Blue Sky Thinking

Students from Textiles in Practice, Interactive Art, Graphics, Interior Design, and 3D design, work in small teams to concept a Future Design Festival in Manchester

Students were asked to produce a manifesto for a design festival in Manchester and pitch the concept  to Manchester City Council.  ‘Blue sky thinking’ encourages students to come up with the most creative solutions to a design festival without being weighed down by too many constraints, as the focus remains on the process of exploring ideas rather than the co-ordination of the festival itself. This way the Council gets to experience forward thinking solutions which are likely to be innovative and novel suggestions of how a festival could be run.  One such concept was a secret ‘Dark Festival’, celebrating a counter culture – an underground voice to the commercialised design festival during the day. This grass roots festival would take place at night and concentrate on making people explore different senses to interact with the city space, rather than observing it.

There were novel explorations of how an audience would physically navigate a festival and many of the teams thought about the movement of people around the city as an integral part. A day time festival concept focussed on community, local business and sustainability where students envisioned breaking down the physical and physiological barriers that exist between the bustling Northern Quarter and Ancoats, which sits quietly only a few meters away. Taking note of the many car parks in great locations across the city, this group also explored these banal spaces that seem to be a statement of our reliance on cars and the city’s need to continue to improve it’s public transport and festival goers would be guided across the city into these ‘pop-up’ exhibits.   In contrast the previously mentioned ‘Dark Festival’ was concepted to be fluid and unstructured, with no programme, and no set ‘route’ for its participants, instead, being centred on intrigue and discovery.

Through the mixture of 3D designers, Graphics, Textiles and Interactive students, you can see how each student brought their own skills and students feed off one another. Through choice of space, branding and Identity, structures acting as pop-up spaces, the interaction of people when in the space itself and more,  it was clear there was a melody of complimentary skill sets.

“The first day was awful! But then we just met every day to circulate ideas and discussed every aspect! It helps we have been experimenting, as when I hit a wall and just can’t see how it would work, someone else feeds into the idea and we move forward”.


concepting a popup space using a 3d model


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