Bend Design 2019 addresses how creative thinking can solve business, social and civic issues.
In 2015, a group of design professionals from various disciplines mustered up a two-day event in Bend, hoping to inspire their peers by celebrating the practice and principals of design. Five years later, Bend Design, produced by local organization ScaleHouse, has grown to a four-day festival filled with talks, shows, workshops, screenings, and problem-solving sessions, all centered around the broader-than-design concept of “ideas.” The conference still welcomes in those who design for a living, but the audience has expanded to include anyone and everyone who can benefit from creative thinking in their professional or personal lives, as well as across communities.
Central to the event is Bend itself, and the way this small city has grown to serve as catalyst and incubator for creativity. “This year’s creative visionaries are aligned with the innovative and collaborative spirit that distinguishes Bend as a hub for creative thinking,” said ScaleHouse co-founder and Bend Design co-producer René Mitchell.
The event creators’ hope is that by engaging creative thinking, communities can make positive changes within a wide range of challenges. “The Bend Design conference aims to explore how creative thinking and practices can lift up our lives, our communities, and the wider world,” said Mitchell. “It’s a way to engage our forward-thinking, talented community in a meaningful conversation about the role of design in our daily experience and how it invigorates and inspires us to do better.”
Throughout the year, ScaleHouse convenes diverse thinkers for in-depth discussion, artistic expression, and hands-on collaboration. Bend Design is the flagship event. “We believe that our future presents complex challenges and opportunities, not just benefiting from creativity but requiring it,” said Mitchell.
Returning this year is a special session called Design for Good. This branding and design exercise benefits a Central Oregon non-profit which serves historically marginalized communities. “Bend Design participants bring branding and design chops to a nonprofit,” said Mitchell. “Last year we developed a logo for the Latino Community Association. We’re in the process of selecting an organization this year.”
New this year is a screening of “Obey Giant: The Art and Dissent of Shepard Fairey,” a documentary film that explores the life and career of street artist and graphic designer Shepard Fairey. Co-presented by BendFilm, this is a free event bringing participants together for film-watching and discussion about a controversial artist.
A cornerstone of Tenth Month, the monthlong October series of Bend cultural events that also includes BendFilm Festival and the Bend Venture Conference, Bend Design will take place October 23 through 26 this year. “Bend Design is for creative thinkers, designers, and innovators,” said Mitchell.