Creative loafing

By MARION DAVIS  |  September 3, 2009

To connect young designers to local opportunities — and to one another — the IDSA Rhode Island (idsari.org), the local chapter of the Industrial Designers Society of America, sponsors a regular Young Professionals Night, an informal gathering open to non-designers as well.

For designers in other fields, the AIGA Rhode Island (ri.aiga.org), the local chap-ter of the nation's largest professional organ-ization for design, hosts a free, informal gathering the second Thursday of each month called Design By Night (DxN). Like the Providence Geeks dinners, DxN events feature local artists, designers and advocates in the industry while offering an opportunity to network informally. And again, everyone is welcome to attend and encouraged to participate — non-designers as well.

Periodically, the IDSA, the AIGA, the Geeks and other local groups host a joint gathering known as Concentric that aims to bring all the different "circles" together. Look out for announcements from the different sponsors.

Want to really immerse yourself in design and creativity? A Better World By Design (abetterworldbydesign.com), organized by RISD and Brown students and scheduled for October 2-4, will bring innovators from around the world to Providence to share their stories, teach workshops and lead discussions about the power of design, technology and enterprise to reshape our communities. Admission is $50 for students and $120 for professionals.


PUSHING THE LIMITS OF MUSIC & ART

Much as locals will tell you the Providence music scene is barely a shadow of what it used to be — whether that's true, we won't try to determine here — there's still a lot of great shows to be seen in town, most of which you'll find listed in this paper every week.

To experience music in a whole other way, though, outside the club and bar scene, check out Firehouse 13 (firehouse13.org), which hosts shows right in the heart of its first-floor art gallery and "experimental space." Or for an even more underground scene, head to Pawtucket's Machines With Magnets (machineswithmagnets.com), a recording studio, gallery and performance space that features some of the region's edgiest bands in an intimate, stripped-down setting.

When it comes to art, there's so much going on in town that we can't even begin to list it (AS220 and RISD are good places to start, but don't stop there). One of the most exhilarating creative spaces in Providence, however, is off the beaten path, the Steel Yard (thesteelyard.org), a former industrial ironworks complex that has been transformed into an artists' workshop and education center. Local artists and industrial designers teach classes and lead projects in welding, blacksmithing, ceramics, jewelry, glass casting and the foundry arts. And several times a year, The Steel Yard hosts a series of fundraising events that draw large crowds of artists and other creative types, including the Iron Guild's annual iron pour (scheduled for October 30), billed as a "molten metal spectacular," performance art for pyros.

Next door, every summer, Monohasset Mill (millproject.org), an artist-owned mill converted to live-work condos, holds what is arguably the city's most extravagant party of the year: Woolly Fair, a carnival featuring music, performance art, wild and bizarre costumes, unusual competitions (this year's event, in July, included a tricycle championship) and much more. Preparations for next year are already under way.

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Related: Firehouse 13 gets a facelift, Limits of non-traditional leadership, Brave new RISD, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Visual Arts, Brown University, A Better World By Design,  More more >
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