22 January 2024

Lancaster University students launch Northern Design Festival for 2024

Tired of your three-hour train journeys to a connection event? Bored of rail replacement buses? If you're nearer Lancaster than London, here's a new design event you'll want to check out.


We all know about the London Design Festival. But in these days of remote working and regional powerhouses, the days when everything in the design industry necessarily centred around the capital are long behind us. So what about the rest of the country?


That's exactly what a group of students at Lancaster University led by Antonia Arbova thought. And they didn't just moan into their subsidised beers: they did something about it.

In fact, they made so much noise about the need for an equivalent event up North, that countless design partners and brands have signed on to support the cause. And now for 2024, they're launching the Northern Design Festival.

What is it?

The Northern Design Festival is a three-day festival hosted in Lancaster on 17-19 May 2024. For these three days, the historical city with a proud tradition of traditional crafts will become a hub for Northern design, showcasing what local talent has to offer.


Through panel discussions, presentations, workshops, mentorships and networking, the festival has partnered with the UK's Design Council, G.F Smith, Foilco, Nomad, Two Stories, SUN (Studio Up North), Fraser House, EXP, Kellanova and others.


With an opening event on the Friday evening and two full days on the Saturday and Sunday, the festival will work as a creative launch pad for aspiring designers and creatives to explore the industry from different perspectives through experts in the creative community. The idea is to help connect the local design community and make it bigger, louder and better, to open up fresh possibilities in the region.

Why is it needed?

If you're wondering why a Northern Design Festival is needed, you probably don't live in Northern England. In southern cities creatives are spoilt for choice, but opportunities are much more limited up North, depriving creatives of the space to pursue their passions and connect with the industry outside of education.


For instance, in an online survey, the Northern Design Committee found that only 12.5% of those studying a creative major at University of Lancaster feel prepared to enter the creative industries after their undergraduate degrees.


Additionally, 82.6% believe the North does not have enough creative opportunities, and 78.3% feel there aren't enough creative opportunities in Lancaster, making the festival a crucial step into the right direction.

Confirmed topics

Here's a taste of what you can expect at the first Northern Design Festival this May:


North + South; the story of a love hate relationship: Shining a light on the creative opportunity gap between the north and south and the exploration of solutions.


How AI will not steal your job...: A topic to demystify the concept of destructive ai into a design tool that will promote and not hinder creativity.


Future Trends in Design: A discussion on crafting unique and cohesive designs, along with effective approaches to highlight upcoming trends.


The value of Design in the fight for climate change: How to efficiently apply sustainable design methods to combating climate change.


Design in the Aftermath of the Pandemic: Exploring the opportunities created by the pandemics introduction of hybrid co-design.


Your Journey: Share your journey into the industry to inspire and support our future designers.

Further Information

Northern Design Festival is a student-led event "bridging the gap between industry and community, showing that the future of design is in the hands of creatives". To find out more or see how you can get involved, check out the links below. There'll be loads of things happening in the run-up to the festival, so make sure you keep an eye out.