Although the official kickoff ceremony was canceled due to a flood warning on Monday, this year’s Design Week includes more than 30 events taking place throughout the Ocean State — such as exhibitions, talks, tours, panels, workshops and parties — and presenters hail from a variety of industries.
DESIGNxRI runs grants, educational programs and lecture series as well as an annual Design Week event, External Relations Director Ru Sakayama and Internal Relations Director Beret Lavender wrote in an email to the Herald. The organization was founded in 2013 by Lisa Carnevale, Libby Slider, Kelly Taylor, and Emily Hall.
“We wanted to either bring design into what we were doing with arts organizations…or make design (in Rhode Island) more mainstream,” Taylor said, explaining that the group hopes to help bring design companies together.
She added that during their initial research, the group was surprised by the number of art and design companies per capita in Rhode Island and decided to try creating an organization centered around promoting those companies.
The week-long festival aims to educate the public about the design work being done in the state and “celebrate the individuals, companies and organizations” who do it, Sakayama and Lavender wrote. It’s “an opportunity for the Rhode Island design community to demonstrate that we are home to world-class talent.”
Sakayama and Lavender added that this year, in a special celebration of the 10th anniversary of DESIGNxRI and Design Week RI, the organization is hosting “A Decade of Design in Rhode Island,” an exhibition of design work created over the past 10 years. The exhibit — which features more than 100 projects and will be held at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket — will open on Wednesday, September 20.
Each year, Design Week involves significant planning and collaboration with “design firms, individuals, and cultural and educational organizations across the state,” Sakayama and Lavender write.
One long-term collaborator is (add)ventures, a branding agency that has been a sponsor since the first Design Week in 2014, Mary Sadleir, executive vice president and chief strategy officer at (add)ventures, wrote in an email to The Herald.
This year, (add)ventures is hosting a tour of its new virtual production studio — the first of its kind to open in Rhode Island — which was built earlier this year, Sadleir wrote. The studio, which the team calls (add)galaxies, “combines immersive, photorealistic environments with real-world elements using in-camera visual effects, precise camera tracking and Epic Games Unreal Engine software,” according to (add)Projects. website.
Since this technology is “usually reserved for Hollywood blockbusters,” it gives marketers and animators new tools to develop their content. “We look forward to sharing what we know with Rhode Island’s design community,” Sadleir wrote.
Although Design Week RI brings together new participants each year, some collaborators have been involved since its inception and continue to handle DESIGNxRI programming.
Taylor’s business, Kelly Taylor Interior Design, has also remained associated with DESIGNxRI work and events. This year she is co-hosting a Q&A, conversation and exhibition about the intersection of art and design with Candita Clayton, gallerist, curator and art consultant. Taylor said the two often collaborate on projects and believe that “interior design cannot be finished without art.”
(add)ventures remained “involved in DESIGNxRI because it was beneficial for our team to participate in programming, as well as share our space and knowledge with the larger creative community,” Sadlier noted. “Good design is integral to everything we do… (and) design skills permeate research and planning, as well as video, digital, graphics and content creation,” she added.
“The design community (in Rhode Island) is strong, and it’s gotten stronger thanks to organizations like DesignxRI,” according to Sadlier.
“Being part of Design Week means expressing what you do to the public, and potentially helping other designers, artists or anyone else do the same or learn or take away something,” Taylor said.
“We’re a big community of designers but we’re also very close-knit,” Taylor said, adding that the DESIGNxRI program “really brought designers together,” because it allows both veteran and new designers to the state to stay connected.
“Rhode Island is a destination for world-class design and we can’t wait to share work that best exemplifies the high level of creativity produced within our state,” Sakayama and Lavender wrote.
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Ria Rasquinha is a Metro editor covering the beats of College Hill, Fox Point & the Jewelry District, and Brown & Beyond. She also works as an illustrator. She is a sophomore from New York studying biomedical engineering and loves dark chocolate and penguins.