With more than 100 talks, tastings, and complimentary studio and landmark tours taking place from May 7 to 13, the third edition of Vancouver Design Week—the city’s official multidisciplinary design festival—has a little something for everyone.
Whether you’re looking to get more involved in the local design community, shop goods by local artisans, or engage with the wild and widely varied world of design through unconventional avenues such as bicycles and ice cream, here are our top recs for events to explore during the weeklong fete.
VDW's full schedule and admission to ticketed functions are available at vancouverdesignwk.com/ .
Ideals Then Ideas
(May 9, at 7 p.m., at UBC Robson Square)
Presenting the keynote lecture for this year’s VDW, celebrated architect Alison Brooks will share insights on her practice and building approach in a talk titled “Ideals Then Ideas: New Urban Housing as Civic Architecture”. The London-based designer will draw from her experience working on academic and high-density residential projects in the U.K. to discuss the role housing plays in developing culture and community. Admission is by a suggested donation of $10 at the door.
(From May 7 to 11, daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., at Waterfront Station)
Browse an eclectic mix of goods from the city’s up-and-coming makers at a special pop-up shop. Situated at one of Vancouver’s busiest transportation centres for your shopping convenience, the temporary boutique will stock fashion, home, and other miscellaneous goods, and gives visitors a chance to rub shoulders with the designers behind them.
Earnest Ice Cream Tour
(May 12, at 11 a.m., at 127 West 1st Street, North Vancouver)
Explore one of Vancouver’s most beloved ice-cream spots with a tasting session that offers the scoop on the humble beginnings of Earnest Ice Cream, how its frozen treats come to fruition, and the sweet design of its North Shore outpost. Save room for a waffle cone packed with your favourite flavour. Admission is $5 at the door.
(May 8, from 7 to 9 p.m., at Vogue Theatre)
Part of a network of international nonprofit events that emphasizes a rapid-fire sharing of ideas, PechaKucha has been introducing residents to some of the city’s most innovative minds since 2008. For its 45th edition, organizers are teaming up with VDW to present talks from speakers such as local chef and restauranteur Angus An, DanceHouse cofounder Jim Smith, and HCMA Architecture + Design principal Melissa Higgs. Tickets are $19.75 online.
MEC Head Office Tour
(May 11, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., at 1077 Great Northern Way)
Get a behind-the-scenes look at MEC, the grand-daddy of sporting-goods stores in Vancouver, with a free tour of the company’s East Van HQ. Led by the company’s CEO, CFO, and senior director of product design, as well as Hugh Cochlin, principal of Proscenium Architecture + Interiors, the jaunt will walk visitors through the massive LEED Platinum–certified building, and offer info about the retail co-op’s sustainability and technical-design work. RSVP to email@example.com.
Why We Cycle
(May 7, from 7 to 9 p.m., at 1660 East Broadway)
Vancouver is well known for its bikeability, but the city still has a long, long ways to go before it reaches Nether-levels of cycle-friendly culture. At the local premiere of Dutch film Why We Cycle co-presented by Modacity and HUB Cycling, attendees will discover the social benefits of embracing two-wheelers and hear from Vancouver politicians, bike advocates, and others in a post-screening panel discussion. Tickets are $13 online.
Designing Future Classics
(May 12, from 12 to 1 p.m., at 14 Water Street)
With its minimalist fixtures, living moss wall, and gumball machine–inspired display tubes, Native Shoes’ flagship—and first brick-and-mortar store—is an eye-catching feat in Gastown. But not immediately visible to the naked eye is the Vancouver-born company’s commitment to sustainability in the development of this space and its “beast-free” footwear: two topics that will be discussed at a free talk led by design honchos from the Earth-friendly retailer.
Nada Grocery: Talk & Tasting
(May 13, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., at 675 East Broadway)
Ahead of the highly anticipated opening of zero-waste grocery store Nada, the team behind the shop will present a series of sustainability-focused talks from founder Brianne Miller, its design collaborators, and its head chef. There, attendees will get a first look at the soon-to-open East Van space, mingle and munch on snacks, and learn more about the ability of design to make a difference. Tickets are $10 online.More