Design Week PDX brings relevant thinking for growing city
From giant cat structures and beer labels to activism, gender equity, sustainable fashion and innovative buildings, no subject is immune to good design.
These topics — and a whole lot more — will be the subject of some of the 275 events that make up Design Week Portland, to be held April 14-21 in venues across the city.
Now in its sixth year, the weeklong celebration of creativity is geared toward those in the industry as well as the public, with free or low-cost events and open studios crossing lines across disciplines.
Attendees may hear a lecture, join in a discussion or talk show, walk through a design space, dive into a hands-on activity involving all senses.
"Collaboration and diverse perspectives yield greater innovation and better design," says Tsilli Pines, the festival's director. "Cross-pollination invigorates creative teams small and large, seasoned and fledgling. This year, you'll find countless events that synthesize different disciplines, as well as those that highlight the impact design can have on the future of our city and in our daily lives."
We sat down with Adam Garcia, founder of The Pressure, a Portland creative studio, to ask what it's all about.
BT: How many years have you done DWP? What types of events have you done, and what's been the most fun so far?
Garcia: I've been involved for the last four or so. Usually, I've done a mixture of open houses at The Pressure and involvement in art shows. Last year as a personal exploration I actively tried to engage in a more presentative and performative manner, kind of mixing creative conversation, social engagement and community stuff through a design lens. I read a story I wrote about fiction writing, a presentation karaoke, and the first incarnation of the talk show, which is happening again this year at Instrument.
BT: You're hosting a talk show called "The Pressure is Good For You." What kinds of topics can we expect to hear about? Who shows up for these things, typically? What is the outcome you're hoping for?
Garcia: This year's topic is loosely around the metaphoric concept of "SPACE/S," in an abstract and literal way. Last year was a mix of traditional "talk show" format and variety show, with some surprise performances and audience interaction. This year will be the same, turned up a notch. No spoilers!
BT: How long have you been in Portland, and how does Portland's creative community stack up to other cities? How can we grow and nurture it even more than we do now?
Garcia: I'm a Minneapolis kid, spent some time in Philly and moved to Portland when I was recruited by a local shoe company about a decade ago. I left that job in 2012 for the sole purpose of being more engaged in the creative community in Portland, and people like my friend, powerhouse Kate Bingaman-Burt, were a huge part in me making that decision. Portland is at an interesting point right now, with so many creative humans coming here to be a part of the city for what it is, which inherently changes what the city is. It's a catch-22 that requires a lot of self-reflection as people and a community. What is it about this place that makes it special, and how do we maintain that essence as the city and its culture evolves?
BT: What is the practical application of all of this creative discussion? How does it get translated into actual policy and tangible things around Portland, with all of the bureaucracy that can easily stifle it?
Garcia: To me, the function of discussions around creativity into practical application are infinite. For me, a lot of it is about building a personal approach to life and the world that is inherently about curiosity, bridge-building and open-mindedness. This applies in many many ways, the first about realizing that we are all in this together, and that supporting each other and underrepresented voices in our own community is what will make our city and culture stronger. I think. I don't know. I'm trying.
BT: What events would you recommend a DWP first-timer check out this year, that won't be too scary or geeky and definitely be a good mix of inspiration and education?
Garcia: The One City: Many Futures event at Pacific Northwest College of Art will be an amazing event, and I'm exciting to check out Undesign at Weiden + Kennedy. I'll be a part of Tender Loving Empire's Aesthetics of Album Art panel, which will be a fun one, and stoked to check out Extreme Making and the Designing for Good event. Also, I'll be on as many dance floors as I can. Gotta keep these Portland designers on their toes, you know what I mean?
Design Week 2018
Learn more at designweekportland.com
April 16: "One City: Many Futures; New Portland Architecture," with designers presenting soon-to-be-built innovative buildings and landscapes in a rapid-fire format at Pacific Northwest College of Art
April 17: "Undesign: An Evening of Unexpected Results," with Wieden + Kennedy highlighting T-shirts designed via a process of undesign — a set of constraints that take the design process out of the participants' hands.
April 18: "From Whisper to Machines," an interactive experience by Ziba with ephemera and a sonic arcade framing talks that investigate the role voice plays in shifting our experience, perception and reality.
April 19: "Hang in There - Cat Cafe & Macrame," with Nemo Design leading a macrame workshop of collaborative making of a giant cat tower structure, cat-inspired art and a group piece at Cat Cafe.
April 20: "The Pressure is Good for You," hosted by Adam Garcia. The talk show-meets-variety-show explores themes of fear, insight, humor and the creative process.
April 21: "Sustainable Fashion Forum," a full-day experience designed to spark conversation about ethical and sustainable fashion.