Recently, Amy White reconnected with Ilene Shaw, to learn about what inspired her to create Design Pavilion, what motivates her to expand on the concept each year, and what surprised her about Avery Dennison.
Amy: Ilene, what is the origin of the idea for Design Pavilion?
Ilene: I began my career as a product designer-maker, and through a natural progression I eventually focused on the marketing of design, which grew into a role of strong influence in the origination of industry trade shows, including the conception and co-development of the ICFF in its first decade.
It was the formation of NYCxDESIGN that presented the opportunity to bring this passion and vision to life in the form of Design Pavilion.
I believe deeply that everyone - individuals and corporations - benefits by the problem solving strategies of design, and I spread that idea across all my endeavors. I’ve always believed when it comes to design, it is through understanding that we can create value, and Design Pavilion helps people to understand design through experience.
Amy: This was your third year with Design Pavilion. What was new?
Ilene: Serving as the public centerpiece and hub of New York City’s official city-wide design weeks, Design Pavilion celebrates NYCxDESIGN, bringing together all the design disciplines through more than 500 events across the five boroughs.
This year, we expanded our network of partners, which in turn helped us to expand the reach of the Design Pavilion experience. We partnered for the first time with Nasdaq, which enabled us to have time on their magnificent tower digital screen. We were able to broadcast daily design-focused interviews, curated and hosted by Design Pavilion, on the theme of business and design.
Also, as our name implies, central to the mission of Design Pavilion is the realization of structures to demonstrate the power of architecture and provide shelter for our installations. To that end, we created a centrepiece pavilion and partnered with Inflate UK to achieve our vision, designed by our creative director Harry Allen and lit by lighting designers by L’Observatoire International with Philips Lighting.
The pavilion structure created a ‘wow’ effect, which was key for our visitors and on social media. The effect was amplified even more by our partnership with Times Square Alliance and through the use of digital billboards in Times Square provided by Superior Digital Displays.
Amy: When do you start planning for Design Pavilion 2019?
Ilene: We have already begun planning for 2019. One year is not a long period of time to prepare for an event of this size and scale - it’s never too soon. And of course, we need to give companies time to assess their budgets and designate funds.
In most cases, the basic framework is complete by the fall, leaving the early part of next year for design, fabrication, and promotion. The more advance planning time, the smoother the process and the more successful the plan.
Amy: It all seemed to run so smoothly this year. What did it look like behind the scenes?
Ilene: There are always behind-the-scenes dramas and mishaps due to a variety of reasons. Such is the nature of events. At times, we face inclement weather or human error or unforeseeable circumstances out of our control. A successful outcome is determined by how one handles these challenges. There are always challenges and we have seen it all.
Like any event, most of the preparation is done prior to set up. The trick is to get the right installations which depict our messages ‘design is an agent of change’, ‘design is problem solving’, ‘good design is good business’, and ‘design is for the people’. We seek engaging interactive installations that will entertain and educate the public. For the industry, we address the issues of our time including sustainability, materials, how technology and ideas are shaping the future. The trick is in the curation of different elements and also creating a supportive talk series that adds to the messaging and gives our designers and exhibitors an additional platform in which to further deepen their stories and address a specific audience.
Then there are the many layers of operational logistics. Working and coordinating with the various city agencies. Organizing the move in and set up with a variety of exhibitors. Negotiating around the Times Square Alliance’s daily operations without affecting, disrupting or interfering in any way. I must emphasize that Times Square Alliance is instrumental in helping Design Pavilion to happen smoothly. We are extremely grateful for their committed partnership. Without their full cooperation and collaboration, this would not be possible, and we work with them closely during the entire year, step by step, to make it all happen in a good way for all.
It is truly a big team effort. I hope we make it all look easy!
Amy: Avery Dennison, in partnership with Artsthread, came late to the party and only had ten weeks together to plan our installation - What did you think of the end result?
Ilene: The results were amazing! The installation was beautiful: clean, white, simple, and visually stunning, and the content included young designers which is always valued, since Design Pavilion is committed to supporting emerging talent.