Issue 230
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Mate, if you need design work done and you're considering designers from outside Birmingham, then we need to have words. If this city were a giant squid it would have design-flavoured, multi-coloured ink oozing from between its gifted gills at all times. And on that note, here's the highlights of the first ever Birmingham Design Festival, as chosen by the organisers. It runs June 7 to 10 and welcomes everyone from seasoned graphic professionals, to those who just like nice looking things.

If we could have bottled the look on festival organiser Luke Tonge's face when he told us Aaron James Draplin was speaking at Birmingham Conservatoire, we would have bottled it, had Draplin himself design a label for it, and flogged the lot by the case load. Those on the inside are describing Draplin's attendance as "the big one". You may know him best (or not at all) for the Field Notes brand: a collection of smartly-designed, vintage-style pocket notebooks and calendars, but he's worked with a hefty amount of names (some of which are above). He'll be joined by the Yarza twins, whose website is a real rabbit hole, and graphic designer and creative director Tom Muller who was named as one of the top 100 designers working in the UK today, by The Drum. Book   

You've seen Jim Kerr's work, even if you don't know it. The man behind Seven9Signs is responsible for some of the most visible art in the city. This is one of his. As is this. And this. And if they're not ringing bells then you'll know his skills from Zindiya (above), the Dark Horse, The Pig & Tail and many more F&B designy delights. He's conducting a sign-writing workshop from his Digbeth studio and you're more than a little bit invited. You'll be looking at tools of the trade, layout, lettering styles and brush control, and you'll go home (or to the pub) with a "show card" of your own design. Book     

If you've ever had a meeting with a member of the I Choose Birmingham team you'll know that we have a rotating collection of holiday bought pens that we use to take down, erm, detailed notes, each one tackier than the last. To be honest they're causing a few problems in high-level negotiations. Ajoto design dreamy and timeless writing tools and could perhaps transform our business. They'll be talking pen and wallet design, while Uniform Wares will be giving you the steer on how they go about making wonderful watches that don't cost eleventy hundred pounds. Book    

The fest has teamed up with The Electric Cinema for a spesh screening of Solo: A Star Wars Story with an introduction from Andrew Booth (Creative Director) and Laura Dishington (Lead Designer on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Blade Runner 2049) who both collaborated on Solo. The pair will take you on a journey through the creation of the graphic design in the Star Wars universe, and how practical effects complement and enhance the production design. Chewbacca impressions are strictly banned within a 30 metre radius of the venue. Book 

You know when you're handed a business card and there's a foily sort of effect on the logo, or perhaps on the print, and you have yourself a bit of an American Psycho moment? Foiling is the process and it's a super stunning way to add a moment of pizzazz to a design. Experts Foilco will be at Rope Press on June 7 to show you how it's done and to let you make some of your own designs. Book

In an act of covetable coolness the festival organisers have linked up with hop-happy beer makers Birmingham Brewing Co to produce four kegs and 600 cans of a one-off BDF beer. Cans will be available to buy at every event on the calendar, and it's set to sell on tap at as yet unnamed pubs. Expect more hops than a 1980s school hopscotch court, and a hint of floral in this hazy pale ale.


So that was summer. Next up, The Rep's Autumn/Winter season, which has now been announced. Jump on a psychedelic medical trial in All You Need Is LSD or try what we're assuming will be your first Korean-English production, with bilingual Orange Polar Bear, or maybe go see Ian Rankin's fave detective, Rebus, for reals. Rankin has written the completely new story exclusively for stage along with award-winner of a playwright, Rona Munro. Rebus: Long Shadows is at The Rep from 20 Sept to Oct 6. Tickets are from £10.


It's funny the things your brain retains and the things it ejects. We can't remember anyone's name at the precise moment of introduction, but do remember that Digbeth-born party night HOTT DATE was spelt with two T's. Jeez, thanks brain! Launched a decade ago at The Rainbow and finding digs at The Flapper (RIP) and The Hare, it promptly vanished like Keyser Söze. But now, in their own words: "It's back! Like that friend you chucked out of the party, who climbed back in through the bathroom window," and it’s bringing new and old friends to Cafe Colette, May 6. Digbo Din-Dins are on food and the day after the night before is a bank hol. So you're out of excuses. £5 to £8


