Blog: Made North…that’s a FACT!


Posted by: Creative Times

on February 24, 2012 10:41

The first Made North design conference took place in Liverpool earlier this week. Susannah Howard, Business Development Executive at brand communications agency Uniform, reports on how it went.

Tuesday 21st February brought the eagerly anticipated Made North conference to the heart of the North (Liverpool, of course!), in what promised to be an informative and interactive day of debate.

Hosted at FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology), it was clear that art, design and technology would be hot topics on the agenda – the main topic being how the North could find its niche in these fast-evolving industries.

There was an unprecedented buzz as hundreds of designers, including half of my colleagues at Uniform, descended on FACT to share their thoughts, experiences and ideas, exploring the interaction between these three disciplines.

What struck a chord for me was the topic of light. I hadn’t really considered just how versatile a tool this fantastic natural resource is.

Kicking off the sessions, Jonny Douglas introduced the key speakers, and in keeping with the theme of the day (Made North), a handful of famous designers from the North were on hand to share their experiences.

At times I wondered if the North was really at the heart of the focus for the day, as a fair few southern agencies were also in the mix. But it was great to welcome these industry professionals to share their experiences and ideas, especially as the need for ‘collaboration’ was referred to on a number of occasions. Topics explored included technology, forward thinking and manufacturing, with the real value lying in hearing the experiences of these already established designers.

What struck a chord for me was the topic of light. I hadn’t really considered just how versatile a tool this fantastic natural resource is and how it can be used to evoke a certain sense of the environment and emotions.

Art and Design practice United Visual Artists use light as a convergence of environment, object and performance – central to exploring the viewer experience. They even experienced climate change first-hand in the Arctic, as the video below shows.

High Arctic from United Visual Artists on Vimeo.

Troika design also highlighted some exceptionally beautiful work surrounding the theme of light and linking it to technology in ways that exhumed innovation. Even the names of the projects – Falling Light and Cloud (see both below)– reflect the elements of beauty involved in achieving the fluidity of the digital and kinetic elements featured in much of their work. Truly awe inspiring!

‘Falling Light’, Troika, 2010 from Troika on Vimeo.

‘Cloud’ by Troika, 2008 from Troika on Vimeo.

Communication was a great focus of the conference, and what really interested me was the way other design agencies communicated their work. Films demonstrated the work processes from initial design to prototype to completion. I found this a really effective way of communicating the design language to the business world, and film is certainly a key part of our work at Uniform – both to communicate our work and generate new business.

Which leads nicely to the next topic: business and design operate as separate silos – discuss! Film, for me, was the perfect example of how the two can be brought together. Presentations, round table debates and live Twitter feeds all sparked discussion. In its first year, Made North showed it has value. Bring on next year – Uniform will be there!

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