Exploring Design Week Portland (and we'll be covering it live)

While a good number of industry folk will be convening in London for Advertising Week Europe next week, not to be missed in the conversation is Design Week Portland (DWP), taking place from April 15-23. Portland is certainly a “design” and “maker” city with a raft of brands, agencies, collectives, technologists and individuals who put all manner of design front and center. As the industry continues to evolve, morph and coalesce, design (in all its forms) is becoming more pronounced in the overall discussion — and DWP is keen to be a prominent voice in the chorus.

"Design Week Portland creates important moments of overlap between design disciplines that stoke the flames of innovation and impact," says festival director Tsilli Pines, who sees design as a cultural and economic resource. "The festival exists to galvanize the creative community and aims to fuel the city's rise as an important design center. We look forward to increasing a dialogue between creatives in Portland and the rest of the world.”

What makes DWP unique is a hybrid approach, with a great deal of accessibility for those both in and outside of the industry. The downtown Portland HQ is both a functional space for festival goers and a public design installation that is there to, according to DWP, “capture our hopes and dreams for our neighborhoods and our city.”

Throughout the entirety of the week, there are more than 100 events, 200 open houses (focused on specific Portland neighborhoods) and meet ups that can happen at any time, in any place. The scale can feel overwhelming, but that’s one of the big plusses of the week — it is a massive celebration that is both finely tuned, but allows for exploration and serendipitous moments. It is a platform with a simple goal of evangelizing about design and, specifically, Portland design. That said, DWP has smartly curated “itineraries” from some of Portland’s most influential design leaders to make it feel a little less daunting.

One of the crown jewels of DWP is a “main stage” speakers series on the 15th (tomorrow) and the 16th (Saturday) at iconic Revolution Hall inside Southeast Portland’s Washington High School (recently converted to office and meeting space — Linus Pauling and James Beard were among the graduates when it was a working school) that explores the truly vast and deep design ecosystem — and features a long list of accomplished and interesting people.

Join us as we cover the DWP main stage program in a live blog as it happens on Friday and Saturday.

We’ll also check in throughout the week as we explore how design is making a difference both in Portland and around the world.

Day 1 begins tomorrow at 1pm Pacific Time (9pmGMT) and the second day of speakers begins Saturday at 9am (5pmGMT) Pacific Time.

In order, the speakers and topics include:

Day 1 (Friday, April 15th)

Genevieve Bell, Intel

The Internet of Beings

The internet of animals is more than just Keyboard Cat and animated gifs. Intel’s in-house Anthropologist explores what we learn from data mining animals.

Andy Pressman, Rumors

In Defense of Inefficiency

Good UX is commonly associated with clarity and ease of use in the pursuit of business goals. An alternate approach to user experience treats design as a way to communicate ideas through form, rather than as merely a tool for conversion.

Deb Chachra, Olin College of Engineering

Rethinking Making and Education

What hands-on projects can teach us about learning and motivation, and how we can extend these positive outcomes across the curriculum.

Ethan Seltzer, Portland State University

Inhabiting vs. Consuming Place

As Portland increasingly becomes a brand, consumption of our “best practices” is on the rise. What can and can’t be exported? Are “brand” and “place” an unholy alliance or a useful device? Moving from comparison and consumption to context and inhabitation can offer some answers.

Mike Thelin, Feast Portland

The Renaissance that Remade Portland and America

It can be argued that food is now the single most dynamic and influential element of culture within the urban landscape. Amid the movement, what does our emerging food culture say about us, and how can we make sure the progress we’re making on how we eat will leave us with lasting results?

Day 2 (Saturday, April 16th)

Craig Dykers, Snøhetta

Design That Reflects Life

We take great measures to create place and identity in order to define the performance of our lives. Good design should be concerned with the often unseen parameters of these human intentions.

Chad Brown, Soul River Runs Deep

Chasing Ghosts on the River

Many designers search for the most meaningful way to apply their skills. If your capabilities are aligned with service and your true self, your work can have greater impact. Design is a toolkit for your life’s work.

Joe Stewart, Work & Co

The Business of Design

Doing your best work means working your own way on your own terms. That sounds great, but what do you need in your toolbox besides good design to do it? Get a pragmatic, honest look at the formation of a new company that allows its senior people to actually do their work. Hear about what worked, what didn’t, and the not-so-sexy skills you can work on now to set yourself up to run your own show.

Crystal Beasley, Qcut

FutureProofed: Building a Company Worth a Damn

Can user experience design transform antiquated manufacturing paradigms? The CEO of Qcut discusses digital maturity in businesses beyond the tech sector.

Reiko Hillyer, Lewis and Clark College

Design, Justice, and Public Space

One of the most persistent ways by which people exert power over other people is to control their access to space. This talk will examine how the design of our urban landscape includes and excludes, and how it reveals who constitutes “the public.”

Leyla Acaroglu, Disrupt Design

The Desire and Sustainability Nexus

Consumption is one of the biggest drivers of unsustainability. If we know that there are many social and environmental issues that are born out of this, then how can we re-code the desire to consume?

Rob Walker, Writer

Dancing About Ruins

There’s a war out there for your attention. And with so much to look at, it’s easy to forget how to truly see. But there are ways to appreciate the overlooked and underrated, and good reasons to do so. Here, then, are some lessons in “dancing about ruins.”

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.