York Design Week kicks off making the northern city the 'home of activism by design'

The second annual York Design Week has got underway, and the collective of creatives behind the popular event is hoping to spark a "city of activists" this year, to make a positive difference through creativity.

Organisers behind York Design Week

Organisers behind York Design Week

But it's not the type of activism you may be thinking of. "We are a part of a landscape of creativity where we work to support, facilitate and encourage good change across sectors through our design work," explains Rebecca Carr, one of the co-founders and owner of Kaizen Arts Agency. "For us, it is about looking at something with a critical eye and finding ways to make stuff better. We are a group of activists, of diverse creative minds, driven by a collective vision of a more environmentally and socially just future for our city.

"We believe that to enable good change; we need to create a population of activists, people who make space to do what they love, for the right reasons. We want to see York's citizens take control of their local environment and communities to help shape the city they want to live in. York Design Week is one of those opportunities for people to start making their mark."

Five themes are running across the week – Re-Wild, Play, Share, Make Space and Trust – with a programme that has something to offer everyone – all with York's future in mind. As Owen Turner, one of the co-founders and MD of United by Design puts it: "As a group, we are committed to doing our part to realise the vision of York receiving Zero Carbon City status by 2030, and to do this we need to design a city fit for the future."

One such event is A Place for Me, a unique experiment that brings homeless people together with architects and designers to co-produce a blueprint for "transition accommodation" within the city.

There's How to Be More Pirate, presented by Sam Conniff, acclaimed author of Be More Pirate, and Alex Barker, co-author of How to be More Pirate. The immersive experience shows how innovation is driven by ordinary people. Challenging the cliched image of peg legs and parrots, the duo will explore what we can learn from the golden age of piracy in an age where rule-breaking is now the most socially responsible thing to do. Join the mutiny!

Your Shoes – City Trail invites you to explore York from the perspectives of different York citizens. How is it to go shopping as a mother? How does someone with a disability experience the city? How does a refugee experience York differently compared to someone who has lived here their entire lives? "Through asking different demographics of York what makes the city more or less accessible by design, you begin to see your known environment from a different perspective, and hopefully create a more inclusive space for living," reads the event's description.

"We will be holding a mixture of in-person events, with social distancing measures in place, and a jam-packed online programme of workshops, seminars and talks," says Rich Corrigan, from Dogeatcog Agency and a co-founder of the week-long event, "with a series of fun, themed hubs across the city that will be accessible throughout the week. We've worked hard to ensure all our events are as inclusive and immersive as possible, as York Design Week is an opportunity for people of York to really make their mark, actively shaping the city into a place we want to spend our time."

Rich adds: "As a collective, we believe in hands-on, participatory co-creation and cultural democracy, and we are committed to being at the vanguard to show how culture can impact lives for the better. Our aim to inspire and activate talent and creativity in everyone and not allow 'culture' to be seen through a narrow, hierarchical prism. Design is a powerful tool for good change, and we want to see the people of York thrive."

Full information on social distancing measures, and which events will be accessible online, as well as the full programme can be found at www.yorkdesignweek.com.


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