In recent years, Portland’s industrial designers have given form to an array of beautiful, functional things Americans use every day, from zip drives and keyboards to camp stoves and, of course, bicycles. In fact, Portland is shining a bright enough light to lure the Industrial Designers Society of America’s (IDSA) annual thinkfest here in August, when 700 attendees will listen to eggheads—half of them home-grown—wax philosophical on everything from electric cars to violins.

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