Volunteering at Birmingham Design Festival

A number of School of Visual Communication students had the exciting opportunity to volunteer at Birmingham Design Festival (BDF), a celebration of the local, national and international design industry that took place over three days in June.  

Birmingham Design Festival is a celebration of the local, national and international design industry and took place over three days in June.

Spanning over 20 different venues across Birmingham including Birmingham City University’s City Centre Campus and STEAMhouse, BDF included a huge range of hands-on workshops, talks and tutorials, with many of them free to attend. The event included speakers from across the creative industries and companies such as Google, Adobe, Channel 4, Aardman Animations and Dropbox.

Birmingham Design Festival 2019- Awesome MerchStudents' responsibilities included everything from helping to run workshops with prolific Graphic Designer Patrick Thomas, to guiding visitors and organising goody-bags. Third-year student Emma Owens told us more about her experience...

Birmingham Design Festival 2019 volunteersWhat did your volunteering role at BDF involve?

My role for volunteering was making sure attendees to the Festival were in the right place and guiding them to the right areas for their booked events. I gave out as much information as I could about the goings on of the festival and any other additional information that they needed. 

Birmingham Design Festival 2019 crowdDid you attend any of the talks or workshops?

I volunteered Thursday and Friday and saw as many talks as I could where I was located. On the Saturday I saw Paul Woods from Edenspiekermann talking about ‘assholes, egomania and great work’. I really enjoyed the talk; he was really informative about the types of clients that you can get within industry that you don’t necessarily want to work with, which was a great insight into what I should be aware of in the future if/when I become part of the design field. He spoke really well and was very funny, I definitely enjoyed it. 

After his talk, I attended a workshop with Foilco. It was a great creative break where I could make stuff and learn about the process. They had a wide range of coloured foils to choose from so it was fun to mess around and find what you like. They had G.F Smith paper as well so everything was great quality. The staff were really helpful and friendly too. 

FoilCo workshop Birmingham Design FestivalI also went to the final event of the Festival and heard from Jennifer Daniel who spoke about the creation and connotations with language and Emojis. She was really funny and it was interesting how different lead brands such as Apple differ with their designs of emojis and how it can communicate language in a different way to Google, for example. 

She was followed by Richard Small at Sony and Laura Pol at Olio. I really liked the way Laura spoke about her problem solving and it gave me good advice for how I should tackle similar issues in the future. 

Birmingham Design Festival- Richard SmallsThe talk concluded with Andre Jay Meissner at Adobe XD. He spoke really well and was very detailed about his experiences with design. I enjoyed the short videos he showed about the influences of design on society. A good ending to the festival!

What was your highlight of Birmingham Design Festival?

For me I really enjoyed meeting new people that I probably wouldn’t get the chance to talk to without sharing the volunteering experience together. It was really well organised, and the team are so lovely and just made everything enjoyable. I hope I get the chance to go next year. 

Image credits from top to bottom: Martin O'Callaghan (first three images), Thom Bartley, Fraser McGee (last two images). All images courtesy of Birmingham Design Festival.