2018’s Top Portland Design Events

Portland Design Events 2018 Blog  Year in Review

As 2018 draws to a close, we look back on the past year of architecture and design events in Portland, celebrating all that we achieved as a community. Reading on, you’ll find both the top five event pages and top five articles published on Portland Design Events over the past year, as determined simply by page visits. Before we get into that, let’s take a quick look at the new events and exhibits that Portland gained in 2018.

Design Museum Portland headlines our list of innovators year after year – in 2016 for their Extraordinary Playscapes exhibit, in 2017 for their launch of Design Museum Mornings and publishing of Design & Play, and they made news yet again in 2018 with the launch and implementation of their Street Seats competitionStreet Seats began shortly after the new year with an open call for entries, attracting an impressive number of submissions from across the globe. The entries were shortlisted, announced amidst an expertly-curated display of models submitted to the competition, and the winning entries were constructed and installed in downtown Portland – currently on view and open through February 2019.

While Design Museum Portland pulled back the throttle on exhibits this past year in favor of the competition and other programs, Architectural Heritage Center whetted our exhibit whistle with the opening of two stunning exhibitions of their own. Selling the Rose City: Portland Souvenirs and the Imagery of Place took a playful look at the objects and items that have celebrated Portland as a place for the past hundred years. While that exhibit has recently closed, AHC has followed it up with another blockbuster exhibit celebrating storied Portland architect Will Martin, best known as the lead designer of Pioneer Courthouse Square. The Artistic and Eclectic Will Martin: Selected Works, 1957-1985 is open through July 27, 2019.

Portland also saw the launch of two new design initiatives in late 2018. The city was gifted with Sustainable Building Week in October, focusing on the mission to Keep Portland Green and designed in the mold of Design Week Portland, New York Fashion Week, and similar week-long festivals. The week overlapped with Portland’s first-ever Portland Textile Monthputting the spotlight on local textile designers and artists. Sustainable Building Week and Portland Textile Month both featured a range of events, lectures, open houses, films, panel discussions, and more.

2018 was a banner year for Portland Design Events in our own right, highlighted by our popular Lecture Series. We were proud to welcome Billie Faircloth (KieranTimberlake,) Michael Ford (in collaboration with AFO,) Martha Schwartz (Martha Schwartz Partners,) and Matthew Kreilich (Snow Kreilich Architects) as our star-studded 2018 lineup. The series continues to grow and evolve, and will continue to do so in 2019, as our annual series is announced and kicks off with architect Susan Jones in February.

Finally, Portland Design Events was proud to host the first ever Licensed to Party event, celebrating and honoring those architects, interior designers, and landscape architects who received their license or certification over the course of the past year.

Let’s turn our attention now to those events and articles that caught the most attention of our readers in 2018.


Portland Winter Light Festival

Image: Amy Sakurai/Portland Winter Light Festival

Top Events

1 | Portland Winter Light Festival 2018
In the third installment of this wildly popular event, the Portland Winter Light Festival lit up the town quite literally, brightening the otherwise gloomy dead of winter. From parades to art installations to dance parties (!!!,) this event just keeps getting better every year. 2018’s festival saw the event expand from its base at OMSI to several other locations around town, drawing an estimated 142,000 visitors, with over 173 public art installations, performances, and workshops. Look for the Portland Winter Light Festival to return in 2019, with full information available here.

2 | sourced
An annual event brand new to Portland, we were thrilled to see 2018 welcome the inaugural sourced tradeshow, organized by out friends at krowdsourced. The daylong event kicked off with an outstanding keynote breakfast, followed by seven continuing education courses complimented by over 70 vendors, tucked away in the Pearl’s cozy Pure Space. Sourced will return in 2019 with details forthcoming and a save-the-date of October 17th.

3 | Mid-Century Modern Tour 2018: John Storrs
A perennial highlight of Portland architecture events, Restore Oregon’s wildly successful Mid-Century Modern Tour returned in 2018, with a focus on the brilliant works of architect John Storrs. The event, which takes place in three parts over the course of a weekend, kicked off with a standing-room-only lecture at Oregon College of Art & Craft, outlining Storrs’ life and works. The self-guided tour continued the following day, when the doors were opened on five Storrs-designed homes for a rare glimpse inside. The weekend concluded with a phenomenal after-party as only Restore Oregon can arrange. The Mid-Century Modern Tour returns Mother’s Day weekend 2019 – stay tuned for details.

