Vancouver Design Week returns with studio and building tours, Pantone-inspired cocktail tastings, and more

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      After a brief hiatus last year, Vancouver Design Week is returning from May 12 to 14 with a refreshed program, plenty of local talent and innovative projects for the public to explore, and a free kick-off party in one of the city’s most vibrant alleyways.

      From studio and building tours to Pantone-inspired cocktail tastings and speaker events, this year’s interdisciplinary festival features a myriad of ways for Vancouverites to support the homegrown design scene while getting to know the players who are helping to make the city more functional, livable, and beautiful.

      “It’s a unique opportunity within Vancouver to celebrate our local design talent and for the community to really connect between and across itself,” said Jennifer Cutbill, cofounder and director of VDW, during a press conference at Inform Interiors this morning (May 2).

      The three-day event—branded as Vancouver Design Week(end) for this edition—will be anchored by the Open Studios program, which will offer the public an inside look at over 45 design-oriented workspaces in the city. From experts working in the fields of fashion, graphics, and branding to those specializing in architecture, interiors, and lighting, designers will be on hand to answer questions from curious attendees as well as to share details related to both completed and on-the-go projects.

      Included in the roster are Burnkit, the local design agency responsible for the digital identities of Reigning Champ, Ballet BC, and more; Westerly Handmade Shoes, which will be conducting a live shoemaking show; and Patkau Architects, the creative minds behind buildings such as Granville Island’s Emily Carr University of Art + Design and the AIBC Architectural Awards–nominated Audain Art Museum. (See below for a full list of participants.)

      Hapa Collaborative, the local urban-design firm that developed Mid-Main Park, is one of 45-plus design studios that will be opening its workspace to the public on the weekend of May 12 to 14.
      Hapa Collaborative

      “We have a lot of great designers here, but everyone’s usually head down, busy working, and not often interconnecting,” said Cutbill. “So this is a fantastic opportunity to open the doors of studios, exchange ideas, as well as [to forward] our larger underlying mandate: to support and empower design’s capacity to improve the quality of our everyday lives.”

      Similarly, the Open Buildings series will offer Vancouverites a peek inside five innovative spaces that aren’t typically accessible to the public. These buildings include Crosstown Elementary, a recently opened inner-city school situated inside a condominium; the Segev LLP Offices, a law firm that feels more like a hip tech startup thanks to a practical, open-concept design; and the 430 House, a renovated Vancouver Special that pushes the boundaries of the iconic, ’80s-era structure.

      Architects, interior designers, and other professionals who had a role in the design and construction of these buildings will guide Vancouverites through a series of informative tours.

      The studios and buildings will be open to the public during set times on May 13 and 14. Spaces located in East Vancouver, Railtown, and Strathcona will be open on May 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; those found in Gastown, Chinatown, Crosstown, downtown, and Yaletown will be open on May 13 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.; and those situated south of False Creek will be open on May 14 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

      In addition, a number of ticketed food-and-beverage events around the city will give Vancouverites a taste of some design-oriented treats as well as insight into how the room around them came together.

      Tealeaves will present a Pantone tea-blending cocktail experience at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver during VDW.

      Leckie Studio Architecture + Design will lead a tasting in one of its client’s spaces, Yaletown’s Small Victory Bakery; Oddity Kombucha, owned by architect-by-trade Alicia Medina, will host a kombucha-making workshop in its soon-to-open bar-and-tasting-room; and the Vancouver-based Tealeaves will a Pantone-inspired cocktail-mixing session at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.

      “It’s a chance to go behind the scenes and get greater insight into the design of the tasting rooms, lounges, and cafes we love—obviously with some fantastic treats,” explained Cutbill.

      Other out-of-the-box ways to engage with the city’s design community include a design-themed trivia night at Mexican-Indian cantina Masaladobo; a screening of Brasilia: Life After Design, a documentary that explores how the federal capital of Brazil succeeds—and fails—in implementing order by design; and a “whisky debrief” hosted by local design agency Cause+Affect at Odd Society Spirits, which will discuss the future of VDW.

      VDW officially kicks off with a public launch party on May 12 in downtown Vancouver’s Alley Oop, a laneway between Granville Street and Seymour Street that was transformed into a public hangout space with bright yellow and purple paints, basketball hoops, and furniture in 2016. The project was the result of a collaboration between the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, the City of Vancouver, and HCMA Architecture + Design.

      Co-hosted by HCMA, the party will feature food from Roaming Dragon, beer from Faculty Brewing Co., music and entertainment, and more. It takes place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is free.

      Check out the list below to see all participating designers in this year’s Open Studios and Building programs. More names are expected to be added closer to the event’s date. For more information about VDW, or to purchase tickets to a tasting event, click here.

      Open Studios

      Bronsino Designs
      Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects Inc.
      Cloth Studio
      D’Arcy Jones Architecture
      Dina Gonzalez Mascaro Studio
      Habanero Consulting Group
      Hapa Collaborative
      Lanefab Design/Build
      Louder Than Ten
      Marianne Amodio Architecture Studio
      Martha Sturdy Gallery
      MNSTR Gallery
      Modus Planning, Design & Engagement
      Nick Milkovich Architects
      Nicole Bridger
      Patkau Architects
      PFS Studio
      RED Academy
      The Aviary
      The Cygnus Design Group
      Westerly Handmade Shoes
      Wiivv Wearables
      Yew Woodshop

      Open Buildings

      430 House by D’Arcy Jones Architecture
      Adler University by PUBLIC: Architecture + Communication
      Crosstown Elementary School by Francl Architecture
      Segev LLP Offices by Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects Inc.
      Telus Garden by Henriquez Partners Architects

      Follow Lucy Lau on Twitter @lucylau.