Austin Design Week to provide cost effective learning opportunities for students

Brooke Sjoberg

Looking to boost a resumé? How about fill a portfolio? For students, professionals and enthusiasts of design, Austin Design Week provides free workshops and connections to the industry.

Austin Design Week runs from Nov. 5 to Nov. 9 and includes 100 free talks, studio tours and workshops celebrating Austin’s creative community of designers and engineers. This will be Austin’s third Design Week event.

Danielle Barnes is one of Austin Design Week’s three founders and currently the CEO of Women Talk Design. The Daily Texan had an opportunity to chat with her in anticipation of the event.

The Daily Texan: How did you go about founding Austin Design Week?

Danielle Barnes: The goal behind Austin Design Week is to really bring together all different design disciplines in Austin: architects, graphic designers, service designers and fashion designers, and take a week to celebrate design in Austin. We also wanted to bring in the rest of the community — people who aren’t designers and don’t really know what’s going on within design — and allow them to celebrate with us.

DT:  What was the inspiration behind Austin Design Week?

DB: There’s design weeks that happen really all over the world. I actually had created similar events in San Francisco and New York. We wanted to create one here when we realized that Austin didn’t have one.

DT: Who would get the most out of participating in Austin Design Week?

DB: We tried to set it up so that it wasn’t just about one particular type of group. Our goal is that it’s really beneficial to a lot of people. Current practitioners of design can go to different workshops and continue to learn more about their craft or visit different booths and learn more about what they’re doing. We also have some programming that is specific to students. We want students to attend as well. I think they can learn a lot by visiting different studios and workshops, meeting different people. We also have an event on creating your design portfolio and office hours with professionals where students can talk and get advice.

DT: How is Austin pushing the boundaries of design?

DB: There’s a lot of interesting areas that people are focused on in design here. One of the things that I personally have found really exciting is some of the things that the city is doing with design. Making services more accessible and focusing on housing and other things that the city’s facing, and the way the city is working with designers is really interesting. We also have a lot of tech companies that are thinking about design.

DT: What is the real impact of Austin Design Week?

DB: I think that one of the things that we really want to do is help raise the level of design in Austin. I think when designers are talking to each other across disciplines and having conversations and teaching each other it helps to elevate the practice as a whole, for the city. I also think one of the things that’s been really amazing is that I’ve seen as we host more design weeks is that it brings other people into the city. They’re coming to experience what’s happening with design in Austin. It can help the economy and it can bring in new talent.