​Connection and Collaboration IRL: When talent meets opportunity at DESIGN WEEK RI


​Connection and Collaboration IRL: When talent meets opportunity at DESIGN WEEK RI

Can DESIGNxRI and DESIGN WEEK RI help improve our state’s health care system? Okay, maybe that’s a bold claim (hey, we’re not ruling it out), but DxRI did play a role in the development of Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI’s latest Your Blue Store in East Providence.

Back in 2013, a group of local designers, architects, and other creative professionals were brainstorming the ideas that became DESIGN WEEK RI. That group included Christine West of KITE Architects, interior designer Kelly Taylor, and then-president of AIGA RI Philip Hawthorne.

Fast forward a few years, and Hawthorne is now the Creative Director for BCBSRI. When it came time to design and build the company’s latest retail location, Philip thought of his old friends from DWRI. The photo above represents the collaboration of Philip, Christine, and Kelly, and is a physical manifestation of the creative energy that DWRI is fostering in the local design community.

For a more “interactive and experiential” example of the kind of collaborations that can be born at DxRI, look no further than this year’s Kick-off Party on Friday, September 15. This is just the second time we’re having an official kick-off celebration and these parties only happen because a group of designers from our programs digs in and gets excited about it. This year’s party, IMMERSE: An Interactive and Experiential Extravaganza, is the work of Manuel Cordiero from Designer151, Jae Willard from Jae Willard Design, and Nic Skappaticci from Tellart, who all met through our Design Forward program.

The makers behind Nest Homeware, Oblique Studio, Studio Endo, and Work-Shop Design Studio also connected through one of our programs, the PVD Design Catalyst. Now they’re celebrating the first anniversary of their shared shop space, Elmwood Studios – and you’re invited to see how their collaboration came to life. They’ll be hosting an evening Open House on Saturday, September 16.

We see these kinds of connections happening all around us during DESIGN WEEK RI, and they result in new opportunities and collaborations after. Surfboard designer and RISD grad Kevin Cunningham was commissioned for a furniture project based on his participation in the first DWRI. After first sponsoring DWRI and attending events in 2015, Bradford Soap Works discovered – and hired – There Will Be Cake, a local boutique stationery company. Carrie Chatterson of CC:S, a graphic design firm, hosted an Eat & Speak lunch at her studio last year – and hired an employee through meeting them that day.

It’s not just designers and potential customers finding new connections at DWRI, either. The media is finding stories there, too. The Providence Journal profiled interior designer Kyla Coburn after she received the Emerging Designer Award at our RI Design Hall of Fame ceremony in 2015. Landscape designer Louis Raymond also found himself in the Projo’s spotlight after participating in DWRI. (If you missed it last year, Louis is hosting again this year.) Providence Business News is getting in on the act, too: they discovered industrial designer Lukas Sheurer and interior designer and RI Design Hall of Fame inductee Nancy Taylor at DWRI.

Opportunities abound at DESIGN WEEK RI – not just to have fun, share ideas, and meet new people, but maybe to find your next customer, collaborator, or employer.