Celebrating Community at Salt Lake Design Week 2021

I always look forward to trips to Salt Lake City. As a remote Product Designer at Underbelly working from Boise, Idaho, I visit the studio every couple of months. Recently, I had the pleasure of helping organize Salt Lake Design Week 2021, hosted by AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) and sponsored by Underbelly. I got to come to Salt Lake City to assist with events throughout the week (and really just get to enjoy them.)

Salt Lake Design Week celebrates and promotes the impact of all design in Utah. Stronger design communities are built through forums like Salt Lake Design Week - creating opportunities for designers, business professionals, students, and the general public to collaborate. This inclusive event recognizes all design disciplines, including graphic, digital, product, fashion, photography, architecture, interior, and more.

Design Week kicked off with a keynote address by Jonny Black and Richard Roche from The Office of Ordinary Things, a socially and environmentally-conscious design studio in San Francisco. They shared their values and several case studies showing their ingenuity and creativity in branding, packaging, and more. Did you know you can make ink out of algae? Mind. Blown. Needless to say, we had a darn TOOOTin’ good time.

In expressing their commitment to sustainability, Jonny and Richard challenge the design community to be more environmentally friendly. Not sure where to start? Check out these resources.

The Office of Ordinary Things Keynote Address

Throughout the week, there was a wide variety of design-related events to attend. Some highlights included an exhibit of this year’s best design at The 100 Show; a mini motion design conference at Divvy; a panel of local filmmakers at Brewvies; a conversation on designing for non-profits at Neighborhood House; a workshop to make your own Sedia 1 chair with Wasatch Design Collective; a showcase and Q&A with local photographers; and behind-the-scenes tours of Struck, Gantry, Underbelly, Fell, Riso Geist, and the Granary Campus. View all the events here.

Sedia Workshop with Wasatch Design Collective

One of my favorite events was the Cocktails with Creatives & Agency Panel discussion at Underbelly. It was an opportunity to mingle with other designers and swap bad jokes amidst fall-themed charcuterie boards and cocktails. Later, we joined panelists Alysha Smith from Modern8, Kevin Perry from Struck, and Amy Lukas from Infinite Scale for an engaging discussion about their experiences running design studios through a pandemic. Their candid discussion covered creative methods for retention, how to connect with remote employees, how to support each other as designers, and more.

Cocktails with Creatives

Design Week allowed me to have deep philosophical conversations, eye-opening insights about the impact of design on environmental sustainability, and surprising inspirations drawn from local filmmakers and photographers.

To all the speakers, panelists, and organizations involved in Design Week, thank you so much for your time and talents! This event would not be possible without you. To my new friends in Utah, congratulations. You are now the recipients of funny texts from me about bad design in the wild.

I’m truly honored to be part of a design community focused on diversity, sustainability, and innovation. To the folks at Underbelly, it was wonderful to spend time with you getting annihilated in foosball, drinking too much kombucha, and exploring vegan offerings. See you next time, Salt Lake City! Already looking forward to Design Week 2022.

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