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Design took on risk

May Eynon

The 53rd annual International Design Conference in Aspen took place last week with lectures at Harris Hall and Paepcke Auditorium followed by social events staged around town. This year’s theme was “Safe: Design Takes on Risk,” which was co-chaired by Paola Antonelli, a curator of the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, architect Gregg Pasquarelli of ShoP in New York City, and product designer Hella Jongerius of JongeriusLab in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

More than 20 speakers representing design fields from landscape architecture to graphic design to city planning presented their perspectives on the role of safety and risk in their work, provoking thought and debate among each other and the conferees.

Speakers and conferees came from all corners of the globe to attend the four-day event, traveling from places such as Jerusalem, New York, Miami, Paris and the Netherlands.

Architect Alex Souto of Santos, Prescott and Associates made the trip from San Francisco for his first conference. “The historic significance of IDCA is one of the main reasons I came,” he explained. “I was also interested to see how people here are looking into the future of design.”

Architects Scott Bartleet of Harry Teague Architects and Lyndall Williams of Bill Poss and Associates took time off from work to attend lectures and volunteer for the conference. “You meet all kinds of interesting designers at IDCA,” noted Bartleet. Aside from projects at their respective firms, the couple is currently converting an 1896 Methodist church in Basalt into a residence, which they plan to occupy by the end of the year.

Staging an event of such proportions requires the effort of many people. IDCA is made up of an executive board, design board and emeritus board. A program committee develops the annual program, and a staff runs the operational side. Local architecture and design firms donate their time and skills to create the graphics, tend bar at the parties and send out mailings. Mark Joseph and Janson Simpson of Comfort Products even organized a mobile competition with their company’s track-lighting kits as a prize incentive.

“I’ve been exposed to so many role models in the design world this week,” said Annie Garrett of Aspen, noting in particular Cameron Sinclair and his mantra, “Design like you give a damn.”

“I feel fortunate to be a part of it,” she added.

IDCA Program Coordinator Becky Garrett echoed her sister’s sentiment. “I lived in NYC for two years struggling as a designer, and it wasn’t until I moved back to Aspen only last month that I had the opportunity to meet New Yorkers who are truly inspiring.”

“I personally find the intimacy of the event to be one of the best aspects of it,” said Asia Wright, an Aspen native and 2002 graduate of the University of Colorado’s architecture school, who has attended IDCA since she was young.

For the first time in its history, IDCA announced its theme for the following year at the end of the current conference. At the end of the Aspen Music Festival season, “ambient:interface” will be held from Aug. 25-28, 2004. The preliminary program describes the sensuality of design, entertainment and experimentation. German architect-turned-Los Angeles artist Christian Moeller will co-chair the event with architect and author Benjamin Bratton, a UCLA professor.

For more information on IDCA, to join the mailing list or to preregister for next year’s conference, log onto http://www.idca.org or call 925-2257.


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