The Seattle Design Festival Explores Where Art and Life Meet

More than 100 citywide events celebrate design's reach and power to do good
| Updated: August 13, 2019
Participants at the 2018 Seattle Design Festival Block Party

The chair you’re sitting in, the screen you’re reading this on, the coffee cup or tequila bottle you just sat down: Design is the art that touches not only all other arts, but (unless you’re a cave-dwelling hermit) practically your every waking moment. Just a few titles plucked from the ninth Seattle Design Festival’s packed lineup of tours, exhibits, outdoor installations, activities, interactive workshops and more illustrate its scope—and that of design itself:

Amadi: Empowering Women in Afghanistan 
Prestige Builds Justice! 
Symphony for Climate Change 
Language of Aroma: Designing for Inclusivity 
Death With Perpetual Life: Human Decomposition Revealed 
Paint Bricks

Revealed at an August 8 open house at the Center for Architecture and Design, this Bumbershoot of design runs August 16–25, its theme “Balance” and its stated mission to “celebrate all the ways that design makes life better for Seattle.” The Festival’s most accessible events for the novice, probably, will be the two neighborhood “Design Crawls” on Capitol Hill (August 17) and Georgetown (August 22), each featuring about a dozen open studios, art installations, and other activities. The free Block Party (August 24–25, 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Lake Union Park) is described as a “pop-up design playground” with offerings from more than 40 design teams.

Death With Perpetual Life, for example, is an installation by Think Outside the Park, a group of UW students, honoring and explaining the recent trend toward human composting (Washington is the first state to legalize it, btw) and other sustainable death practices, “inspired by the ecological idea that an organism takes from the system while living and gives back through mortality.” Paint Bricks, also viewable at the Block Party, is not a verb and an object, it’s an adjective and a noun—Urban ArtWorks’ exhibit of bricks made of paint. Cast from hardened paint and usable for other design projects, it’s a way to use old paint that is otherwise nearly impossible to dispose of in an environmentally friendly way.

Part of the Georgetown Crawl, the free presentation Amadi: Empowering Women in Afghanistan (3–8 p.m., Brume by Adorn, 1200 S. Angelo St., Suite B), tells of a West Hollywood business, Amadi Carpets, that opened a weaving workshop for women in the owners’ hometown of Kabul, Afghanistan. Overcoming obstructive opposition by locals, the shop now employs 120 women, enabling them to earn an income and achieve new independence—and their children to attend school. And the Symphony for Climate Change (August 17, 4–7 p.m., Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, 5011 Bernie Whitebear Way) is a free double bill of environmentally aware performance pieces: composer/conductor Christophe Chagnard’s Terra Nostra, a half-hour music/film/poetry work about climate change that premiered in June 2015, and EarthQuake by the Khambatta Dance Company.

Complete information about these events and every other aspect of the Festival can be found on its (beautifully designed) website,

Related Content

Your weekly guide to Seattle’s hottest (virtual) events

Fill your calendar with these online events to fill the hole in your live-performance-loving heart

Your weekly guide to Seattle's hottest (virtual) events

Find a guide to the night sky under your feet in West Seattle