the events are designed to encourage random conversations across different disciplines, and the week will also be hosting a call to action to designers from different perspectives collaborating around the development of a better, cheaper emergency shelter to house people made homeless by natural disasters.

Image by Pete McKee
Image by Pete McKee

The week will be launched on Monday 23 June with an event at the Millennium Gallery, which will showcase the Yorkshire in Yellow exhibition specially commissioned for the Design Week. Famous designers from Sheffield, Britain and further afield have designed over 60 T-shirts to celebrate the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire. Those involved include Margaret Calvert, responsible for the iconic design of the UK’s road signs, and Pete Mckee, who has come up with his own idiosyncratic take on the tour.

Dear Sheffield is another exhibition in the new Moor Market, featuring a series of huge postcards on which architects and people living across Sheffield have penned a few lines to in praise of their favourite buildings. Meanwhile at Park Hill, The Brutal and the Beautiful will celebrate northern modernist architecture.

Alongside these events there will also be a series of specially commissioned film screenings, including the documentary ‘From Nothing, Something’ looking at the creative process across a range of disciplines with contributions from designers, novelists, musicians and scientists.

Finally, for those of you who like to stimulate both mind and body, there will be three design trails across the city – an architecture trail taking in some iconic Sheffield buildings, a street art trail and a design trail linking up the various exhibitions and talks linked to Design Week.

Words: David Edwards



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