No one ever reads these essays. I am surprised your eyes have landed here long enough to read this sentence. So why should you read on? What are you going to learn? Nothing. Instead, I am going to ask you how you feel.

First of all, welcome to the party. It’s a big party where everyone is invited. You may have joined the party from the very beginning, or maybe this is your first time. Do you feel like you can be yourself? Your whole self, not some fake-it-’til-you-make-it ghost version of who you are, but you. Yes. You are in the right place, then. The music is just kicking in. 

Do