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Arts & Culture

Second Annual San Diego Design Week Looks To The Future

A drawing from "Build That Park!," a design competition and exhibition based on Friendship Park. A San Diego Design Week walkthrough of the exhibition will take place Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 at 1 p.m.
Courtesy of the Athenaeum
A drawing from "Build That Park!," a design competition and exhibition based on Friendship Park. A San Diego Design Week walkthrough of the exhibition will take place Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 at 1 p.m.

The five-day showcase of design is underway through Sunday, with panels, events, self-guided tours, outdoor installations and more.

This year's San Diego Design Week is built around the theme "Design=." It's something of an open-ended question, but with five days of tours, exhibitions, installations, workshops and talks, there are lots of ways to hunt for answers.

"It's kind of a play on last year's theme, which was 'Design+.' And that was really looking at how design shapes our region in so many different ways," said Stacy Kelley, program director for San Diego Design Week. "'Design=' is really looking at the potential of design to create change. And it's looking at design as being experimental, collaborative, interconnected and holding that potential to create change as we envision a new future and look forward," Kelley said.

It's a truly hybrid event, with in-person and virtual options — including the majority of the binational and Tijuana-based programs. San Diego and Tijuana are jointly shortlisted for the World Design Capital in 2024, and Design Week is an opportunity for creative exchange across the border.

Curated itineraries

"One great thing that came out of launching this during the pandemic was we really use the website as the venue, essentially. We have this amazing, comprehensive website now that we're building on this year," Kelley said. "One new thing that we added at the top of the programs page is the collections. These are collections that attendees can kind of jump into if they're looking for a place to start and get inspired on how to build their own personal itinerary."

One of these collections focuses on the future and urban planning, another on culinary design. There's a collection of bike tours or walking tours that explore public art, murals and architecture.

Another collection gathers all of the gallery, exhibition and museum programs, while another focuses on anything involving kids. Plus, you can find a set of virtual programs featuring design in Mexico, or selections specifically curated for students or designers looking to network.

Design Week also offers a set of programs that are pre-recorded, and viewable at any time.

Art highlights

Kelley pointed to several Design Week art programs, including a special extension of the Bread and Salt component of the SD Practice exhibition (the other half, at San Diego Art Institute, has since closed).

At the Mingei, SDDW's host, they are spotlighting the "Global Spirit" exhibition of folk art, and don't miss the twice-daily architect-led design tours of the museum this weekend.

Mingei architect Jennifer Luce echoed the historic building's architectural features when adding new entryways, including new public access from Balboa Park's Alcazar Garden.
Courtesy of Mingei International Museum
Mingei architect Jennifer Luce echoed the historic building's architectural features when adding new entryways, including new public access from Balboa Park's Alcazar Garden.

Work by Jean Cornell-Wheat is installed in an Art Power Equity exhibition at J. Walcher Communications, and Susan Merrit's typography prints will be on view at the Athenaeum Art Center Print Studio.

Thursday evening, Quartyard hosts a pop-up exhibition of photography and artwork based on stories about 2020.

Another is artist and designer Chitra Gopalakrishnan's augmented reality installation, concurrently on view outside at You Belong Here in City Heights and The Hill Street Country Club in Oceanside.

RELATED: 5 Works Of Art To See In San Diego In September

"Ultimately there are so many areas where art and design intersect. And it's a great opportunity at Design Week to see some of the artists that are getting involved with public art, and they're really thinking about the venue and how they're going to reach their audience and how they're going to share their message," Kelley said.

One such project is "Build That Park!" by architect James Brown. Kelley also said this project is an example of the ways sustainable and equitable design in the region needs to take a binational approach.

"I think that's one place where design really intersects with the collaboration from both sides of the border to create public spaces that really shape our region and way of life," Kelley said.

Brown's exhibition will be on view at the Athenaeum in La Jolla, with a guided walkthrough with Brown on Saturday from 1-3 p.m.

For collectors (or window shoppers), don't miss the Mod Swap open vintage market on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Barrio Logan, where you can browse, shop and trade. Saturday afternoon, hit up the City Heights Made fashion show at Fair@44, highlighting international clothing designers working in City Heights.

Another standout is the Beer Can Design Show, on view each day as an outdoor pop-up at Societe Brewing Company. It's curated by Tijuana-based designer Andrea Carrillo Iglesias and San Diego's Tyler Cristobal, and nods to how broad Design Week's scope can be.

San Diego Design Week program director Stacy Kelley in an undated photo.
Stacy Keck
San Diego Design Week program director Stacy Kelley in an undated photo.

"[Design] includes so many different disciplines, whether it's architecture or urban planning or landscape or technology. But I think that the thing that we all have in common is the design process and the approach to identifying a problem that needs to be solved and can be perhaps solved in a way that's more sustainable, and better serves the community," Kelley said.

Maps, schedules and registration are available at sddesignweek.org.