Portland Design Week 2013 has come and gone in a very successful fall fashion. The growth of the event was noticeable in attendees, participating businesses and event offering. It felt as if every design shop who cares about community was apart of the festivities and the design community as whole benefited. The number of open studio doors with snacks, drinks and good conversation inside, was a refreshing sight. The week felt like a time stamp of who is participating in Portland’s creative industry and where their they sit at the table.
I attended many events throughout the week. The events spanned genres from open studios, art shows and craft makers’ displays to lectures and panels. I talked with more than one event attendee who told me they were not a designer but wanted to participate. I replied to each, with a look as though it was obvious they would want to attend.
Design week is filled with rejuvenating visuals that sent me back to work each morning, charged with thoughts and questions. There is a lot to take in with only one week to do it. Between the design community connections, conversations, hanging art and cocktails, its the lectures that I enjoy the most. I was fortunate enough to catch David Carson and Michael Jager speak. These two lectures epitomized the purpose of design week for me. I left each event with new thoughts on the work I was doing. Cranking out design is a good thing for one’s employment status but does little for the quality of their craft. Design week offers a time to dig deeper, with a strong community at your side to help.
I left the two speeches with more thoughts than I can capture in this one blog post. Now that it has been three week since I heard David and Michael speak, I will try and summarize their messages.
I listed to David speak at Wieden and Kennedy’s beautiful office. David’s work which he displayed, suggests quick movement in design, wandering down many paths for each solution. He stays away from locking in too closely to a finished design, forcing more experimentation. I was very surprised to see how much work he presents to his clients for review. His talk was based on staying outside the grid lines, which for a web designer, was interesting and refreshing. For me, that has meant getting more down on paper before I touch the computer. David’s loose style and speed is great motivation for my thumb-nailing process.
The highlight of my week was learning more about Michael Jager. Michael being one of the founders of JDK design, who’s fancy new Portland office was opened to the public for it’s first party that evening. His lecture was based on “unthinkableism.” He started with a life story, spoken from with a cardboard box over his head, to which childhood images were projected onto. His tale progressed into his design ethos and studio startup. The speech built to the idea of unthinkableism, using examples of unthinkable acts people have made. Michael suggested we get out of our comfort zone with each project we work on. The constant rate of growth in technology, our industry and our personal progression, should never be questioned, only built on-top of. He spoke about pushing away from what we know, to design what is new.
The high quality of craft in Portland is matched only by it’s uniqueness. I will close this post with these animated GIFs of Kelso, Nikki and I in full ham mode. We attended and open studio in Southeast. The studio was filled with metal and wood sculpture and furniture crafts people. For their open house, they invited a photographer who’s setup was impressive enough to produce these cute GIFs. He had three DSLR cameras mounted to a track, separated by a few inches each. The clever fellow had written a program that captured, processed and spit-out these animated GIFs for the subjects to e-mail themselves. Talk about diverse craft, I will let these GIFs speak for themselves.