DesignPhiladelphia demonstrates, supports, and promotes the ability that design has to generate innovation, solve problems, enhance daily life and influence both the perception and economics of the region.
Through the breadth of our events, DesignPhiladelphia showcases the role that design has played historically in this region, and celebrates Philadelphia’s contemporary significance as a center for creative advancement.
DesignPhiladelphia brings together individuals and organizations from across the design spectrum, building valuable community relationships. Year-round programming has included a lecture series on innovation, temporary pop-up shops, competitions, panel discussions for the creative and curious community, special events, and more.
For the past nine years, DesignPhiladelphia has produced a nationally recognized, open participation Festival. Like all DesignPhiladelphia programming, the Festival offers a view into Philadelphia’s creative industries at work. During the Festival, over 100 events take place city-wide with more than 400 participating designers. A vast majority of Festival events are free and all are open to the public. Programming is a dynamic mix of open studios, exhibitions, lectures, runway shows, tours, workshops, and the like, that take place in boutiques, galleries, museums, universities, warehouses, and city streets.
The DesignPhiladelphia initiative unites the creative disciplines – from architecture to interior design, fashion to product design, multi-media to graphic design – reinforcing the message that Philadelphia is a rich resource for creativity, innovation and cultural vibrancy.
In 2013, DesignPhiladelphia will continue to expand programming, in addition to collaborating with partner organizations on design-centric events. Past partners have included the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy at the University of the Arts.
Philadelphia’s Design History
The current design scene didn’t evolve in a vacuum. Philadelphia’s rich design heritage continues to inform and shape it.
Following the Civil War, Philadelphia was known as the “the workshop of the world,” a design and production powerhouse. From the late 1800s to early 1900s, Philadelphia was filled with factories and workshops churning out everything from lace to steam engines. The industrial base was wide. At the end of the 19th century, the US Census listed 300 categories of industrial activity, and 90% of these were represented in Philadelphia.
A century later many of these factories and mills had stopped producing and the city’s reputation for industrial greatness virtually disappeared. But the city’s identity as a hub for creative activity never vanished – instead it was transformed. After a period of dormancy, Philadelphia began to grow into what it is today: a wellspring for design education, innovation, and vibrancy.
Founding Director // firstname.lastname@example.org
Hilary Jay is a curator, design journalist, entrepreneur, and adopted Philadelphian. As the Director of the Philadelphia Center for Architecture and Founding Director of DesignPhiladelphia, she spreads the gospel of design by creating accessible city-wide programming.
Hilary first entered the design world as a maker. In the glorious 80s, she co-founded Maximal Art with John Wind, an international costume jewelry, watch, and home furnishings company. The handmade work can be found in the permanent collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, the Swarovski collection of 20th-century jewels, and on the bodies and in the homes of some seriously stylish people worldwide.
Hilary moved into journalism in the 90s. In her writing and editorial work, she explored how and why design influences the way we live, work, and play (much as she does now through DesignPhiladelphia). For a decade, she worked as a writer and editor with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Art & Antiques, I.D., Modernism, and Metropolitan Home, among others.
As a curator, Hilary takes design and makes it experiential and easy for people to interact with. Before moving to UArts in 2010, she founded The Design Center at Philadelphia University, where she curated numerous ground-breaking exhibitions including What Is Design Today? and Lace in Translation.
Today, Hilary lives and works in Center City Philadelphia. On her walk to the office, she found that the city has four natural advantages: variety, convenience, discovery, and opportunity, and that everything should be done to protect these advantages. Everything.