Issue 281
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Everyone has a mate who's a professional designer. You know the drill — 175,000 Instagram followers, a kitchen you'd gladly die in and a Tylko bookcase overflowing with Bauhaus. Offensively talented people, how dare they make our world so pretty? Some of Birmingham — nay — the World's best designers are descending on the city centre for the second annual Birmingham Design Festival (June 6 to 8). Here's our pick of the events that are suitable for those of you with just a passing interest in aesthetics. The recliner designers, if you will... 
Remember the superhuman campaign that supported Rio 2016's Paralympic Games? Turns out we weren't the only people that thought it was all spine-tingly, what with it winning every industry award going, as well as becoming part of the national curriculum. Join Alice Tonge, the first female head of 4creative, Channel 4’s in-house agency, to hear about the campaign, as well as her proposition that the first draft of everything is shit. Book free hereFirst draft of I Choose Birmingham here.  
How does design change the way we taste? Over six courses using different surface patterns, colours and materials, consider whether shapes that you experience on your tongue trigger different taste responses. Designer (and Space_Player) Adam Carthy and food artist Kaye Winwood are owners of the brain cells behind this one, so probably best get on and book (£15)
Illustrator and artist, Sam Pierpoint's talk is already wait list-only, but you can catch Sam by signing up to her paper-cutting workshop at Medicine Bakery. She'll teach you how to bring 2D sketches to life, and maybe you could convince Sam to create a 3D Birmingham like she has in stunning form for our M5 Bristol brethren (above). Book (£25)
Giving big warm hugs to design in all its facets, jump on a two-hour ramble of the canals of Digbeth, exploring the space through street art and graffiti. The walk starts at the old lock canal cottage on Belmont Row and ends at The Ruin on St Ann’s Street where you'll find graffiti film shorts. Book (£3) 
Your phone is more powerful than the computers that took us 384,400 km to the moon. But what goes on in those little black boxes that take up so much of our time? Kano is a tech company that wants to help us understand what those swipes and scrolls add up to. They'll talk big data, social media and information overload as well as how we encourage creativity from our digital devices. Suspect we could all learn something here. Book (free)
Celebrating Storytelling sees some of the geniuses behind The Avengers, Paddington, Potter, Spider-Man and Wallace & Gromit discuss how the hell they make a living out of the thing they presumably love doing the most. Look out in particular for Mike McGee, the only speaker invited to return from last year's festival because he was that bloody good. At Millennium Point, tickets for the 180 minute evening event are £25.
The modern piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori around 1700. He solved the fundamental mechanical problem of piano design: getting the hammer to strike the key but not remain in contact with it. Get back to design basics with Cavendish Pianos and get a crash course in how you build a piano of your own. Book (free)
The full programme for Birmingham Design Festival is available right here.

19 OUT OF 100

What's Birmingham's best side? Mike Allison is on a mission to find out, with 100 Views, a printmaking marathon that's seen the lino cutter and engraver produce a new view from the city most months since he came up with the project in 2015. Library Reflected, number 19 in the series, is an example of how often Mike sees one of Brum's most iconic landmarks not being centre stage, but glimpsed in the background, or in this case, reflected in windows. Join Mike on his journey and maybe even bag yourself four small prints as part of his current competition.


Worldwide excuse to go to the pub, Pint of Science, returns May 20 to 22. Though many of the bar-based sessions have now sold out, large newbie venue, Dig Brew Co's got some availability for its 'atoms to galaxies' chinwags. Get up-to-date on quantum technology and gravitational waves with a Prof and a Doc on May 20 from 6.30pm (tickets are £4) while you s'up proper local beer from Digbeth brewing royalty and maybe get yourself a stonebaked pizza. Check out the rest of the programme right here.


As you've probably learnt from at least half the the weddings you've attended since Captain Corelli's Mandolin took over all bookshelves, "Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away". Fancy seeing the rest of Louis de Bernières beautiful adventure of a novel performed by professionals rather than your mate's gravely hungover best man? A new production of the WW2 tale, based in Cephalonia (*sighs*) in 1941, lands at The Rep on May 29. Tackling the eponymous lead of the book is Alex Mugnaioni who took lessons in mandolin specially for the production. Expect politics, pashing (still a thing?) and probably a rather large measure of weeping. All the good stuff. Captain Corelli's Mandolin is at The Rep until June 15. Tickets are from £15.
Venue: Kitty Café, Grand Central, B2 4BF; website
Choice: Gizmo Chooser: Founder, Kate Charles-Richards

We're dog people. We just are. So it was with a decent dollop of scepticism that we accepted an invitation to a preview of Kitty Café, home to 27 rescue cats, a clinical cattery and a fully functioning (reassuringly sealed off) kitchen. Here's the concept: book an hour-long slot at the happily mismatching big space for £6, bask in the cat paraphernalia and, if our experience was anything to go by, get approached by cats and kittens of all colours and sizes, or maybe just watch them climbing on things. Turns out cats are very good at that. At all times, the stars of the show can choose to return to the quiet of their cattery (via interconnected gaps in the interior walls) and the cafe has its own
rescue home — seven of the kitties that will live in Brum were a feral litter, saved from the local area the day before our visit. Talking of which, so early was our look-see, that the lunches, coffees and cakes that will be for the buying were not yet available — much like Olympic athletes, the cats were acclimatising. So we did the only logical thing and made the owner pick their favourite cat instead of a dish. The correct answer is Gizmo, this handsome fella, who has been at the original Nottingham cafe since he was a kitten. Kitty Café opens its triple safe doors to the public on Monday, where Grand Central's Handmade Burger Company used to be. Dogs though. Book
Ryokō has landed at 1000 Trades. Check out the full menu from the pan-Asian shebang. Think dumplings, pho and summer rolls. 
Our £5 ticket promotion to see Aurora Orchestra sold out so quickly that the lovely lot at Town Hall have added a further 100 tickets for ICB subscribers. Enter "Aurora5" before payment and save up to £35 per ticket. Mad, right? T&C apply

Doughnotts are in town for one day only bringing some outrageous rings of joy to 200 Degrees from 10am this Saturday. The deets
So now everyone ever has a gin menu, let's all learn a little something about rum. The Cuban Embassy's got a festival dedicated to the stuff on June 29 and 30. Tickets are £15.95 including a drink and plenty of samples.
Get eyes on the Edinburgh Fringe comedians before they head north. Edinbrum is at MAC with double bill previews from May 23 to July 25. LOL. Presumably.

"Dogs have owners, cats have staff."


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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Tom Cullen
PICTURES: Birmingham Design Festival (top image) — Jack Spicer Adams, Canal Grafitti — Smog Smiff

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