As the bobcat that is Design Week Portland roars back to life this year, we’re excited to launch the first of seven episodes of our “Design is…” series. To answer this first round, we gathered together one hundred creative minds at the Museum of Contemporary Craft and asked them to complete the sentence, “Design is…” — Andrew Dickson, Kate Bingaman Burt, Carey Otto and Nishat Akhtar expound here alongside a roster of other rad folks, and Maxine Denver made it last.
Stay tuned as we release a new episode every couple of weeks until things ramp up in July, when the plot thickens and the pace quickens. In August, we’ll be launching a new website that’ll help DWP-goers decipher the many-faceted gem of DW’s schedule of events and open houses with more elegance and tighter game.
If you’re interested in creating an event or hosting an open house, fire away — they’re due by July 1 so get out your flint and steel. Get your questions answered, stay up-to-date, and peruse last year’s wildly positive mob mentality for inspiration.
7 People planning
100 Birdhouse Kits
1 Event space
1 Larger than Life sketchXchange guest
130 sketchXchange participants
Over 600 attendees throughout the night
1 top twitter trend #putabirdinit
$6752.29 Raised for arts and music education
It’s not too often you get a chance to see everyone you know from the design community in one space, at one time, but if you attended WeMake’s sketchXchange and Put A Bird In It auction, chances are you did. This event was brought together by a handful of folks passionate about process and the spirit of community. We were set on making an impact not by ourselves or for ourselves, but collectively with all the folks we consider to be a part of our design community. Put A Bird In It, was an opportunity to make a difference at the lowest level, to support future artist, designers, and musicians. It was an opportunity to engage an open dialogue about design through one simple medium. So to hell with Put A Bird On It, Portland people are way more capable of just putting birds on things and calling it art. WeMake art, WeMake connections, WeMake believe, and we did.
At every turn, you couldn’t help to smile at someone, or see people smiling. Everyone was happy, and why wouldn’t they be? We were there to celebrate our design community! The event space at Union Pine was used to its fullest and the creative energy was magnetic. I can not tell you how many people stopped to tell me how awesome everything was, how inspired they were, and how happy they were to be a part of the night’s festivities. I mean 96 beautifully designed birdhouses in one space was a pretty awesome sight, but it was more than that. We were celebrating design, being Portlanders, and embracing the notion of Design in Action.
It’s not just the money we raised that made this night special. It was giving a young designer a chance to buy a piece of art from someone who he admired, on a budget he could afford, for a cause he supported. Everything about the night from Draplin’s sketchXchange, all of the rad houses, each with their unique story, and even placing in the top trends on Twitter in Portland that evening was inspiring. We were reaching out to people and saying, “Hey you should see this!”, admire it, be a part of it, and share it. It was a good thing on so many levels.
I personally want to thank my team, the artists, makers, architects, industrial designers, graphic designers, agencies, and small design studios who took the time in their busy schedules to create something inspiring and to show their support for arts and music education. I also want to thank Vitamin T for all of their support with this event. They’re contribution allowed us to create the birdhouse kits and help to throw an awesome party. Of course we couldn’t have done it without the support of Union Pine who offered up their time, space and patience. Union Pine was the perfect venue to celebrate!
Lastly, thank you to everyone who went to any Design Week Portland event. It was an amazing week filled with awe’s, ooh’s, and feel good inspiration. WeMake was happy and honored to collaborate with DWP and to serve as a member of the planning committee. We look forward to next year and to how we can get the community involved in another Design in Action project. Will there be birds? Who know’s, but there will be something that involves giving back to the community on a level that is grass roots. On a level that allows for so many different types of designers to contribute to. After Put A Bird In It, we have some big shoes to fill.
So much has happened already! Like 35,000 events have gone berserk, sometimes simultaneously. First it’s so important, and I mean really important, to call out Creative Cares for hosting the opening party. Couldn’t have been done without their effort, time, and stewardship. Cheers Burke.
What was important about the opening party is that it was a mental gateway. A way to get buzzed (literally) about what was about to happen. The big city-wide experiment that was either going to flop like a dead fish or totally sizzle the creative community into a big frothy nerve of excellent programming. Too soon to say which happened yet, but clearly at this point we can say people have been enriched, emboldened, inspired, and brought together around what they love.
So, the opening part was a mini-primer. I met Felix Ng who flew to Portland on a spaceship from Singapore, met Architects, Industrial Designers, and old friends I’ve been seeing at these events for years. The perfect mix. The mix to make something happen.
