Manchester’s love letter to the Barcelona design scene

First launched in 2013, Dave Sedgwick’s event uniting Manchester with Barcelona returns this week for its swansong. He discusses the parallels between the two cities and the realities of producing an event alongside the day job

Since 2013, StudioDBD founder Dave Sedgwick has been bringing Manchester and Barcelona together as unofficial twin cities united by their design scenes. The first BCNMCR event launched ten years ago, followed by a second edition the year after. “When I did the first one, I thought, ‘I’m never doing that again!’ But I learned so much from the first one in 2013.” He knew more about logistics, venues, and audience demand – and he also knew many more Barcelona agencies he wanted to connect with for round two.

By the time 2015 came around – a logical moment for the third edition – Sedgwick had started a family, work became busier, and between it all, event planning understandably fell by the wayside. But he made a promise that year – one that he’d keep eight years down the line – to come back for a swansong in 2023 to mark BCNMCR’s 10th anniversary. The third and final instalment returns on April 21, and quickly sold out in a matter of days. Chaired by former CR editor Patrick Burgoyne, it features a line-up of five speakers: multidisciplinary creative Javier Jaén, creative director Ingrid Picanyol, design agency Pràctica, character animation duo Cabeza Patata, and Lo Siento – the very first Barcelona studio that Sedgwick connected with over ten years ago.

The main event might have sold out, but there’s also a launch night on April 20, which is free and open to all. And, for the first (and last) time, there will be a book available to buy at the launch event, bringing together works by Barcelona studios and creatives – much of it original – alongside Q&As and in-depth interviews. It was a late addition to the mix, after plans to stage an exhibition fell through at the eleventh hour. Yet the book ended up feeling like a more fitting final act. “It’s like a legacy piece. It’s got more longevity than an exhibition, which would be up for a week or two and then taken down never to be seen again, whereas obviously the book lives and last a lot longer.”

Top: Outsiders Division campaign by Cabeza Patata; Above: the BCNMCR book, Design & Dialogue from Barcelona, which references the Catalan flag and a tally chart of the 60 submissions on the cover