The 2022 Seattle Design Festival was all about CONNECTION. When thinking about design, there is something very tangible and physical in how things ‘connect’ – but there is also something very emotional that ‘CONNECTION’ taps into as well. CONNECTION is a core human need. Our brains are wired to connect. We look and long for social CONNECTIONs. We strive to understand how parts connect to form a larger whole. In a world that is increasingly experiencing disconnection, how can design affirm and strengthen critical connections within our community?
The 2022 Festival, August 20-26, kicked off with the SDF Block Party at Lake Union Park and featured in-person and virtual experiences throughout the week.
2021 was the year of EMERGE. Our community gathered at Lake Union Party on August 21 &22 for a two-day Block Party to explore what we, as a community, are emerging to as our community heals – as we navigate changed perspectives- and as we think about new ways to leverage design.
The Seattle Design Festival turned 10! Our anniversary came at a pivotal moment in time. This year’s theme, About Time, sought to ponder past, present and future at a unique moment of transition for the city, the region and the world. Instead, it presently confronts the reality of a global public health crisis and the need to address and dismantle racist systems. Priorities are shifting, and the way that we collaborate has changed. It is About Time for real, meaningful change. We worked to re-imagine this year’s Festival, shifting to a virtual format to keep our partners and festival-goers safe, August 15 – 23, 2020.
2019 was the year of BALANCE. From August 16 – 25, the Seattle Design Festival brought together groups, organizations, and individuals from our region and across the globe to explore the role of BALANCE in design. BALANCE asks how design can foster a society that balances the needs of all of its people and the planet. With dozens of events created by leading local arts, architecture, design, urban planning, education, environmental, and technology organizations, the Seattle Design Festival combines a broad range of voices to explore how we can use design to build a more balanced society.
2018 was the year of TRUST. From September 6-21, the Seattle Design Festival brought together groups, organizations, and individuals from our region and across the globe to explore the role of TRUST in design. In a world that appears increasingly defined by mistrust, how can design, affirm, and strengthen critical connections of trust in our community? Can design promote a willingness to trust someone different from ourselves?
The 2017 Seattle Design Festival was September 9-22, 2017. The theme, POWER, reflected on our rapidly changing world and our values as individuals and as a community, reasserting our commitment to civic responsibility. Will our current climate of uncertainty erode justice and equity, or be a renaissance of civic action and fairness? Will we leave people at the margins behind, or will we fight to elevate them?
The 2016 Seattle Design Festival was September 10-23, 2016. The theme, Design Change, proposed that design can maximize the public benefits of change, while empowering those communities most impacted by that change. In Seattle, a place experiencing tremendous change, 2016’s Festival investigated and celebrated the role of design in an evolving place. What does design offer us at this critical time? What new and provocative solutions might exist as a result of design thinking?
The 2015 Seattle Design Festival was September 12-25, 2015. The theme, Design for Equity, created pause and reflection on: What is equity? What is equitable design? How do we know that a design is equitable? Is it process or product or both? It stretches across sectors – social justice, urban planning, ecology, and finance to name a few – and brings up ideas of dialogue, form, transparency, access, inclusion and investment. Design for Equity challenges us to question our biases and assumptions and inspire us to work toward ensuring that everyone in our society – from every background, ability, race, age, gender, location or economic status – can access the same opportunities and outcomes, both now and in the future.
The 2014 Seattle Design Festival, Sept. 5-19th, 2014, brought together designers, businesses, families, community groups and tourists alike to playfully explore all the diverse and meaningful ways design moves us. SDF 2014’s theme, Design in Motion, took on all creative interpretations—from mobility to kinetics and everything in between. From place to place, frame to frame, present to future – design is the vehicle of innovation.
SDF 2013’s theme, Design in Health, explored the connection between your health and the design of the city; health and sense of well-being being positively impacted by better design; and the city as an urban playground for all ages.
SDF 2012’s theme Engage Your World explored ways in which design can improve and increase our interactions with the urban environment.
The first annual Seattle Design Festival initiated a public conversation in our city about how good design can have a positive effect on life in general and on urban life in particular. With the theme Beneath the Surface, the intention was to reveal the role of design of all disciplines in our everyday lives and bring to light the unseen world of design around us.