University hosts Midlands Design Summit

11 November 2022

Education experts, artists, businesses and organisations from across the Midlands came together to champion ways to support the needs of local communities at an event hosted by the University of Derby.

The Midlands Design Summit took place at the University’s Enterprise Centre, chaired by the CivicLAB Research Cluster, and invited attendees to explore how design can be used to inspire people to think differently and change people and places for the better.

Through a series of showcases and panel discussions, the group shared learnings and insights into design thinking, education and practice, as well as economic and socio-civic impacts and benefits within society. The aim was to create a network of design innovators from across the Midlands who will be bid active, share best practice and actively contribute to the future of the Design Economy.

The event forms part of a wider Midlands Design partnership that is being developed, which the University of Derby is spearheading with Midlands-based universities, local authorities, councils, charities and trusts, local businesses and freelancers.

Dr Rhiannon Jones, Associate Professor (Civic) at the University of Derby, who led the event, said:

“We are delighted to have hosted the Midlands Design Summit at the University of Derby, which provided a fantastic opportunity to showcase our regional design capabilities and assets.

“The Midlands is a maker economy, with design being an integral part that can be used to tackle and challenge a broad range of societal issues.

“Supporting local and regional business and educational and cultural opportunities, led by research and innovation, will ensure we continue to serve the needs of our region, people and place. We hope to grow as a community, to network, to develop new projects, funding bids and research outputs.”

The University’s participation in the Midlands Design partnership demonstrates its commitment not only to the Midlands region, but also its core mission as an applied and Civic University for Derby and Derbyshire.

Staff from Nottingham Trent, De Montfort, Lincoln and Wolverhampton universities attended the event, along with representatives from organisations including Derby City Council, Inspirate, Derby Museums, Down to Earth Derby, Haley Sharpe Design Limited, ArtCore, Culture Derby, as well as University of Derby staff and Derby BA Design students who also presented their research projects.

As part of the workshop series, Adela Glyn-Davies, Lecturer in Design at the University of Derby, showcased an overview of design research and practice with students from across the design disciplines, framed around Local Sustainability, Social Design, and Design for Belonging.

Professor Chris Bussell, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, presented Derby's Urban Sustainable Transition (DUST) research project, which aims to envisage a sustainable, resilient, and attractive future for the city of Derby.

Dr Cath Feely, Senior Lecturer in History, and Dr Jo Ray, Senior Lecturer in Design, showcased how their cross-disciplinary pedagogic collaboration is shaping a new co-produced project with Derby’s Museum of Making.

The welcome address was provided by Professor Kathryn Mitchell CBE DL, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby.

She said: “At Derby we recently launched our Civic University Agreement, which sets out how we are going to work with other organisations to support the growth, vibrancy and long-term prosperity of Derby and Derbyshire, as well as the wider region.

“Events and partnership working, such as that of the Midlands Design Summit, are important in helping to channel aspirations, support local communities and share knowledge and best practice.”

The event at Derby follows a successful launch of the Midlands Design Summit at the Space Park in Leicester hosted by De Montfort University, and a follow-up event at Birmingham City University.

Rachel Granger, Professor of Urban Economies at De Montfort University, Leicester, added:

“It has been clear to us for a while that the Midlands is a real powerhouse for creativity and design so it has been a pleasure creating a platform to show the rest of the country, and the world, just what we have in the region.”

The next Midlands Design Summit is due to be held at the University of Lincoln in spring 2023.

Attendees at the Midlands Design Summit hosted by the University of Derby.
Attendees at the Midlands Design Summit hosted at the University of Derby's Enterprise Centre.

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