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Do You Believe in Magic?

Written by in Events, Inspire


Design Week Birmingham
Casts a Spell over the Magic City

Think October, and visions of ghosts and goblins come to mind. It’s a month long associated with Halloween, but in Birmingham another movement is brewing—a design movement. The Magic City hosted its second annual Design Week Birmingham on October 20-25, a six-day event celebrating design with a capital D.

“Birmingham has lain fallow for some time 
and DWB
has sown seeds on it for a more fruitful future.” 
—David Blumberg

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Aaron Draplin after his keynote presentation at Good People Brewing Company.  

Design Week Birmingham is a multifaceted event that includes installations, lectures, film showings, exhibits, workshops and social gatherings inspired by the belief that design matters. From hands-on workshops, Pecha Kucha and TEDxBirmingham to a pop-up design shop, this carefully curated week was chock-full of letterpress, designing flags, type, posters, street art, sustainable architecture, branding, drawing, good eats and greater energy.

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Birmingham Creative Roundtable with Henry H. Owings at Sound and Page.

“The city has embraced DWB,” says co-founder David Blumberg, a senior designer at Lewis Communications. “From the venues and small businesses that hosted our events, the Mayor performing the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the host of sponsorships, and the cross-discipline participation, we have seen many open doors and open minds.”

DWB strives to be a conduit for design disciplines to
co-mingle, learn from each other’s processes,
and work together.  — Jared Fulton

 

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Re-thinking Avondale workshop with Auburn University architecture students, Avondale Brewery.

Graphic design, architecture, interactive, industrial, landscape, and fashion design—DWB was a more inclusive event this year, attracting visitors outside the field. “Getting citizens, entrepreneurs, and business leaders excited about design is good for designers and good for Birmingham,” says board member Roy Burns, creative director at Lewis Communications.

And when Birmingham does inclusive, it does it right. Think youth. The Desert Island Supply Co. hosted after-school workshops for grade-school kids all week focused around design issues. Co-founder Jared Fulton, graduate architect at Williams Blackstock Architects, says, “We want the younger generations to appreciate design and become designers. These will be the people who transform our city in the future. Our goal is to not only educate but to have them actively participate.”

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 The Art of Finding a Brand’s Soul with Ford Wiles, Chief Creative Officer of Big Communications and James Williams, Creative Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art.

DWB got local, promoting its own designers who are pushing the norms, and then looked beyond the Heart of Dixie for inspiration. Enter Aaron Draplin, founder of Draplin Design Co., known for the iconic Field Notes Brand and the keynote speaker for DWB.

Flag design workshop with Aaron Draplin. Photo by Jared Ragland

Flag design workshop with Aaron Draplin at the
University of Alabama at Birmingham. Photo by Jared Ragland.

He’s a big draw for a city of 212,000 people and his animated presentation wowed the audience, but Draplin is just one part of DWB. This event is about education and, according to Fulton, action-based events with real design solutions to better the Birmingham community. Take DWB’s grand finale bhamFEAST, a community-action dinner where diners voted to fund a project that uses design in a transformative way. Bici Coop, a local nonprofit bike education group, won $5,000 to design a pull-behind trailer that will act as a bike education and repair shop. Fulton says, “They will bring their services directly to the people.”

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At bhamFEAST diners voted to fund a Bici Coop, a local nonprofit bike education group.

Whether you were in a hall or a brewery, at the Birmingham Museum of Art or Alabama Center for Architecture, there was a charge in air. DWB demonstrates that with energy, commitment and community great things will happen. It was absolute magic.

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