A new city flag, your face on a building, teens solving urban-blight dilemmas—these visions and more are on display now.
Philadelphia has a city flag. It’s ugly. Not any uglier than most other flags based on an old European-style coat of arms, mind you—but that’s not saying much.
Then came Ed Mitchell. A senior industrial designer at the Center City product-development firm Bresslergroup, Mitchell earlier this year found himself playing around with a thought: Since the 50 U.S. state flags are all kind of a mess themselves—similarly old and blah, and lacking any sort of underlying Amercan design unity—why not redesign them all for fun, together? Over a period of two months, Mitchell established a uniform red, white and blue palette based on the U.S. flag and set about applying it to the states one by one, designing each around a simple iconic concept tied to its location. His Pennsylvania flag, therefore, renders the ultra-simplified geometric shape of an old inkpen tip, paying tribute to the Declaration of Independence even while making a passing pun on the word “pen.”
Mitchell showed his designs to his colleagues at Bresslergroup, where managing partner Mike Flanagan saw an opportunity to apply the same idea here at home. Thus this week’s ninth annual citywide DesignPhiladelphia festival—rehomed this year under the auspices of the Center for Architecture—will see a brand new prototype for a hypothetical 21st-century Philly city flag, designed by a Bresslergroup team, hoisted high over Center City. The design itself is still top secret as PW goes to press, but you’ll see the real thing in the air on Thursday.
DesignPhiladelphia kicks off Wednesday night with a benefit reception at Bahdeebahdu, a working design studio in Kensington, and a more budget-minded afterparty featuring music from King Britt at the nearby American Street Studio. From there, events run day and night through Oct. 18; here are 10 we’ll be going out of our way to check out. Find the entire festival schedule and more information at events.designphiladelphia.org. / STEPHEN H. SEGAL
Emergence of a Modern Metropolis Walking Tour
Oct. 10, 12, 15, 17. 2pm. Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch St. $15.
See how Philadelphia evolved from an engine of industry to a 21st-century metropolis. Tour the city’s diverse architectural styles and building technologies from the 19th century to the modern day, and learn about the economic and political forces that shaped the town as we know it.
Sense Inspired Craftsmanship
Opening reception: Thurs., Oct. 10. Exhibit: through Oct. 31. 3rd Ward Philly, 1227 N 4th St. Free.
3rd Ward is a shared workspace and marketplace for hands-on classes in technology, craftsmanship, food/beverage, art and design, taught by a grassroots community of diverse local artisans. This group exhibit highlights 3rd Ward’s interpretation of “sense-inspired craftsmanship”; you’ll see such skills as dip-dyeing, Shibori scarf-making, kombucha brewing and soap making.
Society of Pythagoras
Fri., Oct 11. 6-9pm. Hawthorne Hall, 3849 Lancaster Ave. $5.
Rabid Hands Art Collective has turned Hawthorne Hall., an old vaudeville theater and church on Lancaster Avenue, into the so-called Society of Pythagoras, using materials collected around the city to showcase the history of the fraternal lodges that once held residence in the building. Originally commissioned for the 2013 Hidden City Philadelphia festival, the installation will be accessible to the public for one night only.
Fri., Oct. 11. Photo shoot: 12–5pm. Reception: 7–9pm. Silicon Gallery, 139 N 3rd St. Free.
See your face on a building’s face! The Silicon Fine Arts Prints team plans to photograph participants, then build the portraits into a giant design on the gallery’s exterior. The installation hopes to craft an unforgettable mix of historical architecture and current city neighbors; watch yourself turned into artwork by wallpaper designers Tennyson Tippy and Katie Tackman.
Lots of Power Community Showcase
Opening reception: Fri., Oct 11. 6–9pm. Exhibit: through Oct. 31. AIGA Philadelphia Space, 72 N. 2nd St. Free.
Lots of Power is a local mentorship program that matches teenage youth with creative professionals to come up with innovative ways to reinvent vacant lots in Kensington.Two winning teams will receive grants to make their projects reality. Tonight’s reception, sponsored by Clean Currents and AIGA Philadelphia and featuring live music by the School of Rock, is an opportunity to meet all the participating teams.
Fast Forward Philly
Fri., Oct. 11, 6-8pm. Philadelphia Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch St. Free.
A miscellaneous assortment of creative professionals will “fast forward” through 20 slides, each seeking a different answer to the same question: “What’s next for Philly?” Light refreshments; no registration required.
Infill Philadelphia: Soak It Up!
Opening reception: Tues., Oct. 15, 5-7pm. Exhibit: through Dec. 7. City Hall, Broad & Market St., 2nd floor. Free.
The Philadelphia Water Department is proposing a new approach to cleaning and enhancing the city’s rivers: green stormwater infrastructure.The Infill Philadelphia: Soak It Up! project challenged developers, designers, neighbors and wonks alike to suggest ways of using such infrastructure to improve quality of life in the city.
Service Jam: Brainstorming a Better Philadelphia Through One of the 5 Senses
Tues., Oct 15. 6-9pm. A&G/Neiman Labs, 1619 Walnut St., 4th floor. $10.
Indy Hall, the city’s New Urban Mechanics initiative, Philadelphia University, Skai Blue Media and Think Brownstone sponsor this innovative sensory throwdown: “Could a smell improve education? How might sound have an effect on transportation?... Join us at the intersection of creative thinking and ‘doing good’ to design new conceptual services and experiences that could make Philadelphia better. Each participating team will be required to use one of the five senses—scent, sight, touch, taste, or smell—to identify a new way to innovate public school education.”
Burning into Business: How Burning Man Inspires Design
Wed., Oct 16, 6-9pm. Globe Dye Works, unit L5, 4500 Worth St. Free.
Burning Man may have captured the popular imagination as a art-and-drug-fueled free-for-all, a hedonistic experiment in temporary desert living. Designers & entrepreneurs have thrived there, though, in the unique community of open-minded exploration where technology, construction and performance all thrive. Tonight in Space Cake’s open studio at Globe Dye Works, meet a variety of Burning Man-inspired creators and see what they might have to share.
YARDS Tap Handle Throwdown
Thurs., Oct. 17, 6–9pm. NextFab Studios, 2025 Washington Ave. $10 advance ticket required.
Two local institutions, Yards Brewery and NextFab Studios, offered the creative and brew-loving community of Philadelphia the chance to design a Yards tap handle prototype. Now: come see the designs! Tonight will see public voting and the naming of a winner, whose design will be constructed by NextFab and put into use at bars across the city.
In Memoriam: Amiri Baraka