Art & Design

DesignPhiladelphia Hits Home With This Year’s Festival

October 5, 2016 | by Michael Bixler


| Photo: DesignPhiladelphia

DesignPhiladelphia brings it “Home” with this year’s festival theme. | Photo: DesignPhiladelphia

Tonight Philadelphia dives into the 12th year of the annual ten-day DesignPhiladelphia festival with a kick off party and benefit at Provenance architectural salvage in Kensington. This year’s exhaustive list showcases the work of designers, architects, and artists with more than 100 public workshops, panels discussions, and exhibitions all orbiting around the concept of “home.” The topic couldn’t be timelier, as construction crews blockade nearly every Center City sidewalk and tower cranes continue to litter our skyline from both sides of the Schuylkill River down to Delaware Avenue. The city’s real estate market remains hot, with housing prices up 6.2 percent in the second quarter of 2016 alone. There are 32 high-rise projects currently underway to go along with luxury row houses infilling neighborhood streets and, since 2007, steady population growth. Major investments in housing, retail, hospitality, and public space, among other vital sectors, totaled $8.5 billion in 2015, according to a report by the Center City District and Central Philadelphia Development Corporation.

All of this building begs for intelligent design interventions that examine new and better ways to live. Standout events at this year’s festival tackle local urban issues like healthcare and poverty, childhood development in urban play spaces, the role of the rowhouse in the 21st century, and supporting community action in historic preservation with grassroots education. A myriad of talks, tours, and open studios highlighting new trends in urbanism and interior design round out the novella-sized event guide. Here are ten staff picks not to be missed.

klippNew Inside World: Light and Form

Thursday October 6th – October 8th: 6:00PM – 9:00PM
Sunday October 9th – October 15th: 2:00PM – 6:00PM

Arch Street Meeting House
320 Arch Street, Philadelphia

Admission is free. No registration required.

Past, present, and future interior design promise to melt the senses in this exhibition of fixtures, furniture, and textiles. We are most interested in seeing Northern Liberties creative agency Kipp Collective’s contribution to the ensemble. Judging by their month-long multimedia installation this summer, Vacant America: the Bok buildingit will be haunting, hypnotic, and bathed in unnatural light.

playWhere Design Comes Into Play Exhibit

Thursday October 6th – October 10th: 9:00AM – 6:00PM
Thursday October 13th – October 16th: 9:00AM – 6:00PM

City Hall (NE Visitor’s Entrance 2nd & 4th Floors)
1401 JFK Boulevard

Admission is free. No registration required

Designers, educators, childcare providers, and communities sketch out their visions for a better playground. This exhibit presents inventive ideas for play space that enriches cognitive and physical development, while fostering children’s imagination in a screen-dominated world.

preservation-schoolPhilly Preservation School

Friday October 7th: 9:00AM – 2:00PM

University of Pennsylvania
Meyerson Hall B2, 210 S. 34th Street

Admission is free. Registration required.

This day-long workshop, co-hosted by the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia and Baltimore Heritage, will provide tools, resources, and key strategies to local community advocates for taking proactive steps towards preserving historic landmarks in their neighborhoods.

park-towneApartment Walks – Home: Collaborative Interior Design Installation

Saturday October 8th – October 9th: 12:00PM – 6:00PM
Thursday October 13th: 6:00PM – 8:00PM
Friday October 14th: 6:00PM – 9:00PM
Saturday October 15th – October 16th: 12:00PM – 6:00PM

Park Towne Place, East Tower
2200 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Admission is free. No registration required

Textile designers, InLiquid artists, and local furniture stores take four vacant penthouse apartments at Park Towne Place and ponder the meaning of personal space through the creation of a conceptual life between four walls.

pearl-streetPearl Street Block Party

Saturday October 8th: 1:00PM – 5:00PM

Pearl Street Alleyway
1219 Pearl Street

Admission is free. No registration required.

Help paint a mural on Pearl Street while taking in live performances, music, and interactive artwork from local creators inside one of Chinatown’s coolest reactivated dead spaces.

37th-street-walkwayHome Is Where You Place It | An Interactive Experience

Monday October 10th: 5:00PM – 7:00PM

Innovation Plaza
9 South 37th Street

Admission is free. Registration required.

Take a stroll through Innovation Plaza and see the future of successful placemaking at work. The new gathering space was created by experience design and strategy firm Ex;it and landscape architects Andropogon Associates for uCity Square.

planphilly-rowhouseDAG and PlanPhilly Presents Design Matters: At Home in a Rowhouse

Thursday October 13th: 5:30PM – 8:00PM

WHYY Auditorium
150 N. 6th St., Philadelphia, PA

Admission is free. No registration required

Urban density issues and sustainable building practices put traditional rowhouse architecture in the hot seat with a discussion on the history of the Philadelphia icon and its role in 21st century home design.

mural-artsMural Arts & J2 Design | A First Look at a Fresh Look

Thursday October 13th: 6:00PM – 9:00PM

Admission is free. Registration required.

Join Mural Arts and J2 Design as they roll out a new rebranding campaign for the 30-year-old organization. This behind-the-scenes tour includes a discussion on the collaboration, an introduction to the month-long marketing campaign, and hands-on art-making for attendees.

schuylkill-yardsTown and Gown : Creating Schuylkill Yards” Arfaa Lecture Series sponsored by Drexel University’s Department of Architecture & Interiors 

Thursday October 13th: 6:30PM – 8:00PM

Mandell Theater
3201 Chestnut Street

Admission is free. No registration required

Earlier this year Drexel University unveiled plans for Schuylkill Yards, a phase of the Drexel-initiated Innovation Neighborhood. Will it ever be built? Who the hell knows! It’s a big, smart, deeply ambitious plan, and the renderings are awfully compelling. Come hear a group of architects and theorists discuss the role the designers and the university had in getting this first step of conceptual planning for Schuylkill Yards off the ground.

klingVincent Kling: Houses

Saturday October 15th: 2:00PM – 5:00PM

Line/Rogoff House
1424 West Flat Rock Road, Penn Valley

Admission: $25. Registration required.

Vincent Kling, head of the largest architectural firm in Philadelphia between the 1960s and 1970s, had a hand in shaping much of post-World War II Center City through large-scale urban reconfigurations and often severe modern architecture, much of which still informs our present-day landscape. This tour features three of Kling’s midcentury home designs—Line/Rogoff Residence (1954), Scull/Kron House (1952), and the Smith/Saul House (1959) and a discussion with his former studio associate Richard Farley to follow.


About the Author

Michael Bixler is a writer, editor, and photographer engaged in dialogue and documentation of the built environment and how it relates to history, culture, and the urban experience. He is the editorial director and chief photographer of Hidden City Philadelphia.

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