4 Can’t-Miss Portland Design Week 2019 Events

From radical CLT architecture to visionary Mexican artists, Portland's design world is wider than ever.

By Shayla Norris-York March 26, 2019 Published in the April 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

"How will we reflect the culture here?” That’s the question driving annual festival Design Week Portland, which turns a spotlight on our city’s creative scene via artsy talks, large-scale installations, and wine-fueled office and studio visits. For 2019, DWPs seventh year, a new multidisciplinary jury helped the fest reach out to designers beyond the city center and to more creatives of color—as well as expand offerings in fashion, digital, and other realms.

“Changing who’s at the table at the very beginning has helped us with our goal of amplifying the creative pulse of the city,” says DWP cofounder Tsilli Pines.

The result? Around 150 events across the city, from chocolate sculpture and sneaker design workshops to gentrification walking tours and a convo on music and design with Schoolhouse Electric and Blind Pilot. Overwhelmed? Here are four events to help you plug in. For the full Apr 6–13 schedule, see


If you zip across the Burnside Bridge toward the east side, odds are you’ll catch a glimpse of a wedge-shaped building in the works—squeezed into the awkward Couch Street nook between the towering so-called “Deathstar” high-rise (the Yard) and the wildly patterned Fair-Haired Dumbbell. That’s b76, a 20,000-square-foot project from the local luminaries at Skylab Architecture. It will soon be home to offices and a pair of Hood River imports (Ferment Brewing and Camp 1805 distillery). Hard hats and boots are provided for Skylab′s b76 Guided Tours—a chance to examine the nuts and bolts behind the innovative Burnside Bridgehead space with the architects, engineers, or builders themselves. Bonus: as a nod to area commuters, Skylab is rebuilding the demolished staircase that once connected the Burnside Bridge to SE Third Avenue, too. Tours at 3 and 4 p.m. Wed–Fri, Apr 10–12, b76, $20


During last year’s Design Week, Vespa Portland’s Andrew Callaci met Dawn Moothart, cofounder of Portland Apparel Lab. The meeting led to a sleek Italian scooter for Moothart and an unlikely collaboration for PAL—which, through its sewing classes and professional services like pattern making and size grading, is well known for its work with local fashion entrepreneurs. But a scooter company? Callaci and Moothart will debut A Nod to Mod, a celebration of moto-inspired fashion. Mink Boutique’s Carla Mink and Optic Nerve Knits are among the local designers who have submitted, and the final looks will be judged for creativity, diversity, and functionality both on and off the scooter. 6 p.m. Fri, Apr 12, Vespa Portland, free


Through his outfit Poly-Mode, typographer, teacher, and writer Silas Munro aims to use design to help people “better themselves and improve society.” That might mean helping big organizations—from MoMA to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign—amp up their community involvement and prioritize diversity. Or it could mean illuminating the influence minority voices have on art and the world. His DWP talk aims to explore typography through the lens of civil rights activist and data visualization pioneer W. E. B. DuBois. Munro tackles how DuBois redefined design practices and spoke out against injustices through art. 7 p.m. Thu, Apr 11, The Redd, free


Four Mexican artists take the stage for Breaking Borders: From Mexico to the World to share how the country, and its culture, has shaped their careers, influenced art, and continues to impact the world in ways big and small. Alonso Murillo, who’s styled Harper’s Bazaar shoots and done art and set design for Elle México, is joined by photographer Mariana Garcia, artist Ricardo Gonzalez, and creative director Alan V. Favero. 6 p.m. Thu, Apr 11, Industry, free

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