On Monday we shut the doors of West Ward Works once more, closing another hugely successful Dundee Design Festival.
Over the six days, we welcomed thousands of people through the doors of the building that was once the print works for DC Thomson, producing millions of copies of Bunty, Beano and Oor Wullie annuals.
The aim of the festival was to acknowledge the heritage of Dundee – the factories and places where people produced work. At the same time, we also wanted to look forward and examine the factory of the future – how will people work together, to create and produce. What about the digital world? We wanted to show how objects are made and what happens when that process goes wrong.
We wanted to prove that Dundee’s design story is authentic and rooted in its sense of place. We’re a festival that genuinely reflects Dundee’s design story and that the team that runs UNESCO City of Design, Dundee,
Many Design festivals across the world focus on products and being commercial. We decided that we wanted to produce a festival that we strategically decided that we wanted people to come, explore and understand how design works.
Our forty festival volunteers – donning smocks – have welcomed visitors from Glasgow, Aberdeen and of course from across the city of Dundee. Guest designers travelled from Germany, Spain, France and America to be part of our story. One of our brilliant volunteers took a week off his job to come and work at the festival every day, because he wanted to be part of the energy.
The crossover of the different representatives of the communities and countries have given the festival its energy.
We welcomed workers who had worked on the original West Ward building back in 1959, through to community choirs and young design talent from across Scotland.
The main exhibition – which you were guided round by a print out from an old fashioned dot matrix printer – helped visitors get beyond what you see in the shops – how objects are made and created. The range and the beauty of the objects gave me hope that its not all going to be about automation in the future and there will be a place for beautifully crafted objects. There was also a look at how healthcare may develop in the future with a 3D printed mask for radiotherapy patients.
For me the best moments were seeing children from all over the city making and doing. Nearly all of them took away an item – a print, a vase, a pot – that they had stood and crafted in the festival. The excitement of making something beautiful and useful was obvious in the hours that children spent imagining and creating. A series of really special moments for everyone who created the festival.
We produced events in the evening, such as the Singer Machine Choir – the brainchild of festival producer Sion Parkinson and Andy Truscott. Singers from community choirs, members of the public and designers all came together to be a part of the event that included recreating the sounds of the factory, alongside the songs of Sheena Wellington. Led by Alice Marra, the resulting song was moving and fun!
The festival was supported by NCR who brought in a cash machine which was then disaasbled and reassembled in front of a fascinated crowd – a real Dundee factory brought to the masses.
The festival was produced by UNESCO City of Design team, but it included partners from across the city including DC Thomson, Creative Dundee, Dundee Rep and Dundee Contemporary Arts. We’re proud of the way the whole city has come together behind our City of Design designation and want to use it to improve lives in Dundee.