4 | Design Week Portland Opening Party 2018
Ain’t no party like a Design Week Portland Party, ‘cause a Design Week Portland Party don’t stop – at least not for a week, anyway. The opening party kicked off a week filled with hundreds of events, activities, open houses, panel discussions, and more, scattered far and wide throughout Portland. If you haven’t already, mark your calendars for DWP 2019, taking place April 6-13. Full information about events (and how YOU can participate!) is available on their website.

5 | CSI Portland Chapter Industry Forum 2018
Industry Forum, hosted by our friends at CSI Portland, is perhaps best known for bringing in star-studded keynotes each year, and 2018 was no different with San Francisco-based Allison Williams, FAIA headlining the event. Williams’ inspiring talk was just the capstone on an evening filled with education opportunities, networking, numerous vendors, and 5×10 presentations that were inspiring in their own right. Mixing in food, drinks, and door prizes (POWER TOOLS were given away!) this was easily one of the most memorable events of the year. Hats off to CSI, as always. The organization recently announced architect and planner Adèle Naudé Santos, FAIA, ARCUK as the 2019 headliner, with tickets on sale now.


Design Museum Portland Street Seats

Image: Design Museum Portland.

Top Articles

1 | Street Seats: Urban Benches for Vibrant Cities Semi-Finalist Announcement
Design Museum Portland snuck into our 2018 top five list of articles twice – once for their announcement of the Street Seats competition, and another for their announcement of the semi-finalists. The June announcement was widely-anticipated, following an exhibition of hundreds of models of proposed designs, submitted from all around the globe. Over the summer, the semi-finalist entrants constructed and installed their seats around Portland’s World Trade Center and Waterfront Park. The installations remain in place, on view through the end of February 2019.

2 | Restore Oregon Hosts 2018 Mid-Century Modern Home Tour Featuring the Work of John Storrs
Not only did the event page of this popular tour crack our top five list as mentioned above, but the announcement of the tour that we published a month prior to the event cracked our top five article list, as well! The post garnered wide interest from those interested in learning more about and attending the tour, and also served as a call for volunteers for the weekend. Volunteer opportunities are open once again for the upcoming tour, with a sign-up available over on the Restore Oregon website.

3 | New International Design Challenge for Innovative Outdoor Public Benches
The call for entries, our first post of 2018, drew interest from the Portland community for Design Museum Portland’s first ever Street Seats competition. The post helped to spread awareness of the competition, which ultimately attracted entries from 6 continents, 24 countries, and 22 U.S. states by design firms, students, and individuals. As previously mentioned, the winning entries have since been installed in downtown Portland, on view through the end of February 2019.

4 | Portland Welcomes its First Ever Sustainable Building Week
2018 saw the launch of Portland’s first-ever Sustainable Building Week, taking place this past fall. The week, similar to Design Week Portland, featured a range of events, lectures, tours, open houses, and more while all focused on the central theme to “Keep Portland Green.” The inaugural week saw an impressive list of participating individuals and organizations, spearheaded by a dedicated team of volunteers, ultimately leading to a successful week that continues to drive conversation and push the needle forward on sustainability in Portland and abroad.

5 | AFO Announces Dine & Design 2018
For the second year in a row, the announcement of the Architecture Foundation of Oregon’s Dine & Design series has cracked our annual top five list of articles – and with good reason. The series continues to be a hit with architects and designers across Portland seeking to gain exclusive and intimate access to some of Portland’s most beautiful and special spaces. Highlights of the 2018 series included a crawfish boil, party in a Storrs-designed masterpiece (a la Restore Oregon,) and a dinner in Portland’s newly designed Expensify space, which has since won several awards and gained national recognition.

As a successful 2018 draws to a close, we look ahead to a 2019 filled with organizations and individuals continuing to create and grow some of the best architecture and design-related events in the country. We also look forward to you (yes, YOU!) engaging in these events – learning about your community, engaging in discussions, sharing with your friends, and moving the needle forward to design a more beautiful, sustainable, regenerative, and inclusive environment for Portland and the world. We’re proud to be a part of it, and we can’t wait to see all that you accomplish in the coming year. We’ll see you there.



2017’s Top Portland Design Events
2016’s Top Portland Design Events



Cover image by Portland Design Events, with images courtesy Design Museum Portland, Amy Sakurai/Portland Winter Light Festival, krowdsourced, Restore Oregon, Sustainable Building Week, and Tim Niou.

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