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Designing Rhode Island's economic future
By Jessica David / September 15, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...

“Design always starts with something to be solved,” says Libby Slader, principal of Libby Slader Interior Design. Rhode Island is lucky to have a community of problem solvers, united by DESIGNxRI.

Our state has the third-highest percentage of design- and arts-related jobs per capita in the country—following only New York and California. Between 2007 and 2012, more than 500 design companies started here. But the sector, composed mostly of companies made up of one to five people, has been highly fragmented.

DESIGNxRI aims to change that by connecting the vast pool of design talent and making the broader community aware that design-driven businesses play a key role in the state’s economy. “Our goal is to galvanize the design community, to create more opportunities, and nurture growth in Rhode Island,” says DESIGNxRI co-founder Kelly Taylor of Kelly Taylor Interior Design. The initiative sprang out of our Make It Happen RI event in 2012. “We were hatching the plan right there,” says DESIGNxRI co-founder Slader.

A combination of design, technology, and industry will be a key component in Rhode Island’s overall economic development, creating more work and more jobs for local designers. Ultimately, it could make Rhode Island the place to come for design.

That’s why we’ve invested in DxRI as part of our economic security portfolio. Design is an important industry, unique to our assets and heritage, and one that has the power to enhance every aspect of our economy and quality of life. DESIGNxRI has brought collaboration, creativity, and experimentation to discussions of Rhode Island’s future. We have the opportunity to help design businesses grow through promotion in- and out-of-state, and Rhode Island designers can help other local companies innovate and adapt.


Focusing on the impact of design, DESIGNxRI will be hosting the second annual Design Week RI from September 16–27. The 11+ days of events bring together top design talent and resources at multiple events around the state.

It is the only event of its kind to highlight all design disciplines: apparel, architecture, furniture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, interactive design, jewelry, and landscape architecture. It is bookended by the Business Innovation Factory and Better World by Design. It features a statewide open house of maker spaces and fabrication labs located in Rhode Island – highlighting the connection between our design and manufacturing assets.

DESIGNxRI has partnered with the RI Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects for PARK(ing) Day; the American Institute of Graphic Arts RI for Pixels of Fury, a live design competition; the American Society of Interior Designers for a Community Kickoff; and the American Institute of Architects for a Design Pub Crawl.

Design Week RI culminates with the 2nd Annual Rhode Island Design Hall of Fame Party, celebrating those designers who have shown a lifetime of achievement, commitment, and mentorship within Rhode Island’s design community. Last year’s inductees included architect Stephen Durkee, industrial designers Martin Keen and Aidan Petrie, and urban designer/architect William D. Warner.

“Design Week is not just for designers,” says Taylor. “We want the public to come, to experience the remarkable design talent here in Rhode Island.”

We hope you’ll take DESIGNxRI up on that invitation! Check out the full lineup of activities.

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