Big Design Festival Arrives This Week

(l to r) INTRO/LA features the work of 19 established and upcoming designers; The World Design Gallery features work from across the globe including Barcelona-based textile artist Mariadela Araujo. 

DTLA - When it comes to design, the world’s attention is generally focused on cities such as London, Milan and Tokyo.

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Los Angeles may not be on that tier, but it is a hub for design in the United States, and its international reputation is growing. The vivacity and rebirth of Downtown is part of it, and increasingly designers from around the globe are coming to the community to test the creative waters.

Design’s foothold in Los Angeles is never more apparent than when the annual Los Angeles Design Festival sets up shop this week.

“Everyone is turning toward L.A.,” Haley Zaki, founder of the L.A. Design festival, said. “L.A. is experiencing this sort of renaissance as a global design capital.”

The eighth annual event takes place on Thursday-Sunday, June 7-10. During those four days, more than 80 events will be spread across the region, including exhibitions, design installations, industry chats and neighborhood tours. The theme this year is “Design is for everyone.”

“We really wanted to make design something that is fun and accessible,” Zaki said. “There is just so much design thinking in L.A.”

While some design festivals focus on one realm, such as fashion or architecture, Zaki said that the L.A. Design Festival has evolved into an opportunity to show how design elements have seeped into every nook of every industry in Los Angeles. That is borne out in a schedule that includes an ikebana floral arrangement workshop, a conversation with Saehee Cho on the intersection of food and storytelling, and a Downtown Los Angeles architecture walking tour that includes Union Station.

“We’re really trying to do this in our own very special L.A. way,” Zaki said. “It’s really about this creative energy that makes L.A. special.”

The majority of the events are taking place at the Row DTLA complex in the Industrial District. This include the Design Block Party on Friday from 6-9 p.m. The free event, which is open to the public, includes previews of the other events, along with tours and vendors, all within a party-like atmosphere.

“It’s kind of like we’re turning Row DTLA into a pop-up design district for one day,” Zaki said.

On Saturday, the INTRO/LA design show will take place at Row DTLA from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. It provides an opportunity for independent designers to share space with more established brands. A total of 19 designers will show their wares.

The festival events are free, except for an opening night party ($40), the Chromatic Dinner ($100), a five-course, multi-sensory dinner hosted by Feastown at Eastown, and industry talks ($15) with figures such as Dr. Donald McPherson, co-founder of EnChroma, a provider of corrective lenses for people who are colorblind, and Lana Sutherland, CEO and co-founder of Tealeaves, a high-end tea brand.

The L.A. Design Festival is Thursday-Sunday, June 7-10, at Row DTLA, and other locations. A full schedule of the events is at

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2018