If a movement can be defined as a moment when people across time zones and borders act simultaneously on the same idea, then the design week movement is verifiable. In the last three years, design festivals and design weeks have mushroomed across the U.S. in cities including Columbus, Portland, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Detroit, as well as abroad, in Beijing, Singapore, Moscow, and Paris.
Federico Churba graduated from the industrial design program at the University of Buenos Aires in 2001, right on the cusp of Argentina’s economic crisis and the collapse of its peso. His country’s reduced reliance on imports and shift to domestic industry meant a short testing period for young designers. “There was a strong pull to start producing immediately and showing the world what we could do,” says Churba. From the beginning, he was interested in manipulating material and forms to create simple, newly iconic shapes. An early influence was Vico Magistretti and his 1986 Vidun table, whose height-adjustable base is an outsized wooden screw.
Renée Rossouw funneled her various fixations into a single focus when she spent 2010 pursuing the Master of European Design Labs, an interdisciplinary degree program directed by Spanish designer Jaime Hayon. The program is based in Madrid, but students travel to various European cities. Rossouw, 26, had just completed a master’s in architecture, but she was on less sure footing regarding other types of design. “I was interested in design from a young age, but I never felt I truly understood it,” she says. “South Africa is a craft-oriented country, but we don’t actually have a design industry.”