7 Design Weeks to Add to Your Calendar

Every city’s design week has a different flavor — some are first forays into getting the local design community together, others are well-established festivals with stellar reputations. No matter the location, design weeks are perfect for making new contacts, recharging your batteries and getting inspired. Whether you’re sipping beers with co-workers, learning new skills in a workshop, or sitting back and listening to giants in your field, the creative potential of a design week is unparalleled. These are the fall and winter design weeks you should have on your 2014 calendar, plus more events to keep on your radar for 2015.


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Vermont Design Week

When: Sept. 22–27, 2014
Where: in and around Burlington, VT
Who’ll be there: designer Pete McCracken and author Warren Berger
What’s going on: This new festival will celebrate how design affects the creative economy, culture and sense of place. The week includes a Vermont Design Awards show, plus a letterpress workshop, happy hour and film screening.

“What makes Vermont Design Week unique? As the home of Ben and Jerry’s, Burton Snowboards and Seventh Generation, Vermont has developed a strong reputation as one of the most creative and entrepreneurial states in the U.S.” says Lara DIckson, AIGA Vermont communications chair .

St. Louis Design Week

st. louis design week

When: Sept. 22–28, 2014
Where: various locations in St. Louis, MO
Who’ll be there: designer Aaron Draplin and Adobe expert Brian Wood
What’s going on: St. Louis Design Week is an opportunity for positivity at a moment when the city really needs it. “This year’s event is also more inclusive than ever: We invited individuals to propose and host their own events, and the ideas we’ve seen have been incredible,” says Mike Spakowski, event chair. “This city is full of talented people who are telling important stories through design, and this year’s Design Week will reflect that in ways big and small.”

This midwestern design week, with open houses, a TEDx event and a “crappy hour,” is majorly cross-disciplinary, Spakowski says. “We have dozens of events for graphic, UX, industrial, landscape, fashion and other designers, but our schedule also touches on topics like sustainability, gender equality, population density, community service and more.”

Design Week Portland

portland oregon design week

When: Oct. 4–11, 2014
Where: all four quadrants of Portland, OR, with headquarters in Pioneer Courthouse Square
Who’ll be there: designer Stefan Sagmeister and artist Lisa Congdon
What’s going on: In its third year, this weeklong series of interactive events, installations and conversations showcasing the evolving state of design in Portland includes more than 100 events, and more than 100 open houses. “We are super grass-roots: barn-raising, DIY, incredibly community-oriented. Not only are there a TON of people who organize events, but we also invite co-conspirators and otherwise instigate content without completely controlling it,” says Design Week Portland board member Kate Bingaman-Burt.


designphiladelphia week 2013

When: Oct. 9–17, 2014
Where: all over Philadelphia, PA
Who’ll be there: designer Paula Scher, Susan Szenasy of Metropolis Magazine and the Hamilton Wood Type Museum
What’s going on: This annual event of the Philadelphia Center for Architecture, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, with lots of workshops, open houses and seminars.

“Philadelphia is a design city, only 10 years ago, we didn’t really know it,” says Hilary Jay, the founding director of DesignPhiladelphia and director of the Philadelphia Center for Architecture. The city has seven colleges and universities with world-class design departments, plus a strong gallery culture and an influx of working creatives. So DesignPhiladelphia was founded in 2004.

“After decades of decline, the Center City is growing again,” Jay says. “Many of Philadelphia’s previously vacant, industrial spaces are alive with small-scale production and creative studios. Tech and design minds are converging in co-working spaces citywide, producing globally recognized innovations.”

Salt Lake Design Week

salt lake city design week

When: Oct. 13–18, 2014
Where: downtown Salt Lake City, UT
Who’ll be there: typographer Gemma O’Brien and Mark Rolston of Argo Design
What’s going on: Workshops, lectures, tours and parties are all on the slate, and the week kicks off with a pecha kucha night teaming up with Craft Lake City on the topic of making and DIY, says Salt Lake Design Week chair Elpitha Tsoutsounakis. Women in Architecture is doing a competition to re-design construction vests with women in mind and will be exhibiting the work, and the Utah Division of Arts & Museums’ annual Design Arts Utah exhibition, curated by Ellen Lupton this year, has its closing during Salt Lake Design Week. The design week’s closing party will be a Beaux Arts Ball, a costume party with a variety of performances and installations throughout the night.

Baltimore Design Week

baltimore maryland design week

When: Oct. 18–25, 2014
Where: Baltimore, MD
Who’ll be there: designers Debbie Millman, Ellen Lupton and Abbott Miller
What’s going on: AIGA Baltimore, which just celebrated its 25 year anniversary, is pulling out all the stops for its design week this year. The Charm City Type Race — a typography scavenger hunt — is back for a second year. The big kickoff event will be at the Baltimore Museum of Art to celebrate the redesign by David Plunkert of Spur Design of the museum’s Big Table space, a place to gather, learn, make and share. Past Big Table designers Bruce Willen and Nolen Strals of Post Typography, Ellen Lupton of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and Abbott Miller of Pentagram will also join the celebration.

Design Week Birmingham

birmingham alabama design week

When: Oct.18–25, 2014
Where: Birmingham, AL
Who’ll be there: Auburn University professor Andrew Freear and designer Aaron Draplin
What’s going on: Centered around the theme “Design Matters,” this southern design week includes events organized by local chapters of AIGA, TEDx, American Society of Landscape Architects, the Birmingham Museum of Art, TechBirmingham and Pecha Kucha. Keynote speaker Aaron Draplin will also be leading a workshop to redesign the city of Birmingham’s flag. Also not to miss: Saturday’s Letterpress and Screen Printers Fair and Bham FEAST (Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics), a dinner where $5,000 will be awarded to one lucky person with a great idea for using design to improve the community.

More Design Weeks in 2014

Phoenix Design Week
When: Oct. 16–24, 2014
Where: Phoenix, AZ

National Design Week
When: Oct. 4-12, 2014
Where: New York, NY

Design Weeks to Watch for in 2015

international competition 2014

The International Design Awards is still accepting entries! Enter your printed and interactive work now (before the Sept. 30, deadline)!