This past week, in a 10,000 square-foot salvage warehouse, DesignPhiladelphia hosted an evening of design exhibitions, fashion showcases, and outdoor revelry to kick off the eighth year of this nationally recognized design festival. This citywide festival features five days of non-stop design programming showcasing the work of over 400 designers and creative thinkers in more than 120 public events.
Set on the fringe of Philadelphia's Northern Liberties neighborhood at Provenance Architecturals, guests were treated to a cocktail party amid the many treasures one can find in an architectural salvage shop—Corinthian columns, retro globes, Victorian streetlamps, modern furniture and home decor, monumental church stained glass, slate slabs, stacks of reclaimed wood, 19th-century milling tools and more.
Unlike many design festivals around the world, DesignPhiladelphia aims to demystify design for the general public and make it experiential. They're focused on educating the public—beyond the professional design community—about the importance of good design, and the way design effects our daily lives. As Hilary Jay, Founding Director of DesignPhiladelphia, stated in her opening remarks Wednesday evening, they "envision a future where innovative design is strongly associated with Philadelphia's story, beyond the lore of soft pretzels, cheesesteaks, Rocky movies, and the Liberty Bell." To do this, DesignPhiladelphia plans to move towards becoming a year-round initiative, with events and collaborative projects scheduled throughout the year. Jay also presented the 2012 Design Champion Award to Dr. Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania, for her work connecting Philadelphia's Center City and University City neighborhoods.
The festivities continued outside Provenance's doors and down the cobblestone street with the PopUp Place Street Party. Outside, an interactive architectural structure by Public Workshop morphed throughout the night while guests hung out on a pallet lounge by Bonzai Homes. Tantalizing outdoor projections by Matt Suib and Nadia Hironaka illuminated the walls of the warehouse while the Socially Responsible Fashion Show, So Re Fa, took place amid food trucks and ice cream carts.
Stay tuned for more recaps of DesignPhiladelphia events!
Ilyssa Kyu is a designer residing in South Philadelphia. She currently works as an experience designer & strategist at P'unk Avenue and regularly does graphic design & consulting freelance work with the Mayorâ€™s Office of Sustainability, CultureWorks, GreenLimbs, and South Philly Green Drinks.
Her personal work explores how design can intervene in our complex relationship with nature through engineering empathy into objects and experiences.