As the design magazine for the Pacific Northwest, we’re always excited to hear about new design-related events happening in our region. But excited is an understatement for what we felt when we learned about the inaugural Vancouver Design Week. GRAY is proud to be a media partner for the two-week showcase, which runs through September 28, and we reached out to director Jennifer Cutbill to get the scoop behind her decision to launch VDW.
|Vancouver Design Week Co-Director Jane Cox and Director Jennifer Cutbill|
First of all, tell us about Vancouver Design Week. What should people expect?
Vancouver Design Week is the city's first ever citywide and trans-disciplinary design event. It is a platform for showcasing the amazing talent we have here in Vancouver (that too often goes overlooked or undervalued), as well as an invitation to the entire city to immerse itself in design across multiple disciplines. It is also a call to action for designers, design-thinkers, and all who live in and love this city, to discover what design is and how it can improve the quality of life of our city—today and throughout the future.
At VDW, people can expect to engage design like they never have before with talks, tours, workshops, exhibitions, awards, and parties, but also through less-expected programming like Open Studios, Samplings, and various design pop-ups across the city. It will be a chance to peek behind the curtain of designers’ processes and perspectives, to celebrate what makes Vancouver design unique and valuable, and to engage the whole city in conversation about what design is, what it can do, and why it is so vitally important!
What made you decide to tackle the task of starting a design week in Vancouver?
Initially I had not intended to set out on this path. With a background in art history, architecture, regenerative design, climate change policy, and systems ecology, my focus had been more on how we solve the truly gnarly problems we face as a city and as a society. It is increasingly clear that these problems will not be solved by any single design discipline, but rather by collaborating across multiple disciplines. It also seems clear that we need to start by finding ways to break down current barriers and radically shift the conversation and culture if we hope to solve them. Design Week seemed to offer a strategic means to engage more people in the conversation to (hopefully) really shift the needle.
How do you think this will affect the design community in Vancouver? What are your hopes for how it can help designers?
My hope for Vancouver Design Week is that it can become a platform for connecting designers across disciplines, for spotlighting unique talent and innovation, and for ultimately shifting not just the conversation but for shifting mindsets and shifting values so we can leverage lateral thinking and design agency to inspire investment in design and its incredible potential.
Design is not just a noun, but a powerful verb and vehicle for realizing meaningful change and holistically improving the quality of life in this city (and beyond), and I am hoping Vancouver Design Week can help us—as a city and a latent design culture—realize our full potential.
What are some highlights of VDW? What are you most excited for?
We have a fantastic lineup of events ranging from talks and tours to parties and pop-ups to exhibitions and studio tours. There are exciting special Vancouver Design Week editions of some already-loved events such as Pecha Kucha Night, Creative Mornings, Designer of the Year Awards, Party4Architects, Built City Speaker series, Modern Home tours and IDSWest's full event programming. In addition, we are also excited about several new events, including the inaugural Mayor's Vancouver Urban Design Awards; an Architecture for Breakfast speaker series to leverage greater design agency; creative leadership workshops from THNK; design-thinking studios from Briteweb and others; an interactive pop-up exhibition plus public party at the MOV called “Why I Design,” focusing on process and local innovation; hands on prototyping at Makerlabs; and a range of other new creations.
And within this broad spectrum we are especially excited about our three VDW signature events: Open Studios, Open Buildings, and Samplings (the latter is like a design-insider version of Dine Out Vancouver)—all open doors focusing on immersing the public in design process and practice and exchanging perspectives between and across disciplines.
Is this architecture and interior design-focused, or are there other types of design highlighted as well?
Vancouver Design Week runs the gamut from architecture and urban design through to graphic design, web, communications, industrial, gastronomy, fashion, landscape, creative leadership, and everything in between.
So there is something for everyone, and an unparalleled chance to join in, speak up, and stand out for design in Vancouver!
Image by Sergio Vara.