San Francisco - SF Design Week 2016

Last month I went to my first, and hopefully not my last, San Francisco (SF) Design Week. This is something I have wanted to experience for many years, so it was wonderful to have finally made it.

SF Design Week was held last month from 2-9 June and included the entire Bay Area from Silicon Valley to the city of San Francisco. In its 10th year, there were more than 60 studio tours and 200 events during the week featuring world-renowned designers, entrepreneurs and innovative thought leaders. 

In the lead up to the event, I had been in contact with Dawn Zidonis, the Executive Director of SF Design Week and American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). Dawn had been incredibly giving of her time and knowledge in helping me plan my SF Design Week experience.  

I was fortunate enough to catch up with Dawn one evening and we chatted about San Francisco and the current state of design and tech.

We talked about how being a designer in San Francisco can be tough. It’s hugely competitive and demanding. If you are not putting in the hours or performing there are plenty of other designers to replace you. Having said that, design is appreciated much more in San Francisco than other parts of the US, with designers generally paid between thirty to fifty percent more than other US cities.  

A lot of time is spent commuting - more so than most of us in Sydney. If you’re working at a tech company and a campus like Google, travel from San Francisco is an hour and a half one-way, which increases to three hours with traffic. Add to this the hours you are working and it is a challenge to maintain the work/lifestyle balance we all strive for. The demand and pressure is high and to me much higher than Australia.

It was pleasing to see how engaged and represented many parts of the design industry are during SF Design Week. The week feels like it is owned by the design industry and the culture of cross discipline sharing is apparent. Something I feel that is missing in Sydney.

San Francisco is going through similar growth to Sydney but for different reasons. People moving to the area to be a part of the start-up/tech culture is driving this growth. The city has a much better community and support for seeking Venture Capital/Funding while in Australia it is more difficult.  

SF Design Week is much more cost effective in comparison to Sydney Design Week or design events like Semi-Permanent. Events at SF Design Week were priced between $5 to $60 per event – and 80% of the ones I attended were either free or $5.

I had a great week in this amazing city and I’m looking forward to sharing further posts in the next couple of weeks from the various events I attended.