Five Ways to Celebrate National Design Week

Saturday marks the start of National Design Week. Now in its sixth year, the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum-sponsored series of programs and events (including the National Design Awards gala) falls in the middle of “Archtober,” New York’s inaugural Architecture and Design Month, which means that there are more ways than ever to celebrate. Here are five of our favorites:

  • The National Design Week fun kicks off tonight at Knoll (this year’s National Design Award winner for corporate and institutional achievement). The fabled furniture company will open its New York showroom for a discussion with Masamichi Udagawa and Sigi Moeslinger of Antenna Design, architect Lee Mindel, and Cooper-Hewitt curatorial director Cara McCarty.

  • Got kids? Locate some by Saturday, when the Cooper-Hewitt hosts “Target Design Kids: Kid Made Modern.” Kids ages 5 to 12 are invited to create modern design pieces from everyday and recycled materials with Todd Oldham (Mr. Kid Made Modern himself) and his crew. At a similar event held last year for the toddler set, Oldham spotted a promising artist-in-the-making. “This one little girl, she was tiny and had to stand in the chair, and she went immediately for the paint. She started layering on these colors that were so exquisite, like chocolates into navys, completely non-intuitive color combinations with the most sophisticated brushstrokes,” he tells us. “She was like Rothko in a jumper. It was truly shocking.” Oldham immediately notified her parents. “They had no idea, and the little girl didn’t have any art supplies at home,” he says. “I know that kid’s life changed, because the parents took it really seriously once they saw her work.”

  • Saturday is also the opening day of “Design with the Other 90%: Cities,” for which the Cooper-Hewitt is taking over the United Nations Visitors Center. The new exhibition—an urban followup to the life-saving inventions featured in “Design for the 90%”—examines the complex issues arising from unprecedented urban growth, primarily in the informal settlements and slums of the global south. Visitors will have through January 9 to explore (at no charge) the relationships among urban planning and design, education, social entrepreneurship, climate change, sanitation and water, migration, public health, and affordable housing.
  • The urban exploration continues with Open House New York Weekend, a citywide celebration of extraordinary architecture and design. “From private residences and historic landmarks to rooftop farms and sustainable skyscrapers, OHNY Weekend offers you rare access and insight into hundreds of architecturally and culturally significant sites in all five boroughs,” say the organizers. Click here to download the full event guide.
  • Fellow design documentary junkies, take note: the Architecture & Design Film Festival returns to New York next week. Among the new selection of 31 features and shorts are Eames: The Architect and the Painter, Florent Tillon‘s Detroit Wild City, and How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster? as well as up close and personal looks at New Zealander Ian Athfield (Architect of Dreams), freshly minted MacArthur fellow Jeanne Gang (Studio Gang Architects: Columbia College Chicago MPC), and Zaha Hadid (Lioness Among Lions).