At Austin Design Week, It’s About Discovering Creative Problem Solving


The third annual Austin Design Week runs from Nov. 5 through Nov. 9, and with it comes an impressive 100 free workshops, studio and project tours, panel discussions and exhibitions. From tactical urbanism to the art of shoe design, the panoply of events represent Austin’s growing design community.

Austin Design Week co-organizers Amber Atkins, Candice Digby and Danielle Barnes offered their collective answers to a few questions.

Barnes runs an organization called Women Talk Design which “acts as a resource for organizers who want to design more inclusive events, and encourage more women and gender non-binary folks to raise their hands to speak.”

Events are spread across the city though many happen at the Austin Design Week Hub at The Refinery, 710 Brazos Street.,

Why start an event like Austin Design Week? What was the inspiration?  

Design is such a central part of our lives. It’s in everything we touch, from what we wear and the spaces we exist in, to the structure of the city we live in. There are so many amazing things happening in the city regarding design, and we wanted to celebrate that.

There is already incredible talent and a bunch of strong existing creative communities here. We wanted to bring them all together — to celebrate their craft, learn from one another, and invite the larger Austin community and visitors in to participate.

We were also inspired by other design weeks around the world that bring together different design disciplines in a week-long celebration, and we believed an event like this would really benefit Austin. With Austin Design Week, we’re helping bring designers and the greater Austin community together to celebrate our accomplishments and better solve for tomorrow’s challenges.

What is the design community in Austin? You have a broad definition, including fashion, graphic design, urban design etc.

The definition of design might vary by who you ask, but we subscribe to the definition that design is ultimately creative problem-solving. Design reaches across many disciplines and we wanted that reflected.

In Austin, we have a high concentration of tech, beautiful architecture, products, and more where designers are doing important work. We’re also seeing the influence of fashion design and civic design grow in Austin. While there are many differences across design disciplines, there are also a lot of commonalities, and we believe in the power of collaborating across disciplines to learn from one another.

We also believe in design for and from everyone, and that’s the focus of this year’s theme. We want to open doors to design for the designer and non-design, the enthusiast and newbie.

Many of the programs seem geared to design professionals. How can the general public plug in?

All of our programs are free and open to the community. We hope everyone will explore the schedule and find what excites them most and sign up. Our evening events are geared at a wide audience, each night taking a different lens on design. It’s a time to get a taste of great design happening in the city in various areas of design and socialize with others in the community.

Most workshops don’t have any prerequisites — we encourage people to pick something that sounds interesting and learn something new. We also have a lot of workshops and panel discussions focusing on using design thinking to problem solve in various aspects of our lives, work, city and communities and anyone can participate. Our programs are really educational so, jump in, learn or try something new, see what you think!


A few recommended Austin Design Week events:

A Denim Exhibit: Connotations of Texican Culture
Two Texican artists share their experience of the American Dream through use of denim and iconic Mexican figures.

Pocket Patio Tour
A tour of the four ‘pocket patios’ that have sprung up along Congress Avenue.

The Art of Shoe Design and Shoe Making
A workshop at the Art of Shoes, a part retail space and part design studio space

Designing for Gender Equity
A discussion on the impact of gender aspects of design on our lives.

Furniture and Design Exhibition
Austin School of Furniture and Design presents bespoke furniture, decor and household design elements.

Beyond Doors: TEMPOrary Public Art Tour
A sneak peak tour of the City’s TEMPO Convergence! Public Art Exhibition


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