Design Philadelphia Returns October 10-14: Our Top Picks For Free Events During The City-Wide Festival

DesignPhiladelphia is a really exciting and important festival for the city, showcasing the key role design has played in the history of the region, and the import of recognizing design's role in our future. (Photo courtesy DesignPhiladelphia)

DesignPhiladelphia, the annual city-wide celebration honoring the vital role of design in the Philadelphia region, returns October 10-14.

The festival, now in its eighth year, is the nation’s largest of its kind. Over the course of the fest, 120 events take place all over the city, featuring the work of more than 450 national and international designers.

We highlighted 10 of the events we’re most excited about, and gave you some more details on the fun kick-off of DesignPhiladelphia, called PopUp Place.

Another way to slice and dice the myriad events and festivities on the schedule? Shining on a light on all that you can do during DesignPhiladelphia 2012 that’s completely free. And there’s plenty.

Check out our pocket guide to free events during DesignPhiladelphia:

• PopUp Place – the 2012 DesignPhiladelphia Festival kick-off partyWednesday, October 10, reception begins at 5:30 p.m., street party begins at 7:30 p.m, Provenance Architecturals, 912 Canal Street, $60-200 for benefit, free for street party.DesignPhiladelphia 2012 kicks off with a packed evening of design exhibitions, fashion showcases, food trucks, local beer and outdoor revelry, set on the fringe of Northern Liberties at Provenance Architecturals, a 10,000 square-foot salvage warehouse.

• Open AirSeptember 20-October 14, nightly 8-11 p.m., Benjamin Franklin Parkway; Project Headquarters: 24th Street and the Parkway, Free. Open Air, the giant 3-D light installation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, is affiliated with DesignPhiladelphia. Check out all of our coverage, including four detailed guides to where to watch, here.

Infill Philadelphia: Soak It Up: September 17-October 19, Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street, Free. Dive into an exhibition of great green designs that soak up stormwater and create engaging, beautiful, and fun places to be in the city. Co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Water Department, US Environmental Protection Agency and Community Design Collaborative, Infill Philadelphia: Soak It Up! aims to inspire a new wave of local projects that support Philadelphia’s innovative stormwater management plan.

Four Corners: Design from Philly Surrounds: Exhibition on view October 10-20, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Opening Party, Friday, October 12, 6-10 p.m., Minima, 118 N. 3rd Street, 2nd floor, Free. This exhibition, situating Philadelphia-made objects in a lived-in loft setting, demonstrates the possibility of living with all-local design. Four Corners is a window into Philadelphia’s current design identity and an answer to the question: What is Philadelphia design today? It’s curated by Royce Epstein and Caroline Tiger.

• Fast Forward >> What’s Next for Philly?Wednesday, October 10, 6-8 p.m., Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street, Free. A lineup of presenters from various creative backgrounds will Fast Forward through 20 slides at 20 seconds each to answer one question: What’s next for Philly? The conversation continues offstage at a happy hour.

Transformation/Underground Stations: Wednesday, October 10, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Spring Garden Subway Station, Broad and Spring Garden Streets, Free. Explore public art commissions at two subway stations with artists Margery Amdur, Robert Woodward/Peanutbutter and public art consultant, Marsha Moss. Ride the Broad Street Line to Spring Garden Station to experience Amdur’s 4,000-square-foot ground painting, Walking on Sunshine. Then hop back on subway to Girard Station and savor Woodward’s mega resin installation, Looking Glass.

reInspire: Art-from-the-Arts Design Challenge Week: October 10-14, reception Thursday, October 11, 5-9 p.m., The Resource Exchange, 2829 Cedar Street. Explore the weird and wonderful world of film and theater salvage at The Resource Exchange, where the materials they’ve saved from local productions become the inspiration for new creative works. They will introduce a new creative reuse design challenge every day during DesignPhiladelphia, and on Thursday, the warehouse will stay open after-hours for an evening of inspiration, conversation and libation.

Pan Am Blue and Powder Room Pink: How Chemistry Created Vintage Modern: Thursday, October 11, 6-7 p.m., Chemical Heritage Foundation, 315 Chestnut Street, Free. Award-winning design historian Regina Lee Blaszczyk will share research from her new book, The Color Revolution, which has garnered praise from the New York Times and Atlantic, to show how the Delaware Valley’s chemical industry collaborated with designers to create the chic modern style recently revived by TV shows like Mad Men and Pan Am. Book signing will follow.

Printing in the Open: Common Press: Thursday, October 11, 6-8 p.m., The Print Center, 1614 Latimer Street, Free. This one-night only, interactive printing event at The Print Center takes place in the garden, where you can help print unique designs inspired by the center’s op-art exhibition Color Motion: Edna Andrade Prints. BYO t-shirt, tote bag or bandana. Tote bags will also be available for purchase.

