DesignMCR Is Back! Everything You Need to Know About DM16

— 4 minutes, 33 seconds read —

Step aside, Halloween, there’s only one October event that truly matters in Manchester – the Design Manchester Festival, and it’s almost here!

Back for its fourth year of celebrating our city’s creative genius, DesignMCR16 promises to be yet bigger and better than ever, pulling in more designers, artists, musicians and even politicians than ever before.

So when is it?

DesignMCR16 will run from Wednesday 12th to Sunday 23rd of October

And what is it?

For those of you who may be new to the party, DesignMCR is a festival that first exploded onto the Manchester creative scene back in 2013 and has been eagerly anticipated by the creative industry every year since.

Feeling passionately that Manchester deserved a collaborative and inclusive celebration of the city’s creative talent, DesignMCR’s creators set about talking with sponsors and inviting high profile guest speakers to get the ball rolling. Eventually, the festival we know and love today was born.

Now, each year when October rolls around, we’re treated to a feast of design inspiration and imagination, with opportunities for new projects, collaborations and friendships waiting at each event.

What’s it about this year?

With previous festivals focusing on themes such as ‘Longevity’, ‘The Science of Imagination’ and ‘Know How’, this year will see a week-long celebration of ‘Design City’ – celebrating the part design plays in making Manchester and other cities great to live in.

Everything from our architecture and culture to our start-ups, shops and even craft beer will be celebrated through a series of talks, workshops, exhibitions and parties scattered across the city.

Who’s going to be there?

Look out for these familiar faces and organisations along the way:

Alan Kitching – Typographer and letterpress practitioner

OH OK LTD – Manchester design studio

Alice Rawsthorn – Design writer for the International New York Times

Colin Burns – Chief Design Officer for BBC Design & Engineering

Michael Clark – Dancer and choreographer

Andy Burnham – Mayor of Greater Manchester

Sir Christopher Frayling – Author on cultural history and contemporary culture

Manchester Moleskine – Design collaboration documenting Manchester’s creatives

What can we see?

Here’s but a taste of what’s to come:

Hand Craft Exhibition, 12th – 23rd October
10.00am – 5.30pm – Manchester Craft and Design Centre

British design studio, HAND and paper pioneers, G.F Smith invited the resident makers of the Manchester Craft and Design Centre to get creative with HAND.01 – a packable, refillable, paper-topped modular table designed by HAND studio to enable inspiration to be captured wherever it may strike. All 49 pieces of work have now been collated to form a huge mural representing the design centre, so get down there to meet the makers and check out the finished design.

Alan Kitching – A Life in Letterpress Exhibition, 12th – 21st October
10.00am – 6.00pm – Manchester School of Art

A typography geek’s delight – one of the world’s most well known practitioners of letterpress typographic design and printmaking, Alan Kitching, has brought his touring exhibition to Manchester. Some of his best finished works will be on show alongside the methods and processes behind his work and some of his very own studio equipment.

Neurodiversity in the City, 12th October
6.00pm – 9.30pm, Hyper Island

The BBC’s Project Cape and Manchester design studio magneticNorth have teamed up to address the question: How can we design a city that is accessible for neurodiverse people? A series of short talks will be followed by a fun, inclusive workshop designed to help budding designers and technologists appreciate that we all think differently. This is a free event but places are limited, so register your interest here.

Design City Conference, 13th October
12.30pm – 6.00pm, Royal Northern College of Music

Hosted by Patrick Burgoyne, editor of Creative Review, and featuring speakers including lighting installation designer Jason Bruges, graphic designer Alexandra Wood and Warner Bros’ head of ‘alternative animation’ Peter Girardi, this year’s conference promises to be a fantastic afternoon of inspiration and insight.

Design City Fair, 15th – 16th October
10.00am – 5.00pm, London Road Fire Station

G.F Smith, Manchester Print Fair and Hot Bed Press have collaborated to bring us the Design City Fair – a celebration of print. Here you’ll find affordable works from more than 100 creatives as well as screenprinting, letterpressing, book-binding, frame-making and origami workshops to get stuck into. Oh, and there’ll also be music, food and beer…

City ID: The Great Debate, 19th October
6.30pm – 9.00pm, Old Granada Studios

Discussing our city’s identity will be an impressive panel of designers, innovators and policy makers including:

Emer Coleman, digital pioneer

Peter Mandelson, Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University

Ian Anderson of Designer’s Republic,

Andy Burnham MP,

Lou Cordwell of magneticNorth,

Claire Mookerjee of Future Cities Catapult

Mike Rawlinson of City ID,

The debate is an opportunity for our city’s design community to contribute to Design Manchester’s evidence to be submitted to the House of Commons’ enquiry into the impact of Brexit on the creative industries. If you want to attend you need to register here.

Manchester Moleskine, 20th October
6.00pm – 11.00pm, Old Granada Studios

Local designers Jon Massey and Adam Stanway have spent the last two years capturing Manchester’s creative landscape with their trusty A5 Moleskine notebook. Over 50 local creatives have contributed to the project, one of which being myself! You can check out my psychedelic entry here. This evening marks the close of DM16 and the travels of the book so the night is a real celebration not to be missed!

Of course, there are TONS more exciting events and exhibitions to attend throughout this year’s festival, indeed far too many for us to mention here, but if you want to see the full schedule simply visit the website at and have your diary at the ready.


Robert Lomas