How Manchester is putting design at centre of its future

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How Manchester is putting design at centre of its future
Image: Andrew Brooks

Speaking at the launch of the Design Manchester Conference on Friday, October 19, Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese announced an ambitious plan to work with the area’s design community to help deliver the council’s ten-year strategy and develop better public services.

Previous to the announcement, Design Manchester, which has run the conference and accompanying annual design festival in the city since 2013, was asked by the City Council to investigate how designers, design skills and design thinking could come up with better solutions for the city’s future challenges, particularly around health and education, transport and the built environment. “Design represents a significant opportunity for Manchester. We live in an age of transformative change,” Leese said. “Design can help us make sure those changes work for the benefit of our city and our communities.”

The resulting study, Creating A Manchester Design Manifesto, identifies areas that would benefit from the impact of design. It outlines how designers in architecture and transport, services and products, media and digital all have a contribution to make. “Design, like technology, plays a part in everything we do. We have an unprecedented opportunity to choose how we design the future of Manchester in areas like housing, healthcare, education and skills. We don’t want to design it by default,” says Lou Cordwell, CEO of magneticNorth and co-author of the report with Design Manchester’s Kasper de Graaf.

The next step will be the formation of an advisory board drawn from the Manchester design community. “We will then work together to build networks and partnerships to inform design solutions,” the report’s authors say. “The Design Manifesto for Manchester will be a call to action and a programme with defined deliverables. Where appropriate, it will be a business case for funding new projects and ideas. It will be delivered by a core team of designers and organisers at the heart of an open network that includes the design community, civic and industry stakeholders and the communities of Manchester. …. Designers of all kinds will work with service providers, stakeholders and communities to review current practice and existing plans, and to create outcomes that best serve those who need and use them.”

Those interested in getting involved can download the full Creating A Manchester Design Manifesto report here. In the October/November Place issue of Creative Review, Kasper de Graaf outlines how design has played a role in the transformation of Manchester and what the goals of the Design Manifesto are. You can buy the issue here

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