For eight days in April, thousands of design enthusiasts will descend on Portland to talk about shaping the future — and what they say just might surprise you.
The sixth annual Design Week Portland kicks off April 14-21, 2018, with hands-on workshops, national speakers, open houses and celebrations meant to appeal not just to design geeks but anyone with a passing interest in film, fashion, architecture, graphic design, industrial craft and more. The hundreds of community events are open to the public (with sign-ups), and many are free.
The topics are timely — from the future of cities as technologies change, to the building of movements, to the future of the food system and innovations. “It’s a really rare chance to get access to some world-class work happening,” says Tsilli Pines, a graphic designer who co-founded the event to bring creatives to Portland and Oregon, both of which are regarded to be at the vanguard of global innovation in technology, food, textiles and more. “Many studios here are working on a national or international scale.”
Formerly held in Pioneer Courthouse Square, the event now lives on the east side of Portland. This year Custom Blocks, a new creative office space, will act as headquarters and host of the giant opening party. The main stage will host two days of design conferences, with two dozen speakers from various disciplines.
Among them, Charlie Brown, founder and chief executive officer from Portland-based Context Partners, will dive into what he calls community-centered design with a talk called “Build the Movement.”
“In today’s culture, design — and designers by extension — have a much needed skill set required to sustain meaningful social change,” Brown says. “Successful movements rely on clear shared purpose, compelling future-oriented identities for supporters, and rewards that couldn’t be attained by acting alone.”
At the headquarters each day of Design Week, there will be a different rolling activation — a chance to interact with designers around a social good.
“I think everyone is trying to grapple with the new state of the union,” Pines says, “and how we as professionals can use our skill set to make any kind of difference.”