The fourth-annual Kansas City Design Week took place Feb. 28-March 8 and aimed to show the value of design through exhibits, lectures, workshops, and tours.
Kansas City Design Week is non-profit and volunteer-led. The week-long event is presented by 10 organizations including the American Institute of Architects Kansas City (AIA Kansas City) and the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA Kansas City).
Dawn Taylor, Executive Director at AIA Kansas City, said Design Week tries to unite different design organizations in Kansas City to create a unified voice in the community.
“What Design Week does is connect people with ideas and connect businesses through collaborations,” Taylor said. “Design Week makes people realize that good design is for everyone and it is everywhere.”
The mission of Design Week is to engage the community and demonstrate the value of design in all forms including architecture, graphic, fashion, interior, and industrial.
Taylor said there has been more success this year in public awareness and involvement of non-design professionals in the week’s events. There were 2200 tickets available for events throughout the week and many events sold out.
“This year is exciting because there are some groups and planned events that are pretty small,” Taylor said. “This lets people expand their circle of contacts and leaves room for groups of all sizes to participate.”
Jeff Immer, a co-chair for Design Week, said there is a large emerging economy for design in Kansas City and Design Week serves as a starting point for those who want to get involved.
“Every major city has a Design Week, so I think it’s important for Kansas City to have one as a sort of badge of honor for these hard-working designers to be celebrated,” Immer said.
This is Immer’s second year as co-chair for Design Week and he said even in the short time span, the structure of the event has changed and will continue changing to become more collaborative.
“In just a short time, I think design week has gone from a sit-in-your-seat-and-listen-to-a-speaker kind of thing to more interactive events,” Immer said. “I would like to see more events where the crowd feels like a part of something that’s forward-thinking and challenging.”
Immer said more of the Kansas City economy is being powered by design and Design Week is becoming more integral to the community.
“When people are seeing something they have never seen before or seeing something they have never even thought of, that’s the voice for the future of design,” Immer said.
Alex Ogata, Design Week co-chair, said in the past 10 years, design has come into the forefront of other industries and events like Design Week can rouse interest from the general population and make the community pay more attention.
“It’s important to show people how design is valuable,” Ogata said. “I really believe that design helps make things better and improves the quality of life.”
Ogata said he would like to see Design Week reach a point where the event can do more for the community and address bigger issues.
“With disabled students, we can teach them how to make design a career. Those living in poverty can be taught how design is helpful to them,” Ogata said. “What we need to do is go beyond awareness and make a real impact.”
VOICE OVER: Kansas City Design Week held Pecha Kucha Night at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Thursday March 7, to showcase the work, ideas, and inspirations of seven local artists.
VO: Pecha Kucha Night was developed by an architecture firm in Japan and it has spread to approximately 620 cities worldwide. The presenting artists prepare slideshow presentations of 20 slides that last 20 seconds each.
TOWNSEND: Every Pecha Kucha is a little different. We never quite know what anyone is going to present.
VO: Ryan Townsend works with the Kansas City chapter of Pecha Kucha and said all the presenters represent different fields of art and design. The work presented is diverse and the tone of each presentation can be fun and humorous like the creative advice given by Nicolas Segura.
SEGURA: Is that my music? Hey, there it is. And let me tell you all something, and agree with me if you agree, but those who dance lead very different lives than those who do not.
VO: The tone can also be somber and moving like the vocal artistry of Sheri Purpose Hall.
PURPOSE HALL: Outside my face was an apathetic glucose still while my heart cried. My insides screamed looking around for the red dots on the hidden black camera that was going to get me to America’s Funniest Home Videos still, but this pot of crack I call life wasn’t funny. It was real.
VO: The mission of Design Week is to teach the Kansas City community about the importance of design. Ryan Townsend said it is also important to incorporate different areas of design and celebrate the accomplishments of each field.
TOWNSEND: For the most part, the design disciplines, especially a generation ago, ended up in such little boxes and little categories. I feel like we have a lot more to learn from seeing what everyone else is doing and seeing the way other people work than we do from staying in our own little boxes.
VO: This has been Hannah Swank, Art Addict.