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2021 Best of the Fest!

Not sure what to propose for the 2021 Seattle Design Festival?


Check out these examples of effective Built Installations from previous years, plus precedents of this year’s new offering — Pop-up Experiences! This is by no means an exhaustive list of things that have worked — it’s merely a sampling.

We invite problem solvers, innovators, and makers of all backgrounds and skill levels to submit a proposal. You don’t need to be a professional designer to propose a program or installation for the Seattle Design Festival.


Built Installations

The best installations promote a culture of collaboration, empower communities to leverage design, and demonstrate the relevance of design thinking. While this year may be more challenging than others, installations should help create a unique urban environment and focus on the entire visitor experience.

Festival-goers around wooden installation.Women in Architecture
Patano Studio SDF2017:POWER
The Design Festival’s prompt “Power” inspired the Patano Studio team to create a structure that manifests the position of women in the field of architecture, specifically the lack of women in higher-level architectural positions.

Young person painting muralWayfinders: A Community Mural
AIGA, SDF2014: Design in Motion
This community mural was designed as a way to connect art with design. Festival-goers worked to reveal the hidden message that was effectively created by everyone that added their mark to the canvas.

Changemakers Exhibition
AIGA, SDF 2015: Design for Equity
This installation used a dynamic three-dimensional display to address local food challenges. The use of squares to extend the design onto the ground could be reimagined to encourage physical distancing to help keep festival-goers 6 ft from each other.

Design Block Party 2014Wover
LMN, SDF 2014: Design in Motion
Wover, the woven rocker, was a community installation designed for public use, relaxation, and playful engagement.

Tiny house developed by Miller Hull, known as Mighty House.Mighty House
Miller Hull, SDF 2017: POWER
This was an exhibition of an open-source tool kit that enables everyday people to create shelter for individuals and families transitioning out of homelessness into a more stable housing situation.

2019 Seattle Design Festival Block PartyInfluence
HOK, Arup, Hoffman Construction, SDF 2019: Balance
A collaborative team of Architects, Engineers, Contractors, and Builders designed this installation to encourage participants to interact within an environment of sensorial disruption and forces them to find a new harmony with their surroundings.

Pop-up Experiences

Do you have a smaller project, an idea to share, or a design activity to lead? New to the festival this year, Pop-Up experiences are short-term engagements (30min-2hr) that require 30 minutes or less for set-up. Programming may include but are not limited to workshops, art projects, show and tell presentations, poster shows, demonstrations, STEM projects, interactive and participatory activities, the possibilities are endless!

Please see more information and guidelines in the 2021 Call for Proposals (coming soon!)

Repair Cycle
Repair Cycle, SDF 2019: Balance
The RepairCycle is a mobile, on-the-spot garment mending service and experience that brings the Seattle community together around the universal aspect of clothing—offering a functional service while creating connection and dialogue through a shared activity. *This experience was offered over the course of both days of the Block Party in 2019, which would qualify it as a “built installation.”

SDF 2020_Seattle Design NerdsPress to Express
Seattle Design Nerds, SDF 2020: About Time
A roving mobile printing press that asks “What is the change you want to see in the world?” and will allow anyone to make a placard or sign with words describing their past, present, and futures Join us to learn about DIY printmaking and self-expression all hosted from a bike trailer. *This could be offered as a Built Installation if facilitated for the duration of the Block Party.

South Lake Union Tour
Graphite Design Group and HEWITT Landscape Studio, SDF 2019:Balance
This tour of South Lake Union, which started from the Block Party, highlighted several recently-completed projects to explore the histories, ecologies, and ongoing evolution of the neighborhood.

Musicians near colorful sculptureJam Garden
Encore Architects and Seattle JazzED, SDF 2017:POWER
JazzED students performed live music to explore how we engage with sound.

Designing Social Dance
Leah Vendl, SDF 2015: Design for Equity
This hour-long intro to blues dance lesson covered the basics of partner dance (lead/follow dynamics, pulse, rhythm, etiquette) as a means to practice consent and break down assumptions about dance roles based on gender, etc.


Highlighting the value of your creative process

This year, we are asking that you explore how you can share your creative process with festival-goers so that others can gain insight into the efforts behind your built installation or pop-up experience. Think ‘behind the scenes’ in order to provide an educational experience. For example, you could share sketches, prototypes, photos or even a video of your process!

SABA Architects Time Well Spent - photo by Trevor DykstraTime Well Spent Trailer
SABArchitects, SDF 2020: About Time
This sneak peek trailer captures the design process, highlighting the unique challenges of collaborating in remote environments.

Behind the Design
Nike, Go FlyEase
The production value of this video may be a little intimidating, but it does a great job of articulating the design process.