As part of this fall’s inaugural Seattle Design Festival running from Friday, 9/16 through Sunday, 9/25, AIGA Seattle invited 25 of our city’s design firms to participate in Design Marks—a trail of 8-foot tall location markers where viewers experience how the design of Seattle’s urban landmarks has influenced the city’s culture, and how that culture has, in turn, influenced design.
We were honored to participate in this historic event, and in turn chose to pay homage to Seattle’s 619 Arts Building on Western Ave., which has been a bastion for artists and patrons since 1979. Upon embarking on this project, we discovered the building was in the midst of a controversial eviction where its tenants were forced to vacate by October due to structural reinforcements from the Viaduct Replacement and Tunnel Project. This month marks the end of 32 years as an artist loft and a rich creative outlet in the Seattle community—we had to create something truly special to mark this transition.
From the beginning, we were committed to going beyond simply wrapping the location marker with graphics of our interpretation of the location. We chose to invite the community to be co-authors in creating a dialogue about art, the building and its role in the city’s culture. We think this truly celebrates the spirit of the 619 Arts Building by making the location marker an expression of art, and a "canvas" for visitors to become participants and share their voice with the broader community.
The Design Mark is essentially a "sound sculpture" enigmatically covered top to bottom with over 200 white arcade-style buttons. One discoverable red button prompts visitors to record a message through a small, nearly invisible microphone. Each response is recorded, and can be played back as a collective dialogue that will evolve over the 10-day festival. The marker includes a QR code that takes users to a teaser video featuring the 619 Arts Building, which is narrated by some of the tenants of the building.