Portland is unarguably a hotbed for design thinking, but in a lot of ways it's a graphic design town. No shade to our friends in the visual disciplines—seriously, most industrial designers' business cards could sorely use your help—but finding the tangible parts of PDX Design Week can take some navigation. Here are our picks for this week's events with informative, attractive, thought provoking and tactile sides.
Grab those event tickets ASAP because after these go, it's branding panel discussions all the way down.
SPEAKING: Design Minds, Design Activism Perfectly timed between the end of the IDSA program and before you really want to check out and get drunk, this Gray Magazine hosted panel covers the intersection between ethics and design with experiences from several professions including textile manufacturers, real estate developers, and folks designing affordable city infrastructure. Given the artists in there too, it's likely to be a bit rowdier than it sounds. Plus, the ticket gets you a drink and a schmooze fest afterwards. Bonus! $15, 5:30-8pm, Hotel Lucia
EXHIBITION: Unparalleled Sports Product The University of Oregon Product Design department routinely turns out high quality students. This show is a great opportunity to check out some exceptional new and old student work. Themes include improving the human body for speed and tackling assistive tech for Paraolympian athletes. Check this out before the panel speaking and then wander through downtown deciding where to drink like an Olympian once you're filled up with design activist vigor. Free, 12pm-6pm, White Box Gallery
SPEAKING: Doernbecher Freestyle: Designing for Kicks Take the Nike shoe design process, subtract many of the normal production constraints, add the weirdly innovative influence of kids, and what will you get? Honestly, the outcomes can be fly af. This panel reunites teams of seasoned Nike designers with young patients who worked together to reimagine classic Nike kicks. The panel will focus on the young designers, with hosting by Michael Doherty (Nike Sr. creative director) and moderation by Lee Banks (Nike product director). Likely to be a fun irreverent look at Nike's ideation and production, with emphasis on the kiddo's outsider perspective and fresh can-do thinking. $10, 5:30-7:00pm, Ziba Design Auditorium
*CORE77 EVENT: An Office on Wheels Visit the Coroflot team's slick office within an office within a garage, get a tour and A some Qs with architect and designer, Laurence Sarrazin. The mobile office is sneakily wedged into the Hand-Eye Supply building's garage, but is filled with light, texture, and almost too many modular fixtures to count. $5, 6:00-7:00pm, Hand-Eye Supply
This is the closest you're going to get to log rolling or chainsaw art competitions in Portland city limits. The team will use several framing and construction methods to produce a freestanding shelter intended for use with solar panels, turning huge timber into a space before your eyes.
$5, 2:00-4:00 PMDesign Studio
DO: Unparalleled Sneaker Jam Thinking shoe design might be for you? Throw down on designs for sick kicks with some guidance and intel from lex Hill, Garrett Tollette, Sara Novak and Kelsey Foo, all UO Sports Product Designers. Hang out with other shoe nerds and novices and leave with work that might help sharpen your portfolio. $5 / Free with student ID, 5pm-8:00pm, White Stag Block
*CORE77 DO: Sketch Jam Don't want to be limited to only shoes? Want more chances to flex on your friends in public with those drawing chops? Want to watch other nerds sketch under pressure with live comedy commentary? Sketch Jam is going to be a super fun blend of skills, performance, competition, and good old drinky camaraderie. The competition is open to all skill levels, and will be judged by five of Portland's most talented sketch-perts from companies like adidas, Nike, Under Armour, and more. Go hard and win prizes like a Cintiq 27, all for drawing stuff and drinking fancy free beer. $5, 6pm-9:00pm, Hand-Eye Supply
LISTEN + SEE: ShowPDX Innovative and Functional Furniture Objects ShowPDX has been a fun roundup of interesting and attractive furniture design for the last few years. Expect a lot of play with materials, an eye for sustainability, and quirky inviting forms. This year's show comes with a panel conversation among the designers. $5, 6pm-9:00pm, Creative Woodworking NW
SPEAKING: Celia Bertoia Visits the Good Mod Mellower day on the event front. If I were you, I'd go buy new sketchpads and weed to recover from the Sketch Jam, then hit up the Good Mod. TGM is already a must-visit for furniture and midcentury design fans, but Thursday is the only day to catch Celia Bertoia discussing the life and work of her father Harry Bertoia, sculptor and designer of the Knoll Diamond chair. $10, 4pm-8:00pm, The Good Mod
DO: Autodesk Design Night Portland Want to see where Autodesk thinks the design future is headed? Want to snack on snacks and drink on drinks while tinkering with their vision of the augmented reality/virtual reality tools coming our way? What are you, some kind of luddite? Enjoy a direct look at weird futurism in design software and an open bar. The tight thing is the right thing. $15, 7pm-10:00pm, INDUSTRY
DO: Design Crawl If you're feeling a little more restless and a lot more mobile, steer that energy towards the The International Interior Design Association's Design Crawl. They'll tour three award-winning spaces that blend unusual design with the needs of their unusual occupants. Get ferried around to cool places, ogle cool use of space and fixtures, and get fed snacks and drinks? Hell yeah. $25-$50, 5:30-9:00pm, Starting location assigned by organizer
An even lighter day. Maybe just go ham on those open houses, invent a new form of bingo using the business cards of incredibly talented manufacturers and local scale producers. Drunkenly proposition the Vanilla Bikes design team and accept a Speedvagen as a consolation prize.
EXHIBITION: Pop Up Display: Makers Woodworks It's zero secret that we at Core77 get excited about cool woodworking. This exhibition pairs work by Makers Woodworks, a three man custom furniture shop, and antique pieces provided by the Architectural Heritage Center. Getting ideas about elegant joinery and interesting problem solving from days of yore is very much in our wheelhouse. Free, 10am-5pm, Architectural Heritage Center
DO: Makers Gotta Make Party ADX knows how to get down. The space with a zillion options for skill learning and resource sharing is opening its doors to the public extra wide, showcasing the work of its talented members, and generally getting more festive as the day goes on. There are also pay to play basic skill-building workshops throughout the day, but it's stuff y'all probably blew past in college. Free, 6pm-Late, ADX
WATCH: Wacom + Pensole Building Bridges Wacom and Pensole have some mysterious live interdisciplinary competition in the works, and they aren't saying much about it. But it's free and sounds like a relay race to glory for somebody, so check it out if you need someone or something to root for. Free, 3-6:30pm, Wacom Experience Center
DO: Official Closing Party There's going to be warehouse party, art, music, weird site specific installations, and a lot of familiar faces, in a neat culmination of the jovial professional-party vibes we've gotten used to over the week. Go out in style, or the inverse, and know you'll be in good company. $10, 7pm-11pm, William / Kaven Annex
Day of rest. Turn off your phone and come drink cucumber water in my backyard. Don't worry, I won't be able to talk about design without puking.