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Our Guide to Design Week Portland 2016

Written By Blaire Ottoboni | Apr 14, 2016

All eyes are on Portland this week as we kick off the biggest design celebration in the PNW! From sophisticated workshops for the creative connoisseur, to chic parties for the emerging designer, Design Week Portland has something to offer for all.

DWP crams in a lot—design talks, installations, exclusive parties, vernissages, and all the cool spaces opening their doors so that you can catch a glimpse of the magic. There are over 100 events in all, so we’re here to suggest a few of our faves. Be sure to check out the DWP site to see itineraries from some of Portland’s design darlings, make your own, and share your schedule with your besties.

Let’s Party.

How else do you expect us to kick things off? So many companies have made the old Washington High School building their home this year, and I wanna check them out!

Grab a friend and head to the Opening Party on Saturday night. It’s the same cost as many of our fine city’s $10 food cart lunch options. Treat yo’self!

What are the Animals Telling Us?

You’ll need to plan in advance for the big one, and if you can swing the price tag, the keynote content at Revolution Hall from Friday-Saturday will not disappoint. A much-anticipated speaker this year is Intel’s Genevieve Bell, who was named one of Fast Company’s 50 most creative people in business.

Dr. Bell will speak how the animals are chipping in with their share of data mining. For the record, she’s not “just a feral kid from Australia”.

But Wait, There’s More…

Moving into the week, activities include everything from illustration and typography to architecture and archery (really). Here’s a snapshot of a few I plan to attend:

CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap
Instrument, Free
Girls. Code. Need I say more? This screening will explore why there are so few females and people of color among software engineers, and what’s being done to change this. Check out the trailer!

People Process Projects, Snohetta
Center for Architecture, Free
The James Beard Public Market is making a debut this year and–thank goodness–Portland will finally be on the culinary map. Oh, wait. Lucky for us, Snohetta, the Norwegian architect and mastermind behind the project, will let us play all week long at their exhibition. Check out more of their projects.

Central Eastside: Beyond Taking Sides
Bora Architects, Free
Fast forward a few years, and you might not recognize the Inner East Side. With all this development, I’m curious what is being done to maintain the old school urban industrial charm, and keep the ghosts of Portland’s past in check. People from the West side are invited, too.

Piers Fawkes: The Future of Retail
Wildfang, $25
We love what Piers Fawkes has to say. As the founder and editor-in-chief of PSFK, he’ll give us a sneak peak into the future of retail, and how some brands (like Wildfang) are getting it right. Plus, the crew from Sockeye will be hangin’ with us all night long.

The Business of Design: Facilitating the Creative Process
UnionPine, Free
It takes a village in the glamorous agency world. This panel will explore a more integrated approach to careers for Producers, Project Managers, Client Managers and everyone in between.

Design for Youth Culture
Archrival, Free
Let the kind folks at Archrival take you through a crash course in what’s actually buzz-worthy, according to the young ones. Prediction: I might also find out how out of touch I am. Because MTV.

Typefest: How to Use Typography and Design to Stand out in a Crowd
PNCA, $25
Learn how easy it is to share your mad Adobe skillz with a shiny online portfolio. Set yourself up for success, people!

Let’s Explore.

The open houses are clustered by neighborhoods this year, so it’s super easy to hit up a few on your way to a workshop. DWP is all about surprise and delight, so I’ll leave some of this up to the wind. But I know I’d like to check out some local art and pottery at Bright Design Lab, and hang with the fine folks at Fine, MADE, SMITH, Fuzzco, Mutt Industries, OMFGCO, Maak Lab, XPLANE, Wacom and Swift.

We’re bummed that we won’t be able to attend it all, so please let us know what else you find along the way.

Whether you’re ready to jump into a workshop, just wanna hear what’s next for design, or—no judging—just excited about the potential for some free snacks and beer, keep on keepin’ on and get thee to Design Week!

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