San Francisco Design Week kicks off online

The Show Must Go On (Virtually)

San Francisco Design Week kicks off online

A highlight of San Francisco Design Week’s 2020 virtual edition is ROBLOX’s Imagination Space, a “destination where attendees can come together, celebrate and discuss the newest work, ideas, and people that make SF Design Week so special.”(Courtesy San Francisco Design Week)

Billed as the largest design festival on the West Coast, San Francisco Design Week, an annual citywide design fête anchored by studio visits, parties, and robust event programming, has officially begun. But given the current circumstances, there is, however, one not-so-slight aspect of the 2020 festival that sets it apart from past editions: the 10-day event has been moved entirely online.

SF Design Week, which its organizers described as being as the first regional design festival to go virtual during the coronavirus pandemic, runs through June 25 with a calendar chock-full of digital programming including virtual tours, live-streamed studio crawls, webinars, and other experiences that aim to “bring human connection that goes beyond staring at a screen and participating in chat windows.” This year’s festival theme is Intentional Distortions, and over 150 West Coast and Bay Area-based studios are participating in this new and unprecedented format.

The proceedings kicked off yesterday with a keynote by Alana Washington, senior design program manager at Uber Freight, who spoke to the unique challenges facing the design community today as well as how the widespread social unrest gripping America is affecting Black designers.

“The challenges of the pandemic affords us an opportunity to reimagine how we celebrate design at a time of uncertainty and unprecedented restrictions,” said SFDW executive director Dawn Zidonis in a press statement. “We as designers will rise to the challenge by transitioning our design festival to a virtual experience, giving access internationally to powerful ideas shaping the future, born in our region. San Francisco Design Week is a call to action to work together using design to solve global issues.”

All-access passes to the festival are $39 (select workshops and events require additional ticketing fees) although free tickets are available to participants who have been furloughed or laid off due to the pandemic as well as members of marginalized or underserved communities. Passes enable festival-goers to register for individual events, although some are limited capacity and will be open on a first-come, first-serve basis. Below are just some of the programming highlights:

Check out the full calendar of events here.