Manchester design goes Euro: Barcelona’s finest design agencies preview at 2022NQ

Kate Dunstone

Five of BCN’s best design agencies showcase their graphic wares in MCR.

Manchester has long touted its graphic design scene as a vibrant, dynamic alternative to London, one that is willing to take risks and do things a little differently. These self-professed traits are what it claims to have in common with Spain’s “second city”, Barcelona – and next month, upcoming exhibition BCN:MCR gives Manchester’s design enthusiasts the chance to compare the two cities’ design output in person, as some of Barcelona’s most exciting design agencies showcase their work at 2022NQ.

Exhibition organiser Dave Sedgwick, AKA Manchester designer Design by Dave, has had a fascination with Barcelona since a primary school project first introduced him to the Catalan capital; a working holiday there last year cemented the idea for the exhibition. “Both Barcelona and Manchester are cosmopolitan, European cities with a creative and flourishing design community and a distinctive identity,” says Sedgwick. “So, I thought it would be a great idea to bring Barcelona to Manchester, so to speak.” It was an ambitious venture, not least as the exhibition is the first time that Sedgwick has curated an exhibition.

It is ambitious and original – much like the respective design scenes of the cities that share its name

The show features five Barcelona agencies, Lo Siento, Hey!, Mucho, Lamosca and Mayúscula, who, alongside showcasing their work at 2022NQ, have collaborated on the exhibition’s identity, each putting their own creative spin on one letter of the exhibition’s title. Sedgwick put his own mark on the final letter, and this one-off typography will be displayed in a parallel mini-exhibition at TAKK, the Northern Quarter’s newest coffee shop.

BCN:MCR marks another solid, design-led exhibition for 2022NQ. “We are firm supporters of the creative design community in Manchester,” says the venue’s Jamie Scahill, “and we’re looking forward to welcoming some of the top design agencies from Barcelona to Manchester.” The Manchester-based Institute Cervantes has also been instrumental in pulling the show together, and this enthusiastic support, as well as what Sedgwick describes as the “underground, Barcelona feel” of 2022NQ itself, make it an apt meeting place for the two cities’ design minds.

The exhibition kicks off on 21 February, with a (sold-out) talk the following day featuring Lo Siento’s Borja Martinez, Mucho’s Pablo Juncadella, Rocio Martinavarro from Mayúscula and Veronica Fuerta from Hey!, offering a chance for curious attendees to learn first-hand about living and working in one of Europe’s most vibrant cultural capitals. As for the exhibition, it promises to be ambitious and original – much like the respective design scenes of the cities that share its name.

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