New York’s Annual Celebration of Design

The two week festival organises over 400 events, art installations, exhibitions, discussion panels, trade shows, open studio visits, and product launches across the city’s five boroughs.

Even after six years, NYCxDESIGN is still the best event to get a sense of the breadth of the design industry in New York. Each year, local and international designers are invited to the citywide showcase of creativity to inspire, educate, and advocate. The festival, which take place in May, is organised by some of New York’s top design institutions, curators, schools, design media, entrepreneurs, and creative minds. In parks, in galleries, in storefronts, and on the streets, design is everywhere, and most of it is free.

NYCxDESIGN photo of the city

NYCxDESIGN photo of the city

Those who like architecture and interior design can take guided tours of soon to be completed projects created by renowned designers. Furniture designers use the festival as a way to show off their creations to a larger audience. Academics and industry thought-leaders participate in discussion panels about substantive issues, such as inclusivity,  sexual harassment, and female empowerment.

For those who like to see the work of emerging designers, there are plenty of premieres, like LA-based Tanya Aguiñiga first solo show at the Museum of Arts and Design, or debuts of new work by young designers, such as Lani Adeoye. If you fancy street art, there is no shortage of that too, including a 40 metre high mural by Camille Walala. Under the umbrella of NYCxDESIGN, are also other big design events happening at the same time, such as the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), Wanted Design, and TECH+.

The 2017 Design Pavilion in Times Square Source-design-pavilion.com

The 2017 Design Pavilion in Times Square Source-design-pavilion.com

Installation view of Tanya Aguiniga Craft & Care_Photo by-Jenna Bascom_Source-madmuseum.org

Installation view of Tanya Aguiniga Craft & Care_Photo by-Jenna Bascom_Source-madmuseum.org

Lani Adeoye launched her Talking Stools by_Source-studio-lani.com

Lani Adeoye launched her Talking Stools by_Source-studio-lani.com

A seven story mural by Camille Walala_Photo by-Industry City

A seven story mural by Camille Walala_Photo by-Industry City

A seven story mural by Camille Walala_Photo by-Industry City

A seven story mural by Camille Walala_Photo by-Industry City

For the third year in a row, a Design Pavilion was built in Times Square as an information, installation, and market space of NYCxDESIGN. It serves as a public engagement space and beacon for the festival in a highly visible and famous area of New York. Art installations inside and on the plaza of the Design Pavilion are used to advocate for the importance of a well designed built environment for all people, to educate the community on the value of design, to inspire creativity in people from other industries, and to introduce products to the public created by local designers.

The 2018 Design Pavilion in Times Square Image -design-pavilion.com

The 2018 Design Pavilion in Times Square Image -design-pavilion.com

The 2018 Design Pavilion in Times Square Source-design-pavilion.com

The 2018 Design Pavilion in Times Square Source-design-pavilion.com

“Our future will be shaped, in many ways, by design’s response to the challenges of the 21st century,” said Harry Allen, Creative Director of Design Pavilion, back in April 2018 when the pavilion’s programming was announced. “The theme for Design Pavilion 2018, ‘From This Day Forward,’ is meant to encourage many perspectives, and we are very excited about this year’s thoughtful and varied participants. From school-generated projects, to more established visions, to graphic solutions, the installations represent the potential of design to re-shape our world.”

Although New York is one of the world’s three major centres for capital, along with London and Tokyo, local public officials know the value that art, design, and creativity bring to the city. “The city’s design industry is creating good-paying jobs for a wide range of New Yorkers throughout the creative ecosystem,” said the President and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, James Patchett, before the festival began. “The next two weeks of programming are sure to deliver a strong stimulus for the city’s economy.”

The 2018 Design Pavilion in Times Square Source-design-pavilion.com

The 2018 Design Pavilion in Times Square Source-design-pavilion.com

The 2018 Design Pavilion in Times Square Source-design-pavilion.com

The 2018 Design Pavilion in Times Square Source-design-pavilion.com

People continue to visit NYCxDESIGN so that they can see the unexpected. In 2017, over 340,000 visitors came to the festival, spending $67 million US in the city during that time. Given these numbers, and the fact that the festival has only been around for six years, starting with just a handful of days, and becoming the two week showcase that it is now, it is easy to see why city officials believe so strongly in its existence. The significance of the festival is undeniable, as is the value that the design industries bring to New York as a whole.

“The meteoric rise of NYCxDESIGN to global prominence has been instrumental in bringing many thousands of additional architects, designers, developers, and high wealth design lovers into New York City,” said Kevin O’Keefe, Event Director of ICFF. Of the over 50 large design weeks and festivals held annually worldwide, NYCxDESIGN is one that should be high on the list of anyone who likes to feed their design curiosity while on vacation.

Words Phil Roberts


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