Seattle Design Festival 2016, Week 1 Free Events

Posted on September 14, 2016, 2:08 pm
7 mins

The Seattle Design Festival had a glorious start with its block party this past weekend. This weekend, PARK(ing) Day Plus will fill the city with creative parklets. This is the first year that PARK(ing) Day installations will be open for a second day, on Friday and Saturday, September 16 and 17. You can check out the map of parklet locations on the Seattle DOT website.

The Seattle Design Festival 2016 has its conference this weekend as well, and there are dozens of lectures and public events happening in conjunction on Thursday, September 15 through Sunday, September 18. Here are some highlights that are free and open to the public, including some with a family-friendly focus.

Thursday, September 15

Public Art: Step It Up at the Harbor Steps, 12pm to 10pm

Step It Up! will cover the Harbor Steps downtown with temporary installations, music and live performances from noon to 10pm. The design firm GGLO will present the party, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The waterfront is a site of major change currently, and the installations at Step it Up! aim to “connect the public with the new ideas and design changes that are set to change the Harbor Steps.” Read more.

Art Installation: Luminarium at JW Architects, 5:30pm to 8pm

Artist, designer and bio-glass advocate Julie Conway presents her blown-glass lighting installation Luminarium at JW architects. Conway collaborated with tech Alex Giorgio and Chris D’Annunzio to create a lighting system controlled by body sensors. The sensors read stress responses and heart rate and alter the light quality of the installation accordingly. A presentation during the event will address sustainability and net-zero building construction. Read more.

Julie Conway glass fixtures

Image via Seattle Design Festival 2016.

Panel Discussion: Local Transgender Narratives at The Henry, 7pm to 9pm

The Henry Art Gallery presents an illuminating panel discussion in conjunction with both SDF 2016 and the recently opened exhibit MOTHA and Chris E. Vargas present: Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects. The discussion moderated by Chris E. Vargas will include: activist and founding member of Equality Washington Marsha Botzer; community leader and radio host Luzviminda Uzuri Carpenter of #LuluNation; veteran performance artist and community advocate Aleksa Manila; and members of the Lion’s Main Art Collective, including founding member and writer Calvin Gimpelevich. Read more.

Friday, September 16

Design Presentation: Emory Douglas at Seattle Public Library, 6pm to 9pm

Graphic designer, illustrator and activist Emory Douglas presents a lecture at Seattle Public Library’s Central Branch downtown, organized by design practice CIVILIZATION. Douglas’ long career has often intersected and been driven by activism prisoner rights and civil rights. A discussion following the lecture will be facilitated by writer and speaker Marissa Jenae Johnson of #blacklivesmatter. Read more.

Image via Seattle Design Festival 2016

Image via Seattle Design Festival 2016

Communal Activity: Seattle VR Hackathon at UW, Starting at 6pm

The Seattle VR Hackathon begins on September 16 at 6pm and runs 24/7 through the weekend, until 6pm on Sunday, September 18. To register as a participant costs $60 (and includes meals), but the public is free to come and see it happen any time at University of Washington’s Center for Education and Research in Construction. Guests can learn about Virtual Reality and other immersive technologies and get direct experience of what it takes to design and develop in VR. Read more.

Saturday, September 17

Communal Activity: The Annual Wayzgoose at SVC, 10am to 4pm

The annual Wayzgoose at the School of Visual Concepts is a party for letterpress printers and their fans. The public event features a mini-marker featuring regional printers and their wares; tours of the new SVC letterpress shop and a letterpress swap meet where enthusiasts can trade equipment, type and cuts. Guests can also print a free letterpress keepsake on a Vandercook proofing press. Read more.

Image via Seattle Design Festival 2016

Image via Seattle Design Festival 2016

Design Presentation: Biomimicry and Design Change at Seattle Public Library

There’s a slew of great lectures happening in connection with the SDF Conference this weekend. Check out the Design in Public website for the full event list. There is also a post-conference mixer at the Center for Architecture and Design, where you can meet and mingle with lecturers and other participants to discuss the conference. That starts at 5:30pm. Read more.

I’m highlighting this lecture because the topic is a personal favorite: biomimicry as design strategy, which observes natural systems that solve human problems.

Lecturer Thomas J. Knittel has worked in the U.S, Asia, Brazil, Middle East and Haiti as a designer who explores connections between people, place and ecology. His work “focuses on integrating models from nature into the design of buildings, communities and cities.” Read more.

Sunday, September 18

My Future Neighborhood at The Center for Architecture and Design, 11am to 3pm

This program is especially focused on middle school and high school students. Participants are invited to imagine how new Sound Transit light rail stations will affect north Seattle neighborhoods when they open in five years. New stations in University District, Roosevelt and Northgate will bring changes to residential and commercial properties in the vicinity.

“What should stay the same? What might be different? How can we make sure everyone feels welcome?”

These are the questions the program will invite participants to discuss with practicing urban planners and designers. They will then present their own ideas through sketches and models. Participants are encouraged to pack a lunch. Read more.


Don’t forget to check out the map of parklets for PARK(ing) Day Plus through SDOT and stay tuned for more recommendations for Seattle Design Festival’s second week of public programs.

T.s. Flock is a writer and arts critic based in Seattle and co-founder of Vanguard Seattle.