Design Week – It’s for Everyone

Tom P By: Tom P

If you’re in the St. Louis metro area, MAYBE you’ve heard about St. Louis Design Week.  If you have and you’re getting into it, great; but if you haven’t heard of it (or ignored it), I suggest you check it out.

Why? Oh, you’re not a “designer”? So what.

As an architect, I am disappointed when I meet the occasional designer in our profession who solely gets inspiration from the slick trade magazines or websites of the newest “Starchitects”. I’m sure this happens in other creative fields. Designers should, I mean, must, seek inspiration outside of their profession.


There is creative inspiration all around us, and St. Louis Design Week is promoting events across the city showing how EVERYONE benefits from good design and from being challenged to see new creative inspiration. Sure there are lots of studio tours, lectures and software seminars, but take a closer look and you might just be inspired…

Attend a place of worship? Get an up close and personal tour of the award-winning Old Cathedral renovation. Unsure about choosing a computer font? Go hear Paul Barnes and Christian Schwartz explain their processes behind type creation. Love your grandmother’s wedding invitation, lamenting why they don’t make things like they used to? Check out Firecracker Press, where antique printing technology produces objects of surprise and joy.  All about social change? Find out how design has the potential to challenge how we think about human rights and social injustice through a candid panel discussion.  In the healthcare field? Learn how design solutions can actually reduce staff stress and improve patient results in healing environments.

Design is not a mystery; everyone can be creative. You may not think you can draw well, or turn scraps of leather into beautiful book covers, but you can be creative and get creative inspiration just by looking at the world differently. Look for beauty in what others say is ugly. Or you might even challenge the status quo by finding something ugly in what everyone calls beautiful! Watch weird films. Listen to a stranger’s music (but ask politely!) The next time you walk your dog, find a lovely pattern in the peeling bark of a sycamore tree.

While the presenters, hosts and exhibitors for Design Week are likely to be artists & designers, they are there to inspire everyone, not to just  impress their fellow designers. (Well, except for that ONE guy….)

For a “Designer Spotlight” post on Design Week’s website, my friend and St. Louis graphic designer Deanna Kuhlmann-Leavitt was asked this question: How important is it to know what other designers are doing in your industry? She repliedI’ve never really paid attention to what other graphic designers are doing. Good design is all around us, so it’s important to just know what’s up and why.”

Bet she doesn’t spend lunch breaks poring over magazines.