DesignPhiladelphia To Turn Philly Into Design Central

City-wide celebration of all things design will take place October 13 - 23

September 2, 2011

DesignPhiladelphia, the city-wide celebration of all things design, kicks off its seventh year bigger, better and more influential than ever. One of largest events of its kind in the country, DesignPhiladelphia has been presented in partnership with the University of the Arts since 2010.

From industrial design to fashion, historic preservation to futuristic public art, DesignPhiladelphia unites the creative disciplines with over 120 public events over 10 days. Celebrating Philadelphia’s unique design history and vibrant contemporary design scene, this unique event is a showcase for the city’s creative community, among them many UArts alumni.

"The University of the Arts is excited to partner with DesignPhiladelphia for the second year," said University President Sean T. Buffington. "DesignPhiladelphia is a major player in focusing national attention on the city as a rapidly growing center of design innovation and excellence. The timing is appropriate, as the University brings together its design programs in an integrated fashion as part of an innovative new academic plan."

During DesignPhiladelphia, students, professionals and the public have the opportunity to consider big issues like sustainability, transportation systems and the future of preserving historic spaces. Talks and tours from national and international design visionaries are offered around the city. The city itself becomes a part of the design, as public spaces are transformed into stages and playgrounds, with innovative performances, scavenger hunts and large-scale interactive public art.

UArts grads get into the spirit with events both off the wall and in the know. Georgia Guthrie MID ’11 (Industrial Design), artistic director of the Hacktory technology and art collective, sponsors a printer smash, while Ashley Gehman BS ’07 (Industrial Design) of Arcadia Boutique hosts a fashion show of autumn’s collections.

“Blue: Red: Yellow,” a sustainable design project  by Elissa Meyers BS ’10 (Industrial Design) partially sponsored by the University’s Corzo Center, will be hosting a hands-on workshop demonstrating the processes involved in using plant material to create natural dyed fabrics. Giacomo Ciminello BFA ’99 (Graphic Design) and Kristin Freese MID ’11 (Industrial Design), founders of play project PlayPhilly, will transform the entrance to Café Cret on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with their “Big Chalkers,” four-foot tall chalk crayons available to encourage the public to “color outside the lines” and transform sidewalks with their art.

Keeping all these and other events (like the ones listed below) organized is DesignPhilly’s programming coordinator Jackie Starker BS ’10 (Industrial Design).

Kick-Off Party: Loft District
October 13
Philadelphia’s Loft District was recently highlighted in a New York Times article on the design opportunities presented by abandoned elevated railway lines à la New York’s High Line. Shadowed by the old Reading Viaduct, the Loft District is home to some of Philly’s most cutting-edge galleries and innovative design potential, and a natural setting for the outrageous party to kick off 10 days of design celebration. On opening night, the festival will present the first annual Design Champion Award.

“Making It: Alumni Works ’01-’11”
October 20 - 30
Opening Reception: October 22
Recent University of the Arts alumni were invited to submit work for “Making It: Alumni Works ’01-’11,” a juried exhibition that will coincide with DesignPhiladelphia as well as the University’s Family and Alumni Weekend. The jury for “Making It” included distinguished members of the Philadelphia arts community, as well as notable University of the Arts and alumni. There will be a reception at the exhibition at CBS Auditorium and Solmssen Court, both in Hamilton Hall, on Saturday, October 22 from 5 – 7 p.m. To register for the reception, visit

“Not a Vacant Lot,” 313 S. Broad Street
October 18 - 23
A vacant lot on the Avenue of the Arts is transformed by a five-day exhibition of performance, projections and landscape design, in partnership with independent curator Marianne Bernstein. 

“Dialogues on Design,” sponsored by DuPont Corian
October 14, 17, 18 & 20
Talks at the Center for Architecture and the Marketplace Design Center feature contemporary design topics and include UArts alumnus Jaime Salm BS ’01 (Industrial Design) sharing his journey in building MIO, a nationally recognized design and consulting company that defines best practices in sustainability.

“Gray Area: Provocations for the Future of Preservation,” Center for Architecture
October 19
A moderated panel discussion of nationally recognized architects, preservationists and urban planners provokes fresh thinking about historic preservation in light of a fast-changing landscape of new economic realities, demographic shifts, technological changes and environmental pressures.

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