Belfast Design Week is an annual design festival celebrating local and international design in venues across the city. In its fifth year, the festival had a range of over 80 events, covering design sectors including: User Experience, Graphic Design, Illustration, Architecture, Interior Design, Digital Design, Product Design, Game Design & Maker Culture. South West College students Megan and Callum attended the festival and now share their experience of two of their favourite events with Way out West.

'Your Companies Story'

Megan: The first talk we went to was ‘Your Companies story’, held in the Blackbox, a local community art house. The speaker was Dani Mc Ferrand, who owns a company called Done and Dusted. She introduced herself and her business, then spoke about how to successfully communicate with a client you're designing for and how to get to know them as well as their business. She explained how important it is to talk to them about why they started their company and what their overall message is.

Dani recommends that you meet with the client several times and regularly give feedback on what you know about them, so that if you're not on the same page as them, they can explain what they want in further detail. She recommends this be done in a relaxing environment such as a coffee shop.

Dani went on to say that once you really know your client you can start building layers about them. The top row should be their mission and why they started their business; the middle row should break that down even further, by showing how they are going to achieve their goals.

She showed examples, including a woman who came to her looking for branding for her food business. They had a sit done where she began to tell Dani where she learnt to cook. It turned out all her food came from family recipes and every year she returned to Italy to learn how to cook them. Dani was able to build her a logo and a brand based around this, focusing on the idea of family recipes that could be passed down through generations.


I really enjoyed Dani’s presentation. The whole talk was all about how everyone has a story, and how their story is what we as designer's need to uncover, in order to successfully create something for them.

She explained how she will take time to simply meet her clients in a relaxed environment. This process is not generally expected of a designer, but it can create a great relationship with a client. Gathering a story will allow for a company to be able to create their brand identity which is what Dani's goal is for all her clients - to be able to create an individualistic appearance.

She discussed how two of the most important elements of any brand identity is their integrity and also their honesty. I understand the reason behind these two being the most important due to their influence on consumers. Looking at any well-established brand or company, they are often where they are because of their integrity towards their products and their consumers.

'Design in the Holy Lands'


The second event we attended was a workshop based in the Holy Lands. The Holy Lands are an estate where students live while attending university in Belfast, and the workshop was based around this concept.

The workshop began with the staff leaders, most of whom were from QUB, explaining their roles within the workshop. One of the staff members was a disciplinary officer who works with the university and the PSNI, as a well as the local community, to keep local people safe. He explained that if student resident in the Holy Lands gets a phone call about breaking conduct rules they have to pay a £150 fine to the university.

We had a brainstorm based around this and tried to come up with ideas for better ways to combat behaviour issues. They gave us a question: 'How can the future generation of students become involved with the holy lands?’ We came up with the idea that if a student does something for the local community within the holy lands they should get a reward, such as extra marks or extra time to finish an assignment. We then went to the next step which was to develop an idea on how this could be done. After another group brainstorming session we decided there should be a system whereby a record is kept of students doing something good for the community, with different points being awarded depending on the level of what they have done. Once they have been on the program for a year, the students get a certificate which they can add to their CV or show to future employers.

After presenting this idea we got feedback from the members of staff involved with the event. They said that they really were interested in this idea and even suggested they might implement it throughout the university and the Holy Lands.


After we finished our discussion of our final idea we then concluded the event with a tour of the workshop venue itself. The workshop contained so much history with older machines as well as old materials, all of which are recycled, often from buildings. The owner Martin explained that he actually knew where every piece had actually come from. He said that every recycled material has a story.

The tour was very interesting. Martin talked about some items in particular, explaining where he gathered them from, including some really old canteen chairs from Harland and Wolf, as well as another from the old linen mills.

It was very interesting to see the collection of all the recycled materials which he had gathered over the years. I particular liked the plastic which he created out of recycled shampoo bottles which he presented to us at the introduction of the whole event. Plastic is a huge issue today, so it was great to see how it can be re-used, rather than being thrown away and damaging the earth.