I went to the Manchester Design Symposium on Wednesday at the beautiful Manchester Town Hall. The symposium explored the relationship with design, the economy, and the question of whether the UK’s place at the top table of world design is under threat as emerging economies invest more in their ‘knowledge economy’ and whether design and innovation has the potential to power the UK out of a recession.
There were some incredibly inspirational speakers at this year's design symposium including 28 year old Will Hudson, the founder of It’s Nice That and the brilliant Adrian Shaughnessy, author of How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul. The person who inspired me the most was Morag Myerscough, she has been a designer for the past 20 years but only in the last 10 years she has been doing exactly what she believes in.
Her main passion seems to be boosting community spirit and making people feel good within a space. This signage in the image above was for a youth-led venue called Platform in her local community a few streets from where she was raised. The quote was written by children who go to the community centre. Her designs are quite eccentric and off the wall but well executed and considered within a space. She does a lot of work for schools, such as bold signage and uplifting wall designs for children's hospitals.
Westminster Academy school
Dagenham School world map
Hand-stencilled stools for the new Royal London Children's hospital
She doesn’t care about making profit, she makes the most of the budget she gets for projects especially with her passion for making things. Whenever she has a hands on project she aims to do all of the work herself, whether it's painting stool tops or constructing huge structures out of blocks of wood. One of her most exciting projects was to convert a train into a cafe, the Deptford project which brought life into a community which needed a creative output.
Her main message was to stay true to who you are, however I believe that she must have been doing work she didn’t want to be doing to get her career started. She mentioned that she never wants to design a logo ever again, which gives me the impression that she used to do quite commercial work.
I think it's very hard for a designer to do exactly what they believe in but as long as you are aware of your ethical responsibility and your own morals and be proactive in trying to change something you don’t believe in, it will pay off in the long run. Morag’s talk has inspired me to make more hand crafted work and to work in collaborations, which considering I live with 4 other graphic designers, it’s pretty ridiculous that none of us have ever collaborated before!
If you want to see more of Morag's work check out studiomyerscough.com