Boston Design Week Highlights Present and Future of Design Innovation

Now, new, next: This is the theme of the fifth-annual Boston Design Week, a citywide event featuring leading innovators in the industries of interior design, architecture, fashion, product design, art, technology, and sustainability. Beginning on April 4, the 12-day festival incorporates over 70 different events from a number of partners including nonprofits, urban planners, architects, and design showrooms.

“The impetus for creating the festival and part of our mission is to increase public awareness and educate the public on all aspects of design,” said Meaghan Flaherty, account manager for Boston Design Week.

The events are applicable to all audiences, with students, families, and business professionals alike encouraged to attend. Most of the programs are free and are scattered across the greater Boston area, including the Metrowest, North Shore, South Shore, and downtown Boston.

Each of the events is intended to call attention to the vibrant design scene shaping the city of Boston in the present and future.

“We wanted to highlight the future of the city, what’s going on right now, and what’s just starting to come up,” Flaherty said.

The festival ranges in scope to include all aspects of the “now, new, next” theme. While Boston Design Week has featured special tracks each year since its inception, 2018 marks the first time the festival follows an overarching theme. Within the broader theme, this year’s themes are designing Boston, professional focus, design and social impact, and Back Bay design district.

The “now” aspect of the theme focuses on current design trends prevalent in Boston in the present. Sustainability factors prominently into this year’s festival, with a large number of events dedicated to its promotion.

The “new” element is fulfilled by the addition of Boston Design Week to World Design Weeks, an international consortium of design weeks. Entrance into the coalition affords Boston Design Week the opportunity to exchange business practices, recruiting strategies, ideas, and sustainable development with other design weeks across the globe.

An increase in internationality is a distinctive aspect of Boston Design Week 2018. According to Flaherty, many international participants have reached out to the festival, including architects from Spain.

Students are an important part of the “next” component. The final round of Design New England’s Design Showdown will take place on April 6. The competition among interior design students gives one winner the career advantage of being featured in the magazine.

Each fall, Boston Design Week creators send out a call for events, sponsors, and various businesses to be a part of the festival. When nonprofits respond with event ideas, the creators approve their proposals and help them promote their events through social media, websites, and the creation of a 90-page guide book.

According to Flaherty, nonprofit participation is a vital component of Boston Design Week, as those events often have the most unique topics. The Institute for Human Centered Design, the Museum of Fine Arts, YouthBuild Boston, and the Boston Landmarks Commission are among this year’s 24 nonprofit partners.

“The nonprofit partners are a really big part of the festival because they bring some really interesting and different events,” Flaherty said.

On the final weekend of Boston Design Week, the festival will culminate with AD20/21 HOME and the Boston Print Fair, a four-day show and sale of furnishings, art, and design. The show will take place at the Cyclorama Building in the South End. Exhibitors from around the country and the festival’s final events will be featured.

Through the broad range of programs, Boston Design Week strives to increase awareness of the active design scene that has characterized the city since it began.

“When people think of Boston they don’t really think of it as a design center like New York City or Paris, but Boston really does play a big role in design,” Flaherty said. “Our architecture is some of the oldest in the country. We have some of the best schools in the country, including design schools.”

Lifelong Boston residents, tourists, and everyone in between are welcome at Boston Design Week, and Flaherty hopes that each attendee will be able to learn something from the tours, panels, workshops, and shows featured at the festival.

“We really want to encourage the city of Boston and people who want to come visit the city of Boston to explore the different aspects of design,” Flaherty said.

Featured Image Courtesy of Boston Design Week

About Chloe McAllaster 18 Articles
Chloe McAllaster is the associate metro editor for The Heights. She is from Phoenix, AZ, and loves assuring her Uber drivers that yes, she does realize it gets cold in Boston.