YOU'D BE WRONG to place many limitations on the definition of "design." And Design Week Portland rightly doesn't. Design is visual, but it's also felt—emotionally and tactilely—and heard. Perhaps the distinction is whether the design quality of a thing—again, this can be a tangible thing or not—is intentional. But what of nature's design? Can't fate or metaphysical forces be said to be capable of design?
This is why, by virtue of its inclusivity, Design Week can be a lot. There are a lot of events (designweekportland.com), and it seems like half of Portland's population has their hands in at least one of the happenings occurring in every corner of the city. In a way it's always like this, but from October 4-11, the volume will be turned way up.
In its third year, Design Week finally has a home. Its headquarters ("HQ") are three geodesic domes taking over Pioneer Courthouse Square. You can stop in anytime to connect with what's happening at the festival, and the HQ will also host its own events, including podcast tapings, live music, and other "experimental" live performances. It's a development that should go a long way toward making the festival feel less ephemeral for the general public, because it can easily look like an industry event for people who work at branding agencies.
It's not! While there are plenty of opportunities to network and catch pearls of wisdom from successful people who've made their careers in design—like marquee speaker Stefan Sagmeister, who famously designed the covers of classic rock albums and is now busy literally designing his own happiness [see "Be Happy," this page]—it's also a great opportunity to recognize and appreciate the ubiquity of design. Almost anyone can find a point of entry to Design Week that suits their particular interests; you just have to look. It may sometimes be easy to forget, but design is happening all around you, influencing your emotions and decisions every day. It's art, it's structure, it's commerce, and it's opportunity. In short, it really is everything.
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