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International Festival Brings Cutting-Edge Design to D.C.

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The Next Wave: Industrial Design Innovation in the 21st Century is on view at Artisphere through May 19, 2013
Emily Berman
The Next Wave: Industrial Design Innovation in the 21st Century is on view at Artisphere through May 19, 2013

This year marks the first ever Washington, D.C. International Design Festival. It's a series of public programs at Artisphere, in Rosslyn, Va. The festival is an assortment of film screenings, live panel discussions and an installation of the latest in industrial design from all over the world.

The objects on view, such as the Dyson Bladeless fan, a sofa that looks like a cherry jellybean, and a chest of drawers that opens from all directions, don't look like anything you'd expect in the historic homes of D.C. But, curator and owner of Apartment Zero, Douglas Burton, says it's time to update our super traditional reputation.

"Even though Washington is a traditional city, it has really dramatically changed since I moved here in 1997," Burton says. "I have seen incredible changes in architecture, interior design, the type of products people are buying. You have people who love design just like you have people who love fashion."

And some of the District's design lovers, he says, happen to be design makers as well. There are seven locals represented in the show. One of them is a company called Polygraph Creative, which makes plastic covers for outlets in the shape of a Band-Aid.

Burton also showcases an office chair designed by Jeffrey Jenkins, who works out of northern Virginia.

There are more than 150 pieces in the exhibit, which runs through May 19, 2013.

"You are seeing product designers doing things that are super minimal," he says. "Super whimsical. Over the top. What's happening now is a mix of every style we've seen in industrial design. It's being chewed up, and spit out in a whole new way."

Even though it will take another 50 years, Burton says, before we can say exactly what defined the style of this decade, bringing a design festival here to the nation's capital lets Washingtonians get in on that conversation.


[Music: "Kitty's Waltz" by Caleb Sampson from Fast Cheap & Out of Control]

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