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Richard Corrigan - Power to the People


It’s a really exciting time to be in York. There are so many wonderful creative people doing exciting work. I’m pleased and proud to be working with Rebecca and Owen, and the wider team, on the first ever York Design Week, to help shine a light on the quantity and quality of the creative sector in the city. There is power in numbers and if we all share, attend and collaborate with each other as much as possible, then the benefits for our community are immeasurable.

In particular I have enjoyed seeing how many grassroots events and activities there are in our city. I don’t know if I’ve become more aware of it from being involved in the creative and music scene in York over the past five years or so, or whether there is actually an upswell within this community. I like to think it’s the latter, and I like to think that it stems from the challenging political atmosphere. It seems (at least to me) that we are carrying on the great tradition, both in York and the UK as a whole, of taking creative enterprise and education into our own hands in times of political strife.

I set up Drawsome this year to try to bring artists together around an exhibition, live music and workshop event. Collaborating with illustrators, musicians and educators from the local area and beyond, to help build relationships within this community and raise money and awareness for Bowel Cancer UK. When Rebecca and Owen invited me to join them in creating York Design Week, I was so happy to hear that so many of the values that went into Drawsome were also key priorities for this event. What made me even happier was realising that this is being created by so many people that it is by far the biggest collaboration I’ve ever been involved in.

There will be so many firsts for York, and me too, over the next few weeks. I teamed up with Steve Clarkson of Found Fiction, and a team of expert makers and builders (hats off to BlokCNC and Carma at Playground) to create Generate; an interactive sculpture, inviting people to choose a coloured ribbon based on their age and thread it through holes in a series of arches in answer to questions about sustainability in travel. Generate [playful data] will launch at the Railway Museum as part of York Design Week.

Together with Snowhome, we’ve invited the people of York to collect an acorn along with instructions on how to gestate them. We’ll be giving out 246 acorns, doubling John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s effort 50 years ago, in the hope that some (if not all!) will grow into magnificent oak trees.

Another highlight for me will be to see some of the exciting VR experiences that DC Labs have been working on, not to mention hearing the thoughts and opinions of Simon Dixon (of DixonBaxi) Robert Walker (of Signs by Umberto), both of whom I have admired for many years.

I hope you are as excited as I am to see the array of events next week, and I look forward to continuing this collaboration long in to the future. See you there!

RC and RC.jpg

Rebecca Carr - This means a lot. 


I’m Rebecca, I founded York Design Week with help from Owen Turner and Richard Corrigan this year with the aim of bringing a somewhat disparate cultural scene in York together, through a week of creative events with a clearly defined social and/or environmental purpose.

Since deciding (in March over a pint with Owen) to ‘just do it’, I have met so many new, incredibly talented and ambitious people in the city, and been privileged to collaborate with old friends on a number of projects. I am really happy we’re able to present this festival as a new, inclusive and accessible addition to York’s events calendar, and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible over the week (we’re all going have badges thanks to Rich so you can spot us, come and say hi)

I set up Kaizen Arts Agency as a CIC this year to create a vehicle for all the ideas that kept popping up through conversations with friends, colleagues and new people I kept meeting. York Design Week is one of the projects I am excited to be driving, but to give you an idea of the other things I’m working on, have a gander at the rest of this website. YDW (as all my projects are) is all about collaboration, people, environmental action and cultural democracy. 

The whole point of my agency is to help facilitate projects, and drive positive change in a world where loneliness and isolation, economic break down, political turmoil and climate crisis have become the everyday. I say, how about questioning this, how about we ask ourselves ‘what if?’ A bit more, and design our way out of these crisis’? I believe that as a group of conscious and creative people (that’s all of us), we can put in place new systems, created by us and for us, that take the power of the people and turn it into positive, and meaningful change. Greta says it so simply: ‘no-one is too small to make a difference’.

This is just the start, we’ve set York Design Week up with a budget of zero, and a lot of determination to do something different. Its a platform for people who want to make a positive social or environmental change to step up and do, and were more than excited to see where it goes. Please get in touch with us if you want to get involved in any of our projects. 

Here are my 5 top picks from the festival:

An Exhibition of Play and Social Design ALL WEEK Spark, Platform Community Theatre

Creating the circular in creativity Thursday 24th October The Moxy

Biomimicry and the Baked Potato Party Sunday 27th October Spark

Whats the problem and who’s problem is it? Wednesday 30th October York St John

Grow! [your own oak tree] ALL WEEK Snowhome/Spark


Phil Bixby – My York Design Week


I’m an architect. I’ve been an architect all my working life. I do architecty things – mainly involving design (I’m even a 3D Architect and yes I’m #doingitwithitonacomputer). What I only realised relatively recently – partly from one or two inspired clients and partly through all sorts of rich discussion with the wonderful Helen Graham – was that much of the really useful heavy lifting in design goes on before the design stage; there is magic in a good brief.

All sorts of fascinating work tumbled out of that realisation – the evolution of the My Future York basic ideas into a broad, flexible framework of methodology which enabled us to approach big, complex opportunities for change and engage with the public – creating My Castle Gateway and My York Central. Both projects led to public visions for major developments. Castle Gateway is moving forward with the council driving the early stages of change in a newly-forged partnership with other major stakeholders. York Central has (almost) a masterplan-inspired outline planning consent which reflects or interprets at least some of the elements of that public vision. These are places where, for once, grown-up conversation has seen complex issues through a process where challenges have been considered and – in some form – they have shaped proposals for change.

But what does it take to drive things beyond that, to ensure that Big Ideas really turn into Big, Built Things? Helen and I are involved in three events within York Design Week. In the first, we’re taking a number of the key ideas from the vision for York Central – ones which come together to form a compelling narrative about a different place to live, work, grow. How do we create mixed-use neighbourhoods built upon co-ownership, where capital, time, learning and hopes are shaped as a different kind of place – “a community made through exchange”? We’ll bring together people who want to live, work, invest and play within a neighbourhood that they have made, and we’ll look at how partnering with developers can support, rather than crush, these bold ideas and indeed spread change throughout York Central and beyond.

As I said though, I’m an architect. I’m aware that everything we build sits within a planning context – cities (at least in Britain) don’t just happen. We plan – sometimes with disastrous results and often with an underpinning tension between the planned and the organic. David Rudlin has written much on this (and also has a close relationship with York – his Wolfson-Prize winning proposals for doubling the size of a fictitious Uxcester was all built around a thinly-disguised York) and he’s a man who successfully mixes an ability to work with ideas and issues with an ability to get his hands dirty with specific projects and problems. His new book Climax City looks at the growth of cities and what that means for masterplanning, and we’re highly chuffed to be bringing him to York to launch this book and to stir further thinking about where we should be looking for routes towards a future York.

Us architects have a bad reputation – rightly – for creating a fog of professional jargon around our work, and for extracting hopes and fears from the humbled masses before delivering solutions from on high. It shouldn’t be like that, and it’s more fun for all when it’s not. How can we move towards cultural democracy? Everyone sees worth in the world around them and can imagine change which makes it better for them – how can we set up conversations which allow participation by all? How can we strip away structures to allow sharing of ideas and creativity? Perhaps all we need is a room full of people, plus a long table, chairs, and ways of noting our thoughts and conversations. Where we can ask – what is the problem and whose problem is it?

See you at York Design Week.

Phil Bixby / My Future York