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Interview with the 2021 SDF Planning Team

The Seattle Design Festival (SDF) was founded in 2011 to celebrate all the ways that design makes life better for Seattle, and to nurture relationships among designers, citizens, city leaders, and future-thinking business innovators. SDF is the largest design-related event in the Pacific Northwest, gathering 120+ partners and over 30,000 attendees to 80+ citywide events for the past 10 years. And we’re able to do this year-after-year because of the help of our generous volunteers.

The 2021 Festival Planning Team is made up of nine amazing volunteers who have spent the last seven months planning the 2021 SDF Block Party.

We’d love to hear about why you got involved in SDF— what’s your SDF backstory? 

Cal: I actually participated in the 2019 festival, where I had a built installation titled ‘Looking Forward’. As a first-year grad student at the UW, the SDF was a perfect space to explore materials and grow closer to the community. This past year, I wanted a new way to participate in the festival, and applied to be on the core team!

Yasir: I got involved in summer 2017 as a volunteer at the block party and got hooked ever since. As a foreign architect arriving to the states from Iraq in November of 2016, I was looking for a community that is enthusiastic and shares the same design values as myself, SDF was and still is everything that I looked for.

Matt: I worked in public policy and voter education for a long time. From that experience, I now believe design offers one of the best ways to advocate for meaningful change. A healthy design culture enables us to navigate complexity with compassion, encourages us to take responsibility for shared spaces, and inspires us to be courageous in naming our hopes and fears.

Adam: I’m a transplant to Seattle and I wanted to meet my design community. The festival gives me a chance to give back and get to know local designers

Shauna: I’m [also] a recent transplant from Detroit where my professional life allowed many creative outlets including Maker Faire Detroit and the Detroit Design Festival. I was looking for ways to get involved in Seattle creative and applied to volunteer with SDF.

Trevor: I was part of an early Seattle Pecha Kucha in 2010-2011 where Linda Norlen, the original director of the festival, came looking to recruit folks to help put on the inaugural festival. Another Pecha Kucha presenter, Jeremy Reding, and I ended up joining the fledgling committee as part of the ‘Design Hub’ team that year lead by Studio Matthews, I also volunteered as a street team member visiting local events and parties to spread the word about the festival and get folks interested. The Block Party (then called the Design Block) came a year later as the two of us, along with collaborator Jon Gentry, attempted to translate the intentions of that original hub into a takeover of public space.

What are you looking forward to most at the 2021 SDF Block Party?

Cal: I’m excited for this year’s new festival event, Pop-Up Experiences! I can’t wait to see what interactive programs that our partners put together for the festival.

Trevor: Hello World! by Isabella Ceriale, Isabella Gaule, Sophia Johnson, Peyton Todd, & Charmaine Yabut. While I love all the big and bold installations I have extra love for all the installations or experiences that come from individuals rather than organizations. That ad-hoc collaboration is what made the festival so special from the start and it’s great seeing it continue. That spirit of collaboration carries through into their proposal which will be asking attendees to share their experiences with others and collaboratively create works of art.

Adam: I’m [also] looking forward to ‘Hello, World!’ because I am really excited to see more students participate in the festival this year!


Join the Team!

The Seattle Design Festival is a volunteer-powered organization. Join the team and help us create a more livable Seattle through this shared vision, demonstration, and celebration! Sign up to help with Block Party install day logistics, staff the Block Party pavilion, marketing support* and more!