Plans revealed for Huddersfield’s first design conference

Details have been announced for a brand new design conference said to be the first of its kind held in Huddersfield.

The event – which will take place at Bates Mill on Thursday 5 October – is the conception of Wilson’s Republic, a not-for-profit design network set up by Huddersfield-based designers Darren Evans and Aidan Nolan, with  the aim of bringing creative practitioners, students and enthusiasts together to share their experiences, collaborate and learn.

Among the speakers to have already been announced is Huddersfield-born John Lee, a celebrated prop and model maker who has spent 34 years in the film industry. Having begun his career working on The Wind in the Willows, he has gone on to be involved in blockbusters including Aliens, Casino Royale and the soon-to-be-released Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He is also a frequent lecturer at The National Film and Television School.

He will be joined by Tom Foley, Creative Director of international typography specialist Dalton Maag, who recently designed the new BBC Sport ‘Leith’ font. Tom will lead two, two hour logo refinement workshop throughout the day.

Workshops on the conference programme will cover intellectual property, accounting for creatives, design career plotting and the business of design. There will also be a full-day portfolio review to offer professional guidance on live projects.

“From textile design to precision engineering, Huddersfield has a rich history of world class invention and creativity running through it. The conference aims to celebrate these roots by looking to the future,” explains Wilson’s Republic co-founder Darren Evans.

“By bringing iconic and inspiring speakers together in a relaxed, collaborative environment, we’re hoping to help further stimulate the profile of design across the town. There’s never been anything like it here.”

“We’re witnessing something of a movement in the town,” adds Aidan. “We’ve always had a prolific talent hub here, as our line-up of Huddersfield born and raised speakers shows. But Huddersfield’s creative heart is growing bigger and bigger every year, so it was time for our events to reflect this.

“Wilson’s Republic has ‘gone large’ – I hope this conference will play a significant part in driving the town’s creative agenda forward!”

Confirmed event partners include Kirklees Council, Bates Mill and stamping foil and decorative film specialist Foilco – who will be inviting delegates to create their own foil card throughout the day. The conference will also be preceded by the latest gathering of Design Network North – a membership organisation which aims to increase the contribution that design makes to the economy. But the hunt is still on for other sponsors to get involved, with interested parties encouraged to make contact via the website.

The event costs £35 to attend, with discounted entry for students (£25) and groups of 5 or more (£30). Tickets can be purchased at and updates can be found on Twitter via @wilsonsrepublic and #WRConf.