As designers, immersed in our practices, it’s easy to think that everyone understands design and what designers do. But many outside our profession do not. How then to educate the public about design, especially in a fun and engaging way?
SEGD’s Riga Chapter created a way. On October 1, they hosted the city’s first-ever Design Walk. More than 500 people attended this day-long event, visiting 22 different stops and enjoying 32 events. It was easily Riga’s biggest design event of 2020.
Riga is Latvia’s beautiful and historic capital, and the Riga Chapter is one of SEGD’s newest, established just this year. They partnered with Design Studio H2E to organize the Design Walk.
“This was the first Design Walk organized by the SEGD Riga Chapter, so we were pleasantly surprised by the big response from participants and the enthusiastic interest of those in attendance,” said Ingūna Elere, Lead Designer at Design Studio H2E. “Most spots had already been fully booked during the first two weeks of registration, and the walks were attended by a total of about 500 people, confirming that people in Latvia are not only interested in design, but want to discover its diversity and creative and application processes.”
The studios and businesses participating in the Walk opened their doors to visitors as early as 9:00 am, welcoming guests and showcasing their day-to-day operations. Stops along the route included design firms—such as architecture, interior design, and graphic design studios—but also businesses and institutions not directly related to design, such as law offices and government agencies.
“All Design Walk stops were chosen to emphasize their relevance to design and to promote people's understanding of design at a broader scale,” said Dagnija Balode, Chief Business Officer at Design Studio H2E. “We are used to thinking of design in a narrow sense, as a chair, lamp, or clothing. But design needs to be seen on a larger scale.”
Balode shared several examples, including the Vilgerts law firm and the Republic of Latvia’s Patent Office. Both stops presented resources available to designers to protect their designs under the law. These included a range of legal protections from image copyrights to design patents.
Perhaps one unexpected stop along the route was the Riga Russian Theater. Here, the theater’s staff presented the importance of stage design, lighting design, and costume design in creating theatrical productions. Visitors had the opportunity to learn about scenography and could also participate in creating stage design themselves.
Similarly, attendees visiting the various design firms along the Design Walk learned firsthand, from the designers themselves, about design approaches, processes, and applications.
“I liked the initiative and format of the Design Walk with a wide range of represented industries and topics,” said one Design Walk attendee about the different stops along the route. “It was a very interesting insight into the daily work of companies. The observed one-hour format was completely sufficient so visitors would not lose attention, as well as be able to participate in discussions with company representatives.”
Keeping Covid-19 in mind, the SEGD Riga Chapter and Design Studio H2E implemented safety measures for everyone participating in the Design Walk, both hosts and visitors. These measures included a maximum of 15 to 20 people at each stop during a pre-scheduled one-hour timeframe.
“We, as organizers, tried very hard to make sure the Design Walk was not only interesting and well attended, but also safe for all the parties involved,” said Balode. “We set a maximum number of people at each event. We also provided advanced registration, and all stops were informed about the number of visitors and the specifics of the audience so they could better prepare themselves.”
In addition to visiting the studios, businesses, and organizations along the route, guests also had the opportunity to attend designed-themed events and talks covering a range of topics, including “Problems and Solutions in Digital Outdoor Advertising,” “Advice on Design Protection,” and Design and Technology: the Impact of Light on a Person’s Well-Being.”
“As part of the Design Walk, I attended four lectures, which in general included quite different types of disciplines and approaches to design,” said a Latvian student who is currently studying design in London. “In my opinion, this is the most valuable benefit of this type of event.”
By many accounts, the Riga Design Walk was a big success! And the design community in Riga is already looking forward to hosting next year’s event.
“We are very honored that SEGD Riga Chapter invited us to participate in this year's Design Walk,” said Iveta Bahmane, the CEO of the Mūkusala Business Center, one stop along the route. “There was a great response to this project, judging by what I saw myself when I visited the other design stops, as well as by the fact that all tickets for the events had been sold out. I look forward to next year's design stops!”
Want to know more about the Riga Design Walk?
Contact Dagnija Balode, Chief Business Officer at Design Studio H2E, via email at [email protected]
Also, connect with the SEGD Riga Chapter on social media:
Participating stops along the 2020 Riga Design Walk:
NRJA/MAD Architecture Space
River Breeze Residence and architect Ventis Didrihsons
Vilgerts (law offices)
Cube (digital product design agency)
Companies including Groglass, JCDecaux Latvija, Kerama Marazzi, Krassky, Noble Wine, SAP Latvia and Schneider Electric
Latvian Architecture Museum
Museum of Decorative Art and Design
Republic of Latvia Patent Authority
Mikhail Checkov Riga Russian Theatre
Origo Shopping Centre
Origo One Business Centre
Mūkusala Business Centre
About the SEGD Riga Chapter:
The SEGD Riga Chapter was founded at the start of 2020 by Design Studio H2E in response to an invitation from the international non-profit organization SEGD. Its goal is to foster the development and public awareness of Latvian design at domestic and international levels. One of the SEGD Riga Chapter’s main tasks is to organize experience swapping and educational events for design industry professionals and members of the public, and to stimulate discussion about quality design in society as a whole, generating demand for high level design.
Globally, SEGD unites over 2,000 members including architects, graphic designers, interior designers, industrial and digital designers, brand and experience builders, manufacturers and educators.