More than 80 events, including demonstrations, speakers, open houses, and cocktail receptions, are taking place throughout Boston this week as part of a new citywide festival. Produced by Fusco & Four/Ventures, LLC, the first annual Boston Design Week kicked off last Thursday and will continue until Sunday, March 30, and is focused on the appreciation of all things design.
Meaghan Slaherty, account assistant for Boston Design Week, explained the value of the festival’s focus. “When most people think of design they think of interior design, or architecture, but not necessarily that everything around us has, at some point, been designed,” she said. The organizers hope that the various events planned will help to encourage the public to redefine their awareness of the importance of design and recognize its role in everday lives. This idea determined the breadth of activities planned throughout the week that highlight areas ranging from sculpture to industrial design and fashion to textiles.
“People definitely need to be enlightened as to the various aspects of design all over the city,” Slaherty said. “Of course there is the traditional interior design to furniture design, but also students making robot models-which is going on Sunday-to photography and even food design. We want people to learn how much design there really is, and all of its different definitions.”
Boston Design Week hopes to open the public’s eyes to furniture design, which is the focus of various panels and discussions on Thursday. Throughout the day and across the city, representatives from the furniture design business, including Bradley Odom, the director of Design Education of West Elm, and Dwight Sargent, the owner and founder of Pompanoosuc Mills, will host seminars discussing the very different approaches they take on the same subject.
Also on Thursday is an event held by the Institute for Human Centered Design that focuses on the challenges for some physical human environments. The discussion, entitled “Running with Scissors,” involves working alongside those with hand impairments to understand, as its Boston Design Week description says, “where this scissor idea just doesn’t quite cut it.”
Boston Design Week will not only highlight the differences in areas of design but also the potential variations in the design process. On Friday it is hosting a special event concerning reclaimed retail at Orchard Skate Shop on Newbury St.-which was designed and built by installation artists from !ND!V!DUALS Collective with wood from a 100-year-old, demolished Allston home. “This is just an example of how design is everywhere,” Slaherty said. “You might not think about it, but from the clothes we wear to the cars we drive, everything has been designed.”
Though the idea for Boston Design Week, initially proposed in 2009, was stalled by an unstable economy, Fusco & Four/Ventures, LLC, have always seen Boston as an important location to share their focus on design. To organize the numerous events that make up the festival’s 10 days, planners looked to design weeks of other cities, including Philadelphia and London. “We think that Boston is a really special city both history-wise and design-wise,” Slaherty said. “As Boston is an important world hub, I think it was ready for the city to have this week to showcase its history as well as the future of Boston design.”
The week will close with its biggest event, AD20/21, which is also produced by Fusco & Four/Ventures, LLC and will be held from Friday to Sunday at The Boston Center for the Arts’ Cyclorama. This is the seventh year that Art and Design of the 20th and 21st centuries and The Boston Print Fair will be hosting the show and sale of contemporary fine art, photography, jewelry, furniture, and sculpture in the South End. This year all proceeds of the event will benefit the Boston Architectural College-the largest independent, accredited college of spatial design in New England.
“I think that there’s a lot of good design related happenings in Boston, and this event is an extension of the opportunity to continue to learn about design and why it is so important,” Slaherty said.
Although AD20/21 will begin on Friday, Boston Design Week has already seen positive reception from the city. Events have consistently been standing room only, drawing in both individuals from the design world as well as people on the street. “Our participants have been really happy with the exposure they are getting,” Slaherty said. “We have heard only positive responses from them as well, as the community and the dates are already set for next year.”