Another day. Another great event as part of Belfast Design Week to attend. The University Of Ulster, Belfast Campus played host to a series of inspirational talks from designers, in several mediums, who were born, raised, based or not so based anymore, in Northern Ireland. The session kicked off with a reminder that this is the first event of it’s kind, Belfast Design Week that is, to occur in as many as 70 years. Crazy. Hopefully this will become a regular event as the roster is diverse, demonstrates the importance of design in our city and further afield and shows that there is an abundance of talent going somewhat unrecognised here at home.
For this post I have decided to use a note taking format with a synopsis of sorts at the end. These are points that stuck out to me during the talks. They come in the form of inspirational quotes, mantras, perhaps rundowns of journeys in bitesize form. Hopefully it works. If not, let me know. You can click through each person’s accompanying images to find their web presence and work. Thanks!
Karla McNally / Bill & Coo Paper Co. / Stationary, Prints & Cards
_Dreamer, Maker, Doer.
_Moved from Belfast to Louisville / Vancouver / Indiana.
_Journey led to crossroads of own venture or teaching. Went for the hard option and came home to start a business.
_What would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Click through to read about Karla's story and check out her bespoke designs.
Fintan Mulholland / Knitwear
_Opportunity through immense talent. Award winning knitwear design.
_Sculptural approach to knit. Beautiful seamless pieces.
_Tokyo residency exploring visual elements up to 12,000 years old that inspired cyberpunk offerings.
_Belfast remains home using Black Mountain & Tomb Street as photography locations.
Click through to Fintan's Tumblr where he has curated imagery and audio to create a feel for his work, something that came across strongly in his presentation.
Helen Kane / Isle Jewellery
_Motivation comes from process.
_Designer sister, Geraldine based in Tokyo whilst Helen and the family at home based in Ireland take care of logistics.
_Father took a course in Jewellery here to learn process and contribute to the business.
_Modern Ireland challenging stereotypes by fusing modern Japanese culture.
_Telling a story through pieces inspired by Irish culture and personal experience
Click through to check out Geraldine's collections. Love the Fionn Men's ring shown above.
Alan Ritchie / C60 Architects
_Client conversations centre on Need, Want, Budget. Ultimately creating solutions.
_Scotland to Study, Returned to Belfast to complete, Moved to London. Returned for family but remains in Ireland for the beauty.
_Range of work in financial district of London, rundown areas re-appropriated, contributed to Olympic Park overlay design.
_There’s a micro vs. macro context to the design.
_Future is now. Negativity is the minority.
Click through to check out some of Alan and his team's beautiful work. You can see their process from sketching concepts to modelling and finished projects.
Stephen Kincaid / Big Wet Fish
_Global company. Designing solutions for web. Rewriting the hosting handbook.
_Small start up to large enterprise. Between India and Ireland.
_Mistakes make for lessons. Proaction turns to reaction.
_Find a mentor. Keep your financials in check. Know your worth.
Big Wet Fish run donut drop from Doughzy Donuts. Follow @BigWetFish on Twitter to be in with a chance of getting a donut delivery.
Kevin Callaghan / Artist
_Maker from Donegal. Studied in Derry. Failed Art. Moved to China for residency post college then across Ireland and finally London.
_Running solo is demanding.
_RCA London, amazing place to study. Relentless. Over saturated.
_Collaboration is key to move forward in design, architecture and business.
Click through to see a video piece featuring Kevin talking about his work at the London Sculpture Workshop.
Jude Cassidy / Textile Designer
_One of last remaining hand weavers in Ireland. Worked with Christian Dior, The Merchant, Belfast & plethora of luxury boutique hotels
_Worked between London, Paris & Thailand.
_Networking is key. Listen to advice. Confidence not cockiness.
_Stick to what you’re good at, then diversify. Questions are important.
_Don’t work tired. (Guilty of that)
_Tenacity is the quality displayed by someone who just won’t quit, who keeps trying until they reach their goals.
Michael Rice / Ceramicist
_Now lives, teaches in Dubai.
_Went from college to Hong Kong within a week of skipping graduation.
_Hunter Gather mentality. Started photographing own work.
_Spirals are a massive influence as he attempts to rationalise existence and the universe using patterns.
_Took a residency in Pakistan. Met wife. Compromise was Dubai. Wealth of opportunities through writing and being published.
_Create, Record, Exhibit, Promote, Demonstrate, Write.
Click through to check out Michael's work listed on studiopottery.co.uk.
There were several big pointers from today’s series of talks and hopefully the note taking format of the post made those clear. Collaboration is a big one. Perhaps, that for us, we must overcome the islander mentality akin to Ireland and make global connections. Whether it’s grasping at opportunities for residencies, or maybe, taking a job elsewhere. Simply asking a question to the person next to you and taking advice. This it what makes for sustainable creative output and reward. Constant collaboration. Home is always where you left it after all. Interestingly, this is what makes each person who spoke at “Homegrown” an inspiration as regardless of whether they returned home or not, they all expanded their imprint globally. Extremely happy I attended and it would be great to see this format return for the next Design Week, assuming we’ll have one.
LOFT is hosting our monthly Drink & Draw at the Arts & Disability Forum this Friday 6th November. The event is sold out but email to get on waiting list here. Thanks for reading.