There's been some big restaurant launches of late but none of them come close to Opheem. The Former Lasan chef and Saturday Morning Kitchen regular, Aktar Islam, is to launch this, his first solo restaurant, in Brum in May and it's all about celebrating the the culinary heritage of India. The 70-cover venue in Summer Row — currently home to that eminently replaceable M-Club — will take inspo from the age-old recipes enjoyed by the Mughals, Nizams and Maharajas, all combined with the best Brit produce. Fancy being one of the first to visit, and fancy eating for free? Aktar is, quite staggeringly, giving away a table for two every night for 150 nights. Starters include 'parai' (Cornish mackerel, Goan fermented chilli and Tokyo turnip) and 'samudrapheni' (octopus, tandoori spices and pickled carrot). On mains we're liking what we're reading about 'allepy' (turbot in tempered Keralan coconut milk and raw mango) and Aktar’s spin on vindaloo (pork jowl, pickled vindaloo purée and confit garlic). You can win that table right here. You can take us with you, too.   


The more excitable sections of the internet are already calling this ‘Shakespearean,’ which is nonsense, but it does give you a clue that this third Marvel team-up is a tad more ambitious than, say, the last Thor movie. Josh Brolin’s intergalactic space tyrant Thanos (pictured) is on a mission to kill half of Earth’s population, and Earth’s mightiest heroes split up into three groups to take him on. Marvel is starting to make keeping this busy cast organised look easy, and it’s an admirable feat of logistics – but the main takeaway is just how damn entertaining the film is. Meaningless fun, like all good popcorn flicks, but there’s also a new feeling that the Avengers are out of their depth, which leads to some surprisingly emotional moments, even for non-fans. Times


Four years ago Moseley's Deolali, one of Brum's most beautiful restaurants, closed its giant stagecoach-style entrance and it's lain wastefully dormant ever since. Next week, though, the stunning loft space is coming back to life with Deolali Goes Pop, a series of pop-up events lasting a weekend and changing on a weekly basis. Hot dog purveyors Fat Snags are first up (May 4 to May 6 inclusive), while new gourmet fried chicken and rib team Bone Selecta (combining Little Blackwood's Ben Taylor and long time pal and chef Chas Cureton) will land for their three-day stint on May 10. Expect a bar stocked with beers by Purity, cocktails by Crushed & Cubed and wine by Connollys. Get onto DGP's Twitter for further announcements and mid-week specials. More
Venue: Comptoir Libanais, Grand Central, B2 4BF; Website
Choice: Fattet moussaka (£9.95) Chooser: Manager

If you want the best mezze in Birmingham, go to Damascena. If you want the best mixed grill, go to Colbeh. If you want really good Lebanese food, in a super central location, that's open later than the aforementioned restaurant, and earlier than the latter, head to Comptoir Libanais. If you can get a table, that is. This welcome addition to Grand Central was bursting at its seams when we went and has been chockerblocker every time we've passed — from its bright interior to its super-on-it staff, it breeds buzz and positivity from its diners. The mezze sharer is gargantuan, and if you're planning to eat anything after it, order for one rather than two. Then get familiar with the Levantine take on moussaka. Forget lamb, Bechemal and potato (the Greek style), this layered triumph includes the usual baked aubergine beginning but gets its richness from warm tahini, chickpeas and yogurt sauce topped with the most moreish crispy pitta and onions. Somehow even nicer completely cold the following evening, with a lamb kofta on the side. Yes, Comptoir does doggy bags.
Colmore Food Festival is hosting a secret squirrels fringe event, but we've cottoned on. Meet at Pinchos for tapas before you're sent to Brum's only real secret bar. Tickets
Birmingham Brewing Company now sell t-shirts and if they see we've featured it here they *might* just send us one free. 
Bear Grylls is opening up an adventure park at the NEC and he wants YOU to be his adrenaline adviser. Peeing in a hollowed out snake is totally optional. 
Wingmans are doing stonking things with chicken wings. And they're in town this weekend.
Purecraft is launching brunch THIS SATURDAY until midday. We got ourselves a little preview and it's as completely brilliant as you'd expect. Book? 

"Rebus reminded himself to stop praying. Perhaps if he stopped praying, God would take the hint and stop being such a bastard to one of his few believers on this near-godforsaken planet."

'Knots and Crosses' by Ian Rankin

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WORDS: Tom CullenAndrew LowryKaty Drohan
PICTURES: Elliot Brown (Deolali)

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