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RY at the Birmingham Design Festival

A celebration of the local, national and international design industry.

07 June 2023

Photograph of an audience in purple light, attending Birmingham Design Festival

Image: Angela Grabowska


From 8th-9th June, Birmingham welcomed creatives from across the globe to celebrate Birmingham Design Festival, held for the fifth year running. The festival hosts a variety of speakers and spans a range of subjects, primarily design, illustration and creative processes. This year, the festival held a conference day, as well as a variety of workshops and events across three days, all around this year’s theme ‘imagine’.  


The Birmingham office’s design team was lucky enough to attend the sold-out conference day, enjoying talks from creative royalty such as Brian Collins, Oliver Jeffers, Gemma O’Brien, Marta Cerdá Alimbau and more. We learned of the speakers’ digital and analogue processes, how they developed their own typefaces, how they’ve embraced modernity with AI and coding, and where they intend to go.

The stage at Birmingham Design Festival, showing a large screen that reads 'Imagine' in a cloud shape
Sue Graham, Creative Director

“Sonal Jhuj from The Lego Group encouraged us in her talk to continue to ‘play’ in life at whatever age we are. We should bring this thinking into our creative work and continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible. Everyday should be a play day.”

Matthew Wyatt, Senior Designer

“It’s always good to hear first-hand about other designers thought processes, how they develop their ideas and get to their final form. Marta Cerdá’s passion for her craft really came across. Her work is so unique and inspiring. There’s no set style and that is something I admire.”

Members of the RY team in the audience of the Birmingham Design Festival, smiling and holding a programme that reads 'Imagine'
Ben Marples, Senior Designer

“I found puppetry designer Toby Olié’s approach to his craft incredibly inspiring. It was great to see how someone from a completely different discipline works to realise their creative vision through experimentation and iteration.”

Annie Counsell, Junior Designer

“The design conference was nothing short of amazing. I particularly enjoyed when Gemma O’Brien flicked through her sketchbook live on screen. It reminded me that every designer starts at the same point in the creative process and that it is essential it is to experiment and explore.”

The stage at Birmingham Design Festival with the screen reading 'Here I Am' above an arrow that points to the speaker

The conference was captivating, vastly inspiring and insightful. Learning from other creatives was an invaluable experience for the team and a motivator to stay ahead of the curve. Finally, it was a joy to be in and around the fellow Brummie creative community and to be part of BDF’s first conference. See you in ‘24!