Belfast Design Week

Showing us that design crosses many industry boundaries I popped along to the science themed event in The Book Reserve on the Lisburn Road.  Three speakers took the floor, all with very different examples of cross-discipline collaboration.

Artist Kerrie Hanna demonstrated how she is incorporating 3D printing into her ceramics sculptures.  It was fascinating to hear of her work in FabLAB, an accessible work space facilitating design, printing elements of a 3D printer… using a 3D printer!  Her passion for work shown through as she passed round examples of her ceramic and composite pieces.


Scientist Dr A.P. De Silva was an absolute delight to listen to, his was a chemist’s story of molecules and how scientists can take ideas from creatives and develop them into something that can change lives.  Specifically he explained how molecules can be designed to emulate human behaviour and can be used to detect levels of certain elements in our bodies like oxygen and potassium.  Already molecules are designed not only to image process but to design themselves, Dr De Silva’s engaging talk left us thinking about the future of molecules and how their design will continue to impact on our lives.

The night of design diversity continued with Dr Una Lynch and Dr Verity Faith discussing dementia, design and dignity.  Una furnished us with some stats, 21% of Northern Ireland’s population is over 60 and it is expected that over 79,000 people will be over the age of 85 in 2033.  With life expectancy on the rise it’s a sobering thought to think dementia could be impacting more and more of us.  Verity took us through her architecture PhD thesis on wayfinding in care settings and how design in this instance needs to be user led.  As well as memory loss dementia involves sensory loss and effects communication and personality.  The design process of care facilities needs to consider how these factors influence the visual spacial interaction a person my have with their surroundings.  Verity’s research was a great insight in how to incorporate good design into functionality for specific needs.  Very thought-provoking.


Showing how design can impact on all of our lives this was an event that could also be appreciated by those from non-design backgrounds, myself included.  The Thinking Cup Café was the perfect venue with it’s upstairs book reserve and reading room.  The social enterprise employs young at risk parents and aims to re-integrate them into society by providing support for them and their children through a sustainable business.  A lovely place to pop in for a read of a good book over a cup of coffee.

Here’s hoping Belfast Design Week will be back in 2016.  Until then check out the Design Salon’s Another Belfast Map detailing great places to visit, eat and drink full of design to admire and purchase.