In advance of the sixth annual Design Week Portland, we sat down with director Tsilli Pines.
Give us your elevator pitch to people who’ve never attended the festival.
This is the one time during the year when you can get an inside look at the products we interact with, the city, and all the different designed experiences we engage with. You can access spaces that are usually closed to the public, and meet with people designing buildings or making the outdoor apparel Portland is known for.
This year, many DWP events focus on design helping to solve social issues.
Design is more than just making stuff, right? Design absolutely extends beyond products and buildings. People who are making policy are designers. We are all creating the human experience with our decisions, and I think design thinking ultimately extends to everything. It’s a dangerous can of worms, right? If design is everything, then design is nothing. But in Portland there’s a certain scale where everyone can have an impact, and a lot of designers look at the landscape—politically, culturally, socially—and think about how can their skills be helpful.
How would you characterize the local design scene?
Portland is more highly collaborative than any other place I’ve lived. Part of that is just the scale—given the volume of design that is happening here for the size of city we are, there’s a proximity to people doing complementary things. But I think it’s just also part of the culture of the city. People are not in a competitive mind-set as much.
How has the festival evolved?
When we started in 2012, we were a ragtag group of folks, each organizing our own events with our own audiences. This year we’re trying, in some ways, to go back to our roots and strengthen the independent events again. The thing Design Week is known for is the 300 things going on around town: interesting people hosting interesting events.
7–11 p.m. Sat, April 14, Custom Blocks, 900-998 SE Main St, $15