It can be addicting, going to events and getting inspired. This event was a little different, there was no cornerstone speaker, no exhibition of works, no ask. Beyond thanking our hosts, the only call to action was to get damn ready for the days ahead. And right now before I go to another amazing event tonight, I am as excited as I was on the first day. Still feels like Christmas. Still feels like Portland. The creative corridor of Portland Fu*#ing Oregon.
Being a host is somewhat of a nerve-wracking experience. You want everything to be perfect, for people to have a good time, and for there to be enough food/drink/giggles to go around.
But then there’s also the fact that all you need is a good room, some good humans, and the rest takes care of itself. Add beverages or music and it’ll be perfect. Add compelling conversation, and it might even be a success.
Adam Garcia, Mirtho Prepont, and I hosted an open studio this week, and of course the Portland design community expressed itself in an enriching way. Despite not having any real permanent signage for our basement studio, people still found their way down the labyrinth into our little design cave. Personally I was most curious about the strangers that wandered in, designers and non-designers, who were naturally open and chatty. The student turn out was especially important to me, a good crew from PSU and PNCA asked questions, made comments, and hopefully felt welcomed.
Once everyone had left I felt like the energy in our studio felt even more collaborative, open, and transparent. There isn’t much that I like more than seeing a crowd of strangers curious about what’s happening in my workplace. So for me specifically, the studio tour enhanced my space. It made the air clearer. And reminded me of why I come to play everyday, and do what feels truest to myself. Well done Design Week.
Photo by @yeskengo
During the summer of 2010, we had the privilege of hosting Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn: Ceramic Works, 5000 BCE- 2010 CE. Curated by Richard Torchia and Gregg Moore, Arcadia University, the exhibition focused specifically on Ai Weiwei’s ceramics works — and included works from his iconic Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn to a two ton pile of sunflower seeds.
The film Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry provides a rich understanding of what it means to be an activist - to be an artist as activist - in parts of the world where speaking your mind puts you in peril.
My children came with us to the film - and raised a really important point. The film gives you a great sense of the person. But if they hadn’t seen his work at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, they wouldn’t have understood what Ai Weiwei creates as an artist. Brilliant observations from a 12 and 14 year old.
Their feedback prompted me to share links and images from the exhibition with you. I hope this gives you a bit more context to understand a small portion of Ai Weiwei’s artwork.
On the Museum of Contemporary Craft’s website, you can find essays, podcasts of talks by Phil Tinari (interviewed in the film), Dawn Odell (professor from Lewis and Clark College frames the work in the history of Chinese art), and Wei Hsueh, (professor from PNCA explains cultural differences between how Chinese and non-Chinese artists view the production processes).
Here is the direct address to reach the site and explore the writings, multimedia and programs: http://mocc.pnca.edu/exhibitions/1148/
You can purchase this book at the Gallery Store, MoCC here: http://gallery.museumofcontemporarycraft.org/publications/ai.html
The film is very well done - don’t miss it.
—Namita Gupta Wiggers, Director and Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Craft in partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art
Don Rood; of the Felt Hat.
How can art change a moment? The experience that we try to create, through music, painting, architecture… Depending on your perspective, your experience is totally different. Every object carries some remnant of the spirit of intent of the person who created it. That’s why some things move us, and somethings don’t. For Jeff, this commitment to intentions is intact, all the way to the end.
It’s hard to pierce through the veil of how you got to finished work. The process of getting there can be more enjoyable than the finished image. Tonight, we explore the community aspect— their collaborators. A cross-section of the work, organized by our collaborators. We live in an amazing place with a vast network of creatives.
A good collaborator is someone you can ask to participate, and they’ll bring their ideas into the process. When you have a good collaborate, you’ll end up with a product that is different than you anticipate it would have been, and it is better.
“There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.”
- Helen Frankenthaler
This afternoon was the story of Faythe Levine’s career: what she’s done in the past, how it’s informed her work, and how she manages the desire to take on too many projects (tip: taking a month to live in the woods may help).She characterized her presentation as a free-for-all; an open invitation to talk about a lot of what she does, as a timeline of projects she’s worked on and people she’s worked with.
We’re wrapping things up at Pioneer Square! It was fun to hang out in Portland’s living room for the day, chatting with all you interesting folks. We’ve met quite a few people who have come from far and wide for Design Week Portland. It’s great to have you all here!
Tomorrow, the type truck is changing up locations:
The weather looks to be turning, so we may be keeping warm inside the truck if it’s wet. We’d love some good company! The first people to visit us when we open at 11am get sweet swag from Behance, Veer, and Icebreaker. Come on over and say hello.