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We’ll have brand new furniture and interior designs in Festival Square this summer courtesy of the students at Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University – and with thanks to local design agency OH OK Ltd, currently based at PLANT, NOMA, who helped guide the designs through to fruition. We asked them about how they came to be involved in the project…

 

What motivates you about designing and making?

Designing and making with groups of people in a workshop environment such as PLANT is loaded with unforeseen possibilities. We find this exciting.

 

Why did you want to get involved with MIF?

MIF is our city’s biennale. It’s only right and proper that creative businesses and individuals would all want to be involved with the Festival.

 

You’ve used the phrase ‘participatory placemaking’ – but what does it mean?

We try to use design as a catalyst to bring communities together by encouraging people to design and make things they would like to see in their city.

 

Why do you think it is special/important? 

As Jane Jacobs said, ‘Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.’

 

Were you impressed with the students’ work, and what role did you play in the process? 

It’s great to see another year group of highly motivated and skilled designers in Manchester. Our job was to facilitate and offer advice for production.

 

Tell us about some of the groups you’ve worked with on this project and what you think a making workshop might do for them.

The groups have been a real cross-section of Manchester: roofing apprentices, and mental health and wellbeing groups, design students, retirees… it’s been great. We hope that everybody has taken away a couple of new skills, and that they feel like MIF belongs to them and they belong to MIF.

 

What’s been the most enjoyable part of the project?

Our workshop at PLANT, a small community-run factory, has been turned into a production line. It’s shown us what we are capable of and opened up a world of possibilities.

 

Read more about OH OK Ltd at their website – and see their handiwork in Festival Square when it opens on Fri 30 June.

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