New York has a fashion week, a restaurant week, and an Internet week--hell, we’ve even got a social media week. Conspicuously absent, of course, is design. Though the city teams with design professionals, there’s never been a single, all-inclusive event promoting design in New York.
That’s all about to change. This morning, the city launched the official web presence of NYCxDesign, a 12-day festival celebrating every conceivable niche of design, that will begin on May 10. "We have more designers in New York City than any other U.S. city, but we do a terrible job promoting them in their totality," City Council Speaker (and rumored mayoral candidate) Christine Quinn told The New York Times. Quinn, who broached the idea of a design festival last year, is heading up the effort to promote design in the city. “We’ll grow our design sector by stealing an idea from the fashion industry!” she tweeted after mentioning the festival in a speech.
The idea behind NYCxDesign is to make design visible to people who don’t normally think about it, and to bring together disparate industries like graphic design, product design and manufacturing, landscape architecture, and more. The event is being planned by Fashion Week founder Fern Mallis, who is leading a group of more than 50 designers, entrepreneurs, and journalists involved in the event’s inception. According to Mallis, the goal is to give design a leg up in American culture. “In Italy and France, it’s a part of the culture from the get-go,” she told The New York Times last year. “There have been hundreds of years of caring about those disciplines. It’s not an American thing. It needs to be.”
NYCxDesign will be a cocktail of exhibitions, open studios, a design film festival, and (of course) parties, preceded conveniently by Frieze New York art fair and followed by the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. The festival identity comes courtesy of local shop Base Design, who worked with New York’s Chief Creative Officer, Willy Wong, on the project. According to Base’s Creative Director Min Lew, the x in NYCxDesign offered an obvious and flexible logomark. “What we thought was really interesting about the x is that it represents a crossroads between designers and the city,” she told me. “It symbolizes multiplicity and celebrates the diversity of design.” The stenciled x was also chosen because it remains recognizable even when it’s tailored to fit a particular designer’s work or a certain event. Lew also mentioned that the x will find its way into the physical world, as screening at events and in storefront displays.
For now, we don’t know much about NYCxDesign beyond a handful of events listed on the website, but more details are sure to emerge as it draws closer. For now, it’s exciting to see powerful figures like Quinn throwing their weight behind design as an economic powerhouse in New York City, even if promotional festivals aren’t the most pressing issue on the docket. It is an election year, after all--there are more than 40,000 design professionals living in this city, and according to one study, design jobs have increased by 75% over the past decade in New York.
Check out NYCxDesign for a list of events.