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Plans revealed for Huddersfield’s first design conference

Details have been announced this month for a brand new design conference, the first of its kind to be held in Huddersfield. And the event will take place in the very building where we’re based – Bates Mill – on Thursday 5 October.

The Design Conference is the conception of Wilson’s Republic, a well-known not-for-profit design network in the town set up by Huddersfield-based designers Aidan Nolan and our own director Darren Evans. It aims to bring creative practitioners, students and enthusiasts together to tell their stories, share their experiences, collaborate, question, learn and create.

Among the speakers to have already been announced, is Huddersfield-born John Lee, a celebrated prop and model maker who has spent 34 years in the film industry. Having begun his career working on The Wind in the Willows, he has gone on to be involved in blockbusters including Aliens, Casino Royale and the soon-to-be-released Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He is also a frequent lecturer at The National Film and Television School.

He will be joined by Tom Foley, Creative Director of international typography specialist Dalton Maag, who has recently hit the headlines for designing the new BBC Sport ‘Leith’ font. As well as taking to the stage, Tom will also be leading two 2 hour logo refinement workshop throughout the day.

There are in fact a number of different workshops on the conference programme, covering topics ranging from intellectual property, accounting for creatives, design career plotting, and the business of design, as well as a full-day portfolio review to offer professional guidance on live projects.

The conference is not Wilson’s Republic’s first venture on to the events scene. Founded in 2015, the brand exists to provide a voice for Huddersfield’s design community. And, having run five sell-out social events to date the conference was the next logical step.

“From textile design to precision engineering, Huddersfield has a rich history of world class invention and creativity running through it. The conference aims to celebrate these roots by looking to the future,” explains Darren.

“By bringing iconic and inspiring speakers together in a relaxed, collaborative environment, we’re hoping to help further stimulate the profile of design across the town. There’s never been anything like it here.”

With an undeniably high density of design talent in Huddersfield, across varied creative disciplines including product, graphic, digital, web, photography, illustration, art and architecture, this creative industry has been named the fastest growing in the Kirklees district.

“We’re witnessing something of a movement in the town,” adds Aidan. “We’ve always had a prolific talent hub here, as our line-up of Huddersfield born and raised speakers shows. But Huddersfield’s creative heart is growing bigger and bigger every year, so it was time for our events to reflect this.

“Wilson’s Republic has ‘gone large’ – I hope this conference will play a significant part in driving the town’s creative agenda forward!”

Confirmed event partners include Kirklees Council, Bates Mill and stamping foil and decorative film specialist Foilco – who will be inviting delegates to create their own foil card throughout the day. The conference will also be preceded by the latest gathering of Design Network North – a membership organisation which aims to increase the contribution that design makes to the economy. But the hunt is still on for other sponsors to get involved, with interested parties encouraged to make contact via the website.

The event costs £35 to attend, with discounted entry for students (£25) and groups of 5 or more (£30). Tickets can be purchased at www.wrconf.com and updates can be found on Twitter via @wilsonsrepublic and #WRConf.