Design Philadelphia Celebrates the City's Many Creative Talents

By PW Staff
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Oct. 10, 2012

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Editor's Note: Every year, I find myself looking at the calendar, wondering if it’s time yet for Design Philadelphia. The hundreds of creative professionals around the city who join in the festival’s jam-packed days full of exhibits, discussions and lectures—sharing their work as well as their perspectives on what it means to practice design in this city—span a ridiculous range of specialties. Architects. Fashion designers. Engineers. Bookmakers. Even mixologists get in on it, because yes, damn it, drinks need designing.

Those who missed the Design Philadelphia event short-list in last week’s PW will find the entire five-day festival lineup online at A few highlights worth mentioning: the official festival kickoff party tonight (Wednesday) at Provenance Architecturals, where a free and open street party from 7:30 to 10 p.m. includes live music, a sustainability exhibit and a fashion show. Then there’s the Hacker Masquerade DIY Mask Workshop, 7 p.m. Thursday at the Hacktory, teaching all Halloweeners how to wire up their costumes in maximum high-tech awesometry. And our feature story samples some of the civic-minded projects on display Thursday night at Philly Works’ Qualities of Life in Philadelphia exhibit. 

Of course, PW’s very mission is one of interactive design: We try to give readers the information they need to design their own week in the city, every week. So this particular week is kind of meta for us. See you in the galleries. —Stephen H. Segal

The five-day Design Philadelphia festival encompasses disciplines as disparate as fashion, vehicular engineering, children’s playtime and urban planning—all woven together by the common thread that the physical forms of things in the city can serve aesthetics as well as a practical function.

One specific initiative serves as an effective microcosm of the whole festival: Philly Works’ Qualities of Life in Philadelphia showcase, an exhibit and book collecting creative design projects that explore unexpected ways to make our urban experience more pleasant. On the following pages, we present an excerpt from Qualities of Life; see more at the book’s release party at the Philadelphia Art Alliance on Thurs., Oct. 11, and find 100 more exciting design events happening this week at


Designers : Elissa Meyers and Mira Sophia Adornetto

Collaborators : Andrew Dahlgren, ADMK; Robert Blackson, Tyler School of Art Gallery.

Designers’ statement : The idea for BLUEREDYELLOW came out of research into the sustainable textile industry. This research indicated that the topic of coloring textiles was not satisfactorily covered. If we want to put organic food and clean water into our bodies ... wouldn’t we also want to put non-toxic clothing on our bodies? Not just organic fibers but organic colors as well. After all, how non-toxic is an organic fiber coated in a synthetic dye? Inspired by an internship at ASK Apparel (now Southern Hues), Elissa Meyers began to create BLUEREDYELLOW. While shaping the project she met Mira Sophia Adornetto, who was immediately smitten. With the help of a grant awarded by the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy, they launched BLUEREDYELLOW as a business. The business was based on the simple concept of employing sustainable methods to create natural products by using locally grown natural dye plants. Over the past three years the pair have experimented with growing and collecting different plant species in various parts of Philadelphia and testing simple, non-toxic mordants. As BLUEREDYELLOW they have made and sold products, taught a number of workshops and have been commissioned to do dye-work by individuals and several local businesses.

Cynwyd Recumbent Tricycle

Designer : Scott White, senior lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, teacher of 3D modeling and sculpture

Collaborators : Cohen Metals; Chris Leswing (Cynwyd Heritage Trail Planner).

Designers’ statement : The Cynwyd Recumbent Tricycle is designed and built for the purpose of using the existing and proposed network of Philadelphia bike trails as a way of commuting through the city and suburbs in any weather condition. Just as Henry Ford’s invention of the mass-produced automobile made roadway development a necessity, an all-weather commuter bicycle will make the construction of a bikeway infrastructure a necessity as well. Bikes are affordable and mass produced but they are used mostly for recreation. My goal as a designer is to build bikes that will make commuting by bike contagious.

• Enjoy the sanctuary of Philadelphia’s bike trails

• Cycle in all weather conditions

• Promotes a city-wide infrastructure of bikeways

• Stress-free commuting alternative to the automobile

• Very low carbon footprint

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