Celebrating Design with Boston Design Week 2015
There are so many diverse creative industries out there that fall under the classification of “design.” All types of design inspire me — architecture, interior, fashion, jewelry — you name it, although my focus happens to be in graphic design with a background in the arts. So when I heard that Boston Design Week 2015 would be a city-wide festival lasting 10 days with 80+ events, exhibitions, workshops, gallery talks, and behind-the-scenes tours, I signed myself up!
Many local design organizations sponsor, support, or participate in the event in some way. Tony Fusco, co-producer of the event shared that, “The vision is to encourage the public to explore architecture, environmental and landscape design, urban design, interior design, fashion, graphic design and photography, product and industrial design, and studio design such as furniture, decorative arts, sculpture, textiles, jewelry and more.”
One fantastic event I enjoyed attending with fellow Jackrabbit co-workers was the AD 20/21 – Art & Design of the 20th & 21st Centuries and The 16th Annual Boston Print Fair held at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts in the South End. Approximately 50 galleries set up shop in the unique Cyclorama space, offering for sale modern and contemporary art, mid-century furnishings as well as contemporary studio furniture, jewelry, decorative arts and sculpture. The Boston Print Fair featured works on paper such as fine prints and drawings.
A favorite discovery of mine at AD 20/21 was seeing a collection of original oil paintings by artist John Gilroy, on display by New York antique dealer, Robert Lloyd. Gilroy’s popular Guinness beer posters are some of the most recognized alcoholic-beverage advertisements of the mid-20th century. These were the original oil-on-canvas paintings, which were created by Gilroy as proofs for the ad agency S.H Benson. You could actually see Gilroy’s rough pencil sketches on the textured canvas to plan the typography and images. I’ve only ever seen the very commonly reproduced prints of these ads, never the originals. So it was fun and inspiring to see these old-school advertisements up close and in person!
Stand-Out Speaking Event
One speaking event I enjoyed, also held at the Cyclorama and was co-sponsored by AIGA Boston and Design Museum Boston, was one by Adam Connor of Mad*Pow called Discuss Design Without Losing Your Mind. Obsessed with the creative process, Adam’s presentation dove head first into the critique process. He explained how critique is about the iteration and improvement to design. It’s really the core of creative collaboration. It’s a crucial part of doing your best work to solve specific design challenges. Adam also shared guidelines for giving and receiving critique. Learning to effectively discuss creative objectives and taking part in critique is important. It can benefit anyone who is looking to improve his or her work or the work of the team. If you’re interested in the slides of this presentation or other presentations by Adam Connor, check them out here.
Curated Showing of MFA’s Collection of Design Drawings
Finally, one other fantastic event I thoroughly enjoyed was called Highlights from the MFA’s Collection of Design Drawings. For this event I went to the Morse Study Room for Prints and Drawings at the Museum of Fine Arts, which is considered one of the world’s major print rooms in terms of size and quality. The MFA Curator of Design, Meghan Melvin, greeted me at the door. I enjoyed Miss Melvin’s knowledge of the artwork and the variety of unique selections that she shared with us. My session was a very small group of only four people. This allowed me to really get up close with these one-of-a kind drawings from the MFA’s collection. The curator specially selected these pieces for us to view!
One of the pieces I was able to see was fashion drawings by Kenneth Paul Block. Another was a 1927 Liberty Magazine cover art by Frank Lloyd Wright. The curator also set out for us to view some beautiful artwork for French textile patterns and wallpapers. We were able to see detailed furniture sketches and blueprints for Irving & Casson-A.H. Davenport. Some of these works are shown for only brief periods and then retired from viewing because they are so sensitive to the damaging effects of light. One of the unique advertising pieces I observed was called Machinery. This was a 1951 painting on paper by artist Clarence Holbrook Carter. It was for an ad for The National City Bank of New York. We were able to view both the original study painting created as well as the actual final printed version of the advertisement for comparison!
Overall, it was an inspiring week of events! The fact that Boston has made Design Week an annual event is fantastic. It’s important to recognize the vital role that design plays in our lives. And also important to attract new audiences to such a wide array of design industries.
What were your favorite events of Boston Design Week 2015? Feel free to share below! I’m already looking forward to seeing what is in store for the event next year!