En­trepreneurs’ mis­sion to shine a light on town’s cre­ative com­mu­nity

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - IS­MAIL MULLA BUSI­NESS RE­PORTER Email: is­ Twit­ter: @Is­mailMulla

AN UN­DER­CUR­RENT of de­sign tal­ent is be­gin­ning to emerge in Hud­der­s­field, ac­cord­ing to or­gan­is­ers of an in­dus­try con­fer­ence in the West York­shire town.

The in­au­gu­ral De­sign Con­fer­ence hosted around 150 del­e­gates from the cre­ative sec­tor for a day of ac­tiv­i­ties at the quaint Bates Mill.

Dar­ren Evans, co-founder of Wil­son’s Repub­lic, the non-profit group which or­gan­ised the con­fer­ence, said: “There’s a lot of peo­ple do­ing a lot of good stuff in Hud­der­s­field. They’re very tal­ented but they don’t put their head above the para­pet. Wil­son’s was just about get­ting those peo­ple to­gether.

“It’s not a po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion but I be­lieve in the power of cre­ativ­ity and if we can shape this town in a par­tic­u­lar way then all the bet­ter.”

Mr Evans added: “There’s def­i­nitely an un­der­cur­rent of tal­ent that is emerg­ing. It just feels that there’s some­thing hap­pen­ing.

“We’re never going to be Leeds or Manchester but we don’t want to be Leeds or Manchester.”

His fel­low co-founder, Ai­dan Nolan, says the pur­pose of the first ever De­sign Con­fer­ence was to build a like-minded com­mu­nity.

He added: “The pur­pose is to help Hud­der­s­field cre­atives meet other like-minded peo­ple and hope­fully get a re­ally great scene going.

“What we need to get bet­ter at do­ing is just shout­ing about what it is that’s going on here.”

Mr Evans says de­sign is the “fastest grow­ing sec­tor in Kirklees”.

Mr Nolan said that this is down to a lot of grad­u­ates de­cid­ing to stay in the town after fin­ish­ing univer­sity rather than going to Lon­don.

“A lot of peo­ple are ac­tu­ally say­ing I’m going to stick in my home town,” Mr Nolan says, “and there’s plenty of good agen­cies do­ing good work up here.”

He added: “Tech­nol­ogy is help­ing. You don’t nec­es­sar­ily need to be in Lon­don. You can do Skype calls. The world has got smaller in a sense. It’s only a cou­ple of hours away on the train any­way.”

The duo said that while the in­au­gu­ral De­sign Con­fer­ence was a suc­cess they are un­likely to host one ev­ery year.

In­stead the two de­sign­ers aim to go back to putting on two smaller events next year, sim­i­lar to what they have hosted in the past. Mr Evans said: “The ini­tial thought is we might go for it ev­ery two years. We’ve still got day jobs. Some­times if you try and overdo it, it takes the spe­cial­ness out of it.

“We’re back to our nor­mal events next year so we’ll have two evening events. In 2019 we’ll be back maybe with an­other con­fer­ence.”

Mr Nolan also teaches at Hud­der­s­field Univer­sity along­side run­ning his own de­sign agency A.N.D Stu­dios and says that events such as the De­sign Con­fer­ence can help stu­dents gain a valu­able in­sight into the in­dus­try.

“I think it’s im­por­tant that stu­dents get some in­dus­try in­sight into what we’re do­ing so I teach first years on a Fri­day,” Mr Nolan said. “The value and im­por­tance of this sort of event can’t be un­der­played be­cause they get to meet po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees, fu­ture work­mates, peo­ple that they might set busi­nesses up with in the fu­ture.”

He urges would-be de­sign­ers of the fu­ture to treat it as a lifestyle rather than just a ca­reer. Mr Nolan said: “You’ve got to be hun­gry and you’ve got to want it. It’s not just a nine to five job. This is your life. I don’t mean that you’ve got to work ev­ery hour of the day. What I mean is you can’t switch it off.”

The event fea­tured a se­ries of sem­i­nars, work­shops and talks from in­dus­try ex­perts. James Som­merville, vice pres­i­dent of global de­sign for the Coca Cola Com­pany, spoke from his base in At­lanta via vide­olink at the con­fer­ence.

They’re very tal­ented but don’t put their head above the para­pet. Dar­ren Evans, co-founder of Wil­son’s Repub­lic

DE­SIGNS ON SUC­CESS: Ai­dan Nolan, left, and Dar­ren Evans, co-founders of Wil­son’s Repub­lic, said the pur­pose of the first De­sign Con­fer­ence was to build a like-minded com­mu­nity.

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