Tampa Bay Design Week 2018 / by Louis Holstein

From the web...

"Tampa Bay Design Week brings together designers, enthusiasts, community leaders, and citizens to celebrate and explore how design improves the quality of our lives and our community. Launched in 2014, Design Week takes place each fall and includes a collection of design-related events hosted by several like-minded organizations working together to promote the design disciplines. Included are numerous tours, presentations, installations, films, round-tables, events, family activities and more, all with the goal of exposing the community to design."

This was the first time I was able to participate in TBD Week and it was such a source of inspiration for me. I first attended the lecture "Murals and Property Owners" where muralists discussed the impact of public art and how easy it is to bring murals to private property. I left the lecture feeling empowered and reminded of the importance of public art. (They didn't stay away from the controversial topic of gentrification, which is crucial to the conversation about public art.)  

The next day Ashley and I were able to attend the "Tampa Public Art Stroll" which put the lecture I attended the previous night, into a practical showcase of the fantastic public art Tampa has to offer. 

The last event I attended was the "NO VACANCY Pop-Up Festival" in Ybor. Here we were submerged in interactive art exhibits and introduced to the power of design. Below are some of my favorite pieces. 

"Cuban Roots"

This was a take on sustainable living via a re-imagined herb garden made for commercial and industrial areas like Ybor. The herb garden, made of organic and recycled materials, was filled with Cuban oregano, mint, cilantro and many other herbs traditionally used in Cuban cuisine as an homage to the city’s roots.

"The Ribbon"

The team of USF students created pockets of inhabitable space and rethought the concept of ‘walls’ and ‘canopies’. This installation segmented the existing space with panels and a canopy stretching overhead to create a sense of privacy in the alleyway installation.


This installation was meant to attract visitors into unvisited places in Ybor. Set in an alleyway, it consisted of illuminated wood panels which provided seating, shaded by organic fabric, the elements made the space more inviting.


This intervention challenged the perception of alleyways. They are normally perceived as accidental spaces between buildings; dark, dirty, and backdrops to crime. This installation was inspired by the notion of lanterns to redefine the spaces into a safe, inhabitable social hub. The installation can act as an alternative path defined by seating. The effort explored different types of relationships between illumination and structure. At last, the installation addressed both the use during the day and night. Daily walks through this neglected space can become a highlight for Ybor exploration and or a gathering area for the community.

"Muhndi Intervention"

The intention of this installation was to tell the story of Ybor through chaptered interventions throughout the urban fabric.  The main installation functioned according to the concept of T.W.I.R.L. (Think, Walk, Interact, Relax and Learn). Each person had the opportunity to complete small assignments that will lead them to better interact with the pop-up park as well as develop a unique memory map of the city of Ybor. 

I loved Tampa Bay Design Week because it challenged my ideas of what Public Art can contribute to a society. Art connects people in deep ways. It reminds us that deep down we all want the same thing: to be a part of a beautiful world. I'm so grateful for the Tampa Bay Art team that put this week together and I look forward to next year. For more info click here!