• CandyCoated Trunk Show in Rittenhouse SquareThursday, October 11, 5:30-6 p.m., Rittenhouse Square, Free. A trunk show will roll into Rittenhouse Square (literally: on a three-wheeled tricycle) featuring a collection of one-of-a-kind garments created with Lobo Mau. Models will promenade the Square’s walkways to showcase the clothes.

• The Creation of Ravenwood: M. Night Shyamalan’s HomeThursday, October 11, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street, Free. A classier version of MTV’s Cribs comes to Philadelphia with this Dialogues on Design lecture at the Center for Architecture. Ravenwood is the private residence of film director M. Night Shyamalan (Sixth Sense, Signs, Unbreakable), located in the outskirts of Philadelphia. The architect, Richard Cameron, has agreed to give a rare presentation of this work and share the timeless design methods employed in its creation.

More picks, below.

• Philadelphia’s Green Affordable Housing TourThursday, October 11, 4-5:45 p.m., Connelly House, 1212 Ludlow Street, Free. Join the Office of Housing and Community Development for a bus tour of recently completed and under construction developments with green and blue roofs, permeable paving, solar hot water systems and sustainable features reducing stormwater and heat island impacts. Meet the developers, architects and government officials making Philadelphia the “greenest city in America” through affordable housing development. RSVP to

Alternate Book Covers — Quirk Books and Drink Philly: Friday, October 12, 5-9 p.m., Drink Philly Headquarters, 239 Chestnut Street, Free. Join Quirk Books at the Drink Philly World Headquarters for a fun evening of book cover design. Quirk’s team of designers will show off a gallery full of alternate book covers, both actual designs that didn’t make the cut and totally new works inspired by older titles.

Fashion Styling Studio with Alice Selverian: Friday, October 12, 7-8:30 p.m., Three Sirens Boutique, 134 N. 3rd Street, Free. Stop into Three Sirens for an interactive fashion presentation with guest stylist Alice Selverian. Learn how to wear key trends for fall and create the looks for less with some fun styling do’s and don’ts. There will be promotions, prizes and an opportunity to get a style makeover.

Community Garden Design: Saturday, October 13, 10-11 a.m., Passyunk Gardens, Wharton and Passyunk Avenues, Free. Enjoy coffee, donuts and a guided tour of some of the unique features of Harry O’s Passyunk Gardens, including the green roof, tall raised beds and flower wall. Following the tour the group will discuss ways to start your own community garden, introduce you to tools for mapping out a growing season and talk about the challenges and benefits of different models for operating a community garden. RSVP here.

• Sustainable Streets Scavenger HuntSaturday, October 13, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Columbus Square Recreation Center, 1200 Warton Street, Free. Join The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and the Philadelphia Water Department for a Sustainable Streets Scavenger Hunt. Participants will be able to explore some of Philadelphia’s most innovative street design features from those that reduce storm-water overflow to those that protect Philadelphians as they cross, drive, or ride down our urban corridors.

• Green Wall Design: Saturday, October 13, 4-5:30 p.m., Urban Jungle, 1526 East Passyunk Avenue, Free. This demonstration will educate you on the intricacies of green wall design. You’ll be shown how to design, prepare and build a living green wall in your home or business. RSVP to

• VIADUCTgreeneSaturday, October 13, 3-5 p.m., Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill Street, Free.Through the Community Design Collaborative, VIADUCTgreene has teamed up with OLIN, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, CVM and VJ Associates to develop conceptual designs for a three-block section of the underground City Branch railroad that extends west from the elevated Reading Viaduct into public space. VIADUCTgreenewants your input; bring your ideas and be prepared to let your imaginations run wild. Snacks and bar, too.

The Switched-On Garden 002: Sunday, October 14, 2-8 p.m., Bartram’s Garden, 54th Street and Lindberg Boulevard, Free. Join Data Garden at the oldest surviving botanic garden in North America for an interactive exhibition exploring the relationship between plants, music and technology. Wander Bartram’s Garden and connect with your natural environment through live music, performance and sculpture that blurs the distinction between biological and digital worlds.

Want to see the full event listings? You can flip through the printed guidebook online, on theDesignPhiladelphia website. Or you can search by discipline and location using DesignPhiladelphia’s interactive guide.

Most importantly, stay tuned on Uwishunu for more updates as the festival approaches.

DesignPhiladelphia 2012
When: October 10-14
Where: All over the city
Cost: Mostly free
More info:


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