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As forums for design professionals become increasingly more fluid the New York social scene does its best to showcase live design rockstars in several events.

The F train to Park Slope at rush hour isnt always the best place to find a designer, though many times it is.  But recently events that provide creative marketplaces have been dotting my social calendar.  These new forums allow for free trade in creative stock and provide competition to drive talent past corporate boundaries.

Recently I attended the Iron Designer, an event curated by Mitch Joachim, Ionna Theocharopoulou, and Gavin Browning as a continuation of ECOGRAM: The Sustainability Question.   Teams from four NYC graduate architecture programs went head to head in an IRON CHEF type competition.  Participants were charged with the task to successfully solve a problem, concentrating on sustainability, in one hour.  Teams presented renderings, models, and hand drawings illustrating their solutions to link two recently reclaimed public spaces under the Manhattan Bridge in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Ultimately, the City College of New York beat out the teams from Pratt, Parsons, and Columbia.

The event itself took place in a SPACEBUSTER, a large bubble bursting out of the back of a mail truck that can comfortably fit around one hundred people.  The space allowed for four work stations and provided each team with walls on which to project their work during presentation.  Most presentations illustrated designs with multiple programs concentration on both social and ecological sustainability.  Creative effort ran high, though reality was easily dismissed as designs eclipsed buildablity and usefulness for such an urban environment.  For example, the Columbia team presented several large Balls that could be entered by multiple people and moved through group collaboration (think American Gladiators).  Obviously this whimsical programing becomes more desirable than a large scale composting program (Parsons), though it is ultimately impossible.  I mean, consider the insurance alone.

The annual Cut&Paste tournament follows a similar format to showcase the graphic arts.   A 16-city touring design competition that puts graphic, 2-D, 3-D, and motion designers up against each other in much the same way.  See the NYC event photos here: (   On March 21st, Webster Hall provided a setting free from the constraints of the corporate marketplace where branding and visual design could scream right past what would be traditionally presentable to clientele, thus shooting talent to the forefront and leaving plausibility in the dust.

Again, time constraint was implemented to create a pressure cooker for participants and increased the enjoyability for spectators.  However, it also presented the question of what makes a designer most valuable in an agency setting.  Creativity is important, but so is speed and up to date program knowledge.  How quickly you can complete an assignment often overshadows the need for heavy creative input, deadlines are deadlines and you can't always reconsider.  When the time was up, this deadline offered one question: how creative were you? 

I'll look forward to more events along this line.  Its refreshing to find happenings where the creative drive can be showcased in a professional and inspirational way, but in a social setting.  Lets face it, a giant bubble under a bridge and Webster Hall are always more fun than the office. 



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