Since debuting in 2012, Design Week Portland has cut a strikingly ambitious—protean, even—figure: a sprawling, come-one-come-all team effort at citywide takeover by the whole local design community.
The festival took an intriguing open-source approach, inviting Portland creatives and the businesses that employ them to conceive and stage events under the DWP banner. In a time when “curated” is often the first adjective out of anyone’s mouth, this freewheeling format was refreshing. It did feel a little uncentered—an issue DWP organizers plan to address when the festival makes its full-fledged return in April 2016, with a focused two-day main-stage kicking off the festivities before the wide-ranging showcases, talks, and open studios take over.
Meanwhile, in October—DWP’s former calendar home—a “pop-up” version of the festival will keep the creative fires burning. From October 10 through October 17, DWP curates killer combinations: one daily open house at a leading Portland design enterprise, with one flagship conversation with compelling design thinkers.
It’s a strong line-up. Five likely highlights:
The Made Here PDX Open House: This emporium of locally crafted products pretty much encapsulates the Portland “maker” aesthetic, and its spacious edge-of-the-Pearl digs will make a perfect place to launch the DWP pop-up’s week of high-minded festivity.
Eastside Uprising: The Architects Shaping the Big, New Burnside Bridgehead: Between them, the architects and developers from Skylab, Works Partnership, and Guerrilla are remaking a signature crossroads at Portland’s heart: the long-desolate eastern end of the Burnside Bridge, now rapidly rising as a collection of signature buildings. Check in on one of the highest-profile redefinitions of central Portland’s landscape.
From the Fringe to the Everyday: How do technology and design innovations make the transition from avant garde obscurity to world-changing ubiquity? Four heavy-hitting thinkers gather at Ziba, arguably Portland’s best-known industrial design outfit, to weigh in: Hector Ouilhet, a senior designer at Google NOW; Herman D’Hooge, an Intel innovation strategist; Hideshi Hamaguchi, Ziba executive fellow and CEO of the design firm monogoto; Paul O’Connor, Ziba’s long-serving executive creative director.
Paula Scher: Identity Design Today...and Why the Blogosphere Should Shut Up!: One of the nation’s best-known and most outspoken graphic designers unloads on the conventional wisdom. A partner in Pentagram, Scher is renowned for work for clients ranging from the Public Theater to Microsoft…and—perhaps more superficially, but entertainingly—for blaming both the Vietnam and Iraq wars on Helvetica. Yes, the typeface.
Open House: Allied Works: Arguably Portland’s most significant architectural firm, Allied welcomes visitors to the studio that created Denver’s Clyfford Still Museum, New York’s remade (and controversial) Museum of Arts and Design, and the Pearl District’s creative-industry flagship, the Wieden & Kennedy building.