Openhouse 2023 roundup

This year we’ve had the pleasure of hosting not just one or two, but three Openhouse events — all completely different. All equally fascinating.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Openhouse is our events series with the simple premise of inviting interesting and creative people (usually) from outside the design industry, to come and tell us a story. It was established about 6-7 years ago now (seriously, time escapes us) and we've welcomed speakers as diverse as astrophysicists, brewers, musicians, researchers and wild food experts.

Sustainable Style poster

Our first event of the year welcomed Lisa Dawson on the topic of ‘Resourceful Living’. Lisa is an interior design writer and author, blogger, presenter and social media content creator. She is co-founder of the popular Instagram hashtag, #myhomevibe which has over 3m posts, and previously the interior columnist for Real Homes. Her first book, Resourceful Living, was published Spring 2021 by Kyle Books and in April 2022.

She graced the floor of Northern Monk Chapter Hall on the 23rd March 2023, delivering an insightful talk covering a range of topics such as the move towards sustainable interiors, the impact of social media on the way we decorate, repurposing in the home and how to shop vintage.

The concept of ‘editing’ and repurposing within your home was one of the most interesting sections for me. The idea is simple. Don’t always think that you need something new to improve or change a space. Move things around instead. Just the action of moving a plant, side table or ornament to a different location in your home can create a sense of renewal and allow you to see an object in a different light. Lisa moved things around almost weekly so that something always feels new.

Dark Futures poster

Next up was Susan Watkins on the topic of ‘Dark Futures’. Susan is Professor of Women's Writing at Leeds Beckett University has a special interest in dystopia, apocalyptic fiction, ageing and the future – through her own research and her teaching in Alienation and Dystopia. She’s also the author of ‘Contemporary Women’s Post-Apocalyptic Fiction’, published by Palgrave Macmillan.

We hosted her for a packed audience of dystopia nerds on the 23rd June, where she explored our obsession with dystopia and what it can tell us about ourselves and the world we live in.

She covered the origins of the terms ‘utopia’ and ‘dystopia’, the difference between dystopia and post-apocalyptic, post-millennial anxiety and the ‘end times’ and how current real-world disasters such as climate change and Covid-19 have affected the way we think about the present and the future.

Her section on how dystopia is depicted in film sparked enthusiastic discussion in the Q&A. Susan presented the film posters for five post-apocalyptic films and asked the audience what they noticed about them all. The commonality was that they all starred men. They were about men trying to survive. Men trying to protect women. Men trying to rebuild things the way they were before and men who are nostalgic for the world before things changed.

Susan introduced the term ‘sextinction’, coined by Claire Colbrook as “a word that combines two words: extinction and sex — to describe the fact that imaginative visions of the end of the world cannot seem to move beyond what she calls ‘tiring gender narratives. Why does the post-apocalyptic imagination rely on tiring gender narratives and how are women writers moving beyond those?”

Women in design poster

Our final event of the year was titled Women and Equality in Design, starring Jack Renwick, D&AD President 2023-24 and founder/Creative Director/MD/SD of Jack Renwick Studio, plus Jo Hassall and Liz Stirling, senior lecturers on the Graphic Design course at Leeds Beckett University and members of feminist research and design collective F=.

First up was Liz and Jo of F=. They took us on a fascinating ten-year journey through their research and teachings around feminism, equality and women in design.

In 2013 they led graphic arts and design students and staff through the streets of Leeds to parade a giant bra among the Saturday shoppers, before a ritualistic ‘burning of the bra’, in celebration of International Women’s Day.

This marked the first in a series of public events that set out to explore themes of equality at the heart of design teaching, learning and research experience.

Finally, Jack took to the stage to deliver an energetic recount of her journey through design, sharing stories from her humble beginnings in Glasgow — throwing her dinner out of the high-rise council flat window that she lived in with her parents, through working her arse off to get onto a graphic design course, immediately being the best in class and resulting in her getting an internship at The Partners. This kick started her professional career that saw her grow to become Creative Director, winning plenty of world-class awards along the way, and eventually setting up her own studio.

Jack spoke of her experiences being a woman in design throughout. A notable anecdote was her not believing that she would have had the same chances in her early career had she used her full name ‘Jacqueline’ — rather ‘Jack’ sounded like a boy's name and therefore got her more interviews. When interviewers then met her for the first time they were often shocked and surprised that she was a woman, sometimes casting doubt on her legitimacy as a skilled designer.

It's been a fantastic year of events. We’ve learned so much and heard from some truly inspiring people. We can’t wait to see what’s lined up for 2024!

More views

All views
Insights

5 things we learned from our own MBO

We look back at 5 things we learned from our own MBO and that of peers and clients.

Blog

The rise of the generalist: Thriving amid complexity

Blog

Consumer groups put more value on security

0113 232 9222
The Old Stables
Springwood Gardens
Leeds
LS8 2QB
Newsletter signupPrivacy & Cookies

© ThreeTenSeven 1984 - 2024

Certified B Corporation
Newsletter signupPrivacy & Cookies

© ThreeTenSeven 1984 - 2024

Certified B Corporation
The Old Stables
Springwood Gardens
Leeds
LS8 2QB
0113 232 9222
Certified B Corporation