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Culture » Culture Features

Feed Your Mind at Bend Design, Online

Promoting design thinking continues amid the pandemic, with an online series of presentations, panels, films and more

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The times we find ourselves in, elicit, basically, one of two things in people: The urge to retreat and wait out the storm, or the ability to see opportunity in chaos and to act upon that to forge a new path. Bend Design, long a draw for those looking for inspiration and new ideas, aims to serve those who draw creative inspiration from chaos and uncertainty; those who are, as the conference organizers describe, "curious in volatile times about how creative design can shape humanity's collective future."

"We talked about canceling, because there's so much going on and people are distracted and hurting—but we've always believed Bend Design opens up new opportunities for creative change," said René Mitchell, Bend Design co-producer and executive director of Scalehouse. "By bringing creatives together, we are providing that platform. We are comforted to know that we have a lot of creatives here to tell the truth and use our voice and look at what's happening in our world in a new, different way."

With the online format, all the programming from this year's Bend Design will be available for 30 days following the event. Greg Hoffman draws from his past experiences leading design, advertising, and marketing for the Nike brand to illustrate which characteristics of creative leadership need to be elevated to power meaningful and lasting positive cultural impact. - COURTESY BENDDESIGN
  • Courtesy BendDesign
  • With the online format, all the programming from this year's Bend Design will be available for 30 days following the event. Greg Hoffman draws from his past experiences leading design, advertising, and marketing for the Nike brand to illustrate which characteristics of creative leadership need to be elevated to power meaningful and lasting positive cultural impact.

The conference, which has taken place in person each October for the past five years, normally invites creatives—not just those working in design—to a series of workshops, panel discussions and other events. Well-known and niche creatives from all over the U.S.—and elsewhere—have come to Bend to talk about everything from artificial intelligence to architecture to the contributions to design brought by design thinkers in the disabled community.

This year's event, like many events this year, will take place only online, allowing the conference to continue its tradition of introducing exciting thinkers to Central Oregon—just without the hassles of flying those thinkers into the Redmond airport.

Panel discussions this year include topics that are top of mind for many in 2020. A panel of three Black creatives, including Julia Bond of ADIDAS, Danielle McCoy of Wieden + Kennedy and Justin Morris of Kamp Grizzly—all who reside in Portland—will discuss "Manifestations of White Supremacy in Design," and share their experiences working in the white-dominated design industry. A presentation by Greg Hofman, an advisor and strategist, will discuss equity and equality in the design industry. And among the films available as part of the conference is "Americaville," a film showcasing Annie Liu's experiences living in a Chinese town built to replicate Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in which Liu discovers the challenges in attaining the promised American Dream.

Hear from a diverse panel of Black creatives on their experiences working in Oregon’s white-dominated design industry. With: Danielle McCoy (Designer at Wieden + Kennedy) and Justin Morris (Creative Director at Kamp Grizzly). - DAVID TRUJILLO
  • David Trujillo
  • Hear from a diverse panel of Black creatives on their experiences working in Oregon’s white-dominated design industry. With: Danielle McCoy (Designer at Wieden + Kennedy) and Justin Morris (Creative Director at Kamp Grizzly).

And while hosting a conference as an online-only event has its challenges and frustrations, Mitchell says another benefit of forging forward with online offerings is that it's given Scalehouse, the umbrella organization which puts on Bend Design, a "practice run" for its efforts to provide more online programming throughout the rest of the year. The plan for Scalehouse is to offer talks that might incorporate participants from Bend Design, artists from Scalehouse's gallery or other design thinkers into a monthly roster of programming.

Bend Design starts Monday, Oct. 19 and continues through Oct. 22.
Bend Design
Mon., Oct. 19-Thu. Oct. 22
Online event
Register via scalehouse.org/benddesign
$100 all-access pass/$50 students.


About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. (Blame her for everything since then.) Favorite car: A Trek commuter bike. Favorite cat: An adopted dog who looks like a Jedi master. Favorite things, besides responding to your comments: Downton Abbey re-runs, Aretha Franklin albums, and pink wine.

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