There’s a new kid on the design-fest block this week. Say hello to the Washington, D. C. International Design Festival, which kicks off on Thursday, February 21, and runs through Sunday, May 19. The festival, a joint effort presented by the arts organizations Apartment Zero and Artisphere, features a major exhibition along with a great assortment of public programs that take stock of the state of industrial design in the early 21st century.
Why D.C. and why now? For Douglas Burton, the co-owner of Apartment Zero, it’s a natural fit. “It’s always been surprising to me to compare the size of Metro D. C. to other major metropolitan areas through the country and find that we have the second highest density of residential design showrooms, architecture firms, commercial furniture showrooms and published interior designers after New York City,” he says. “You can find almost any item being created around the world presented right here in your own hometown. We may not know it, but many of the design decisions that are seen throughout the world start right here. With so many industry groups and associations based here, why not take advantage of this unique city and create a program that brings so many of them together?”
At the heart of the multi-disciplinary festival is the exhibition The Next Wave: Industrial Design Innovation in the 21st Century, an exploration of design in the first 13 years of the century curated by Burton and produced in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute and Spain Arts & Culture, the Embassy of Spain and the Spain USA Foundation’s cultural program. Highlighted will be prototypes, one-offs and production pieces from Europe and the United States, all displayed across a 4,000-square-foot exhibition space.
“It is an opportunity for people to come together to celebrate something we all have in common: a love for beauty, whether that exists in the end with products being clever, useful, or unusual. Having an event like this in the capital region helps solidify Washington, DC as a leader in the field of design. It is a natural fit with the vibrant design scene across the area, which is already known for its outstanding visual art, theatre, dance and experimental arts. The Next Wave will enrich the DC region, allowing residents to celebrate design in a way that many major cities have not examined,” says Burton. So if you’re in D.C. or have plans to be over the next few months, be sure to check out the Design Festival’s happenings—it promises to be a major addition to the scene.