Seattle Gets Ready for Design “Super Weekend” with Seattle Design Festival

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Second Annual Event Dedicated to the Power of Design Brings together Citizens, Design Experts, Business and City Leaders

The second annual Seattle Design Festival will take place September 20-23, 2012, at South Lake Union, Seattle

Our goal with the Seattle Design Festival is to provide the platform for Seattleites to engage in thoughtful and fruitful discussions about how design can add vitality to our city and region.
Linda Norlen, Festival Director

For the second year in a row, the Seattle Design Festival, the region’s largest interdisciplinary design event, will provide a forum and platform for Seattleites to understand and embrace the role of design in improving our lives, our city, and our region. With its theme “Engage Your World” and a program packed with tours, exhibits, outdoor installations, activities, films, speakers and more, the Festival invites the public to participate in a conversation about urban life that is both playful and serious. The Seattle Design Festival will take place in the South Lake Union neighborhood, September 20-23, 2012. Thirteen different nonprofit organizations, representing a wide spectrum of design organizations and arts and cultural groups, are collaborating to produce events for the festival.

Design: See, Experience, Interact
The four-day, event-rich program features more than 35 events, providing visitors with the opportunity to experience design used in widely different ways. Highlights include:

  •     Design Block – Located on John St, near Denny and Westlake, the hub of the festival will include cargo containers turned into pop-up shops and activity stations, simple materials into street furniture, and weather balloon “clouds” for projections. Visitors can mingle, browse, and enjoy food tastings from South Lake restaurants such as Flying Fish and La Toscanella, a beer garden, and live music performances.
  •     Design Tours – Some of the most renowned Seattle organizations will open their doors to show how they have incorporated design in their work environment or core practices. These include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; PATH, the international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing global health through innovation; and Chihuly Garden and Glass. Four different walking tours of the South Lake Union neighborhood will show different facets of this district—from landscaping to architecture to the stories of longtime residents (on the festival's first cellphone-directed tour)—demonstrating the profound effects that investment, green construction, and adaptive reuse can bring to a community.
  •     Design and Architecture in Film – In partnership with SIFF Cinema at the Film Center (SIFF’s year-round film venue at Seattle Center), the Seattle Design Festival will screen feature films and documentaries, in which design, architecture, and urban planning play a starring role.
  •     Panels and Speaker Sessions – Experts from leading design firms and organizations will discuss current issues and trends including upcycling, innovation and design thinking, and new approaches to the design of cities.

The core program of the Seattle Design Festival is free and open to the public, although small donations are requested and encouraged. Some events require tickets and reservations. For details, please visit

Design: Participate
In order to encourage participation and facilitate the exchange of ideas, the Seattle Design Festival is also organizing two contests:

  •     The Seattle Design Jam challenges individuals and teams of designers, architects, students and enthusiasts to use basic materials to create engaging street furniture that invites the public to gather and take advantage of public spaces. The deadline to enter is September 6 and entries will be displayed in the Design Block during the Festival. More information is available at
  •     In partnership with Puget Sound Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (PS-SIGCHI) and the Seattle Interaction Design Association (IxDA), and in line with the theme “Engage Your World,” the Festival is also launching a national photo contest asking participants to submit images that show how design inspires and improves their lives, work and play and makes cities more livable and enjoyable communities. Selected images will be featured on the Festival’s Facebook page and all entries will be displayed as part of the Festival’s Design Block in the Hipstamatic Show exhibit. For information on submission guidelines, deadlines and prizes visit

Design in Public
The Festival is organized by Design in Public, a recently launched nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the citizens and leaders of Seattle to create a strong and thriving urban community for the 21st Century through the power of design. The multidisciplinary organization aims to enable creative thinking and relevant, design-based solutions to urban challenges. Citizens and organizations interested in supporting and participating in Design in Public can sign up at

“Design today goes far beyond the creation of handsome physical objects,” said Linda Norlen, Associate Director of Design in Public and festival director. “It is a profound way of thinking and working that can address issues, solve problems, enliven spaces, and help create ease and well being in many situations. Our goal with the Seattle Design Festival is to provide the platform for Seattleites to engage in thoughtful and fruitful discussions about how design can add vitality to our city and region.”

About Design in Public
Design in Public is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that promotes the role of design in improving the Seattle community. Inspired by successful models in cities around the world and founded by AIA Seattle, a chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Design in Public aims to demonstrate the value and relevance of design in public life. For more information please visit, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (@DiPSeattle).

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Emilia Palaveeva

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