Dezeen Magazine

"London needs more days like Dezeen Day" say speakers and attendees

Speakers and attendees have been giving their feedback on the inaugural Dezeen Day conference in London last week, with BBC radio presenter LionHeart describing it as "the best design conference I've been to".

The sold-out conference took place on 30 October at BFI Southbank in central London. Panelists and speakers praised Dezeen for the quality of the agenda-setting event.

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MoMA curator Paola Antonelli opened Dezeen Day with a keynote speech

"It was a great conference, a perfect first time," said MoMA curator Paola Antonelli, who opened the day with a keynote speech.

"London needs more days like Dezeen Day!" said industrial designer Benjamin Hubert, who spoke on the panel about entrepreneurialism.

"It was an honour to present our thoughts to a super-engaged audience on a day that offered a forum to discuss and share ideas that can meaningfully improve people's lives and the world around us through the power of creativity."

BBC Radio London presenter and architecture aficionado LionHeart said: "I have to say that was the best design conference I've been to." LionHeart's interviews with Dezeen Day speakers were broadcast on his show last Friday evening.

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A sellout audience of more than 450 people attended the conference

Alongside Antonelli, keynote speeches were given by speculative architect Liam Young and artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg.

Each of the keynote speakers was awarded a Changemaker award by Dezeen's editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs, to celebrate their positive impact in design and architecture.

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Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg was presented with a Changemaker award

Dezeen's Changemaker awards are a special addition to the Dezeen Awards programme, with recipients given a hand-make trophy designed by Atelier NL.

Andrew Morlet, CEO of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, was also presented with an award on behalf of the circular-design advocacy organisation's founder Ellen MacArthur.

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Educators Neil Pinder, Stacie Woolsie, Harriet Harriss and Patrik Schumacher discussed the future of  education

The panels led to intriguing discussions and heated debates. On his panel about the circular economy, Morlet clashed with Dutch designer Richard Hutten over the potential for plastic to be recycled and reused.

The circular economy was of one of the key topics discussed during the conference.

"Dezeen Day connected people within the design industry at large around topics that we can no longer ignore or apply indirectly: circular design, life-cycle of materials, ethical entrepreneurship," said Arthur Mamou-Mani, who spoke on a panel about post-plastic materials.

"We challenged each other to look at these issues through many different angles but not superficially as we all understand the complexity of the climate crisis and that it requires boundless curiosity and a holistic approach to design," he continued.

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Liam Young delivered a keynote speech and was presented with a Changemaker award

On the education panel, Zaha Hadid Architects' principal Patrik Schumacher argued with Pratt Institute of Architecture dean Harriet Harriss over architecture's culture of working long hours.

"The first Dezeen Day was a success," said Schumacher. "Great themes, well moderated, cool contributors, stimulating conversations. Tip for next time: even more architecture and design, a bit less art and politics."

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Ellen MacArthur Foundation CEO Andrew Morlet spoke about the circular economy

"I'm really impressed by the inaugural Dezeen Day event," added Dara Huang, who spoke on a panel about entrepreneurship.

"It's important to host think-tank discussions about what is happening with the design world – I liked that it included fashion, art, technology, transportation, industrial and agricultural," she added.

I also found the unique pairing of the panellists ignited interesting chemistries either completely opposing or completely in unison, both equally entertaining!"

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A selfie robot made an appearance taking pictures of delegates over the course of the day

The event, which was sponsored by Grohe, provided an opportunity for architects and designers to meet and consider the topics being discussed throughout the day.

"Dezeen Day was a great opportunity to connect and inspire people towards a more sustainable world," said Hutten. "On top of that it really was fun!"

Dezeen worked hard to minimise the environmental impact of the conference by limiting the use of single-use plastics, having meat-free catering and serving tap water instead of bottled water.

During the day sustainability expert Sophie Thomas was calculating the event's impact, and she presented her initial findings at the end of the day. Her full environmental audit will be published on Dezeen soon.

Following the conference, the Dezeen Awards winners were announced at a party at Ennismore Sessions House in LondonThe six studio category winners and three overall project winners of this year's Dezeen Awards were announced at the event.

Photography is by Mark Cocksedge.