Seattle Design Festival Brings Artful Ideas to the Streets

The second annual showcase of our region’s graphic, interior, industrial and urban design talent.

“When used well, design can solve problems,” says Linda Norlen—and she has proof. The associate director of Design in Public (, a new nonprofit devoted to showcasing our region’s wealth of innovative architecture and graphic, interior, industrial and urban design, Norlen is helping to coordinate the organization’s second Seattle Design Festival (in partnership with several design groups, including the local chapters of the American Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Graphic Arts).

This year, the festival is centered at The Design Block, a cordoned-off area in South Lake Union (along John Street, between Ninth and Westlake) that features six cargo containers transformed into exhibit spaces, including: a pop-up retail shop for locally designed products; the FYI Poster Show, an “infographic” competition celebrating the intersection of typography and information; the Brainstorm Idea Cloud, an interactive lighting experience featuring designs for floating shelters; and an “urban intervention showcase,” in which local designers offer a playful take on outdoor space.

Outside The Design Block, festivalgoers can attend design lectures, tours and films, and witness designers in the act of solving problems, such as in a competition for making use of the 33 floating concrete pontoons that will be left after the S.R. 520 bridge is overhauled. If you can’t get to everything your well-designed heart desires, don’t fret: Design in Public plans to offer new events throughout the year.

9/20–9/23. Times, prices and locations vary.