by Jerry ElengicalMar 14, 2022
This fall the Boston Design Week 2021 was a special season between September 17 - October 16, 2021. Featuring over 50 in-person, virtual and outdoors events, under the theme Fall Into Art and Design, the three-week design festival presented a range of programs. Produced by Tony Fusco and Robert Four, of Fusco & Four/Ventures, the Boston Design Week has grown over the past eight years. With interviews with celebrated architects and designers and panel discussions on a range of topics, the design week looked to expand the contemporary discourse. Fusco spoke of this special iteration saying, "We want Boston Design Week to be known as a portal to all things art and design. Our Partner Events are simultaneously offering hundreds of art and design events." The programme included virtual and in-person design tours, museum exhibitions and workshops. The Boston Design Week's mission is to increase public awareness and appreciation of all aspects of design, fostering recognition of the vital role design plays in lives. Each year the festival tries to reach out to and bring new audiences to a wide array of design industries and organisations.
Considering the shelter in place condition most large cities have had to endure in 2020 and most of 2021, the value of public, green, and open spaces has perhaps become hard to ignore. Several events were held outdoors, including the Plein Air Painting in Boston's Public Garden hosted by artist Stan Moeller and Heidi M Lorenz. The two artists demonstrated two very different subjects. Moeller is known for his paintings of people and city scenes, while Lorenz is better known for her depictions of farm animals. Plein air, which means open-air, denotes a manner of painting rather than style. Gaining popularity in 19th century France, the term refers to the act of painting outdoors and was a central affect of French Impressionism.
Inside looking out
Boston as a city has a robust range of American architecture, from Georgian architecture to the modern structure by Paul Rudolf and IM Pei. The city is also home to a unique set of Art Deco buildings, which feature both phases of the movement. The earlier, more elaborate French style of Art Deco, and its later streamlined Moderne phase, both find a place in the Boston skyline. Tony Fusco presented a virtual tour that highlighted examples of buildings that were preserved, demolished, and some which were never completed. Using the rising popularity of virtual tours to explore the built and unbuilt, the tour explored the origins and development of the Art Deco style, how to recognise it, hallmarks of the style in architecture, as reflected in the design of the buildings.
One of the key aspects of the design week was a diverse set of discussions and interactions that were digital. The digital medium facilitated the possibility to platform key speakers from across America and the world. The panel discussion titled the New Traditionalists brought together three noted designers, namely Allison Caccoma from San Francisco, Tiffany LeBlanc from Boston, and Ashley Whittaker from New York. The three designers are known for combining their classic taste with their new ideas and details, and the session was opened up to the attendees to consider the larger aesthetical trends of detail and colour.
Covering a large spectrum of subjects, another discussion explored the economic impact of design and design festivals on the hosting city. Andrew Graves, Director of Ortus Economic Research (UK) was interviewed by Amit Gupta, Founder and Editor-in-Chief STIR, to decipher this pertinent question.
Celebrated interior designer Philip Mitchell, who is known for his maximalist style, spoke to Kyle Hoepner about his creative outlook. The conversation explored Mitchell's ability to create deeply personal spaces through the use of elements such as scale, shape, colour, texture, and material. Architect Hiroshi Okamoto, a founding principal of OLI Architecture, and photographer Peter Vanderwarker engaged in a discussion on OLI's projects and their existence both as a place to house art and as an object art themselves. Okamoto notably apprenticed with IM Pei before starting his firm. Recordings of these talks and more have been online and can be revisited here.
Being an active member of World Design Weeks, an international coalition of more than 30 design festivals around the world, the Boston Design Week invited six other art and design festivals to cross-promote their September and October events, linking website visitors to a multitude of events that expand beyond the physical boundary of their geography. Some of the festivals involved include Design Edge, Design Week Rhode Island, Atlanta Design Festival, Boston Fashion Week, Cape Ann Plein Air Festival, Design Week Mexico and the Fenway Alliance's 20th anniversary 'Opening Our Doors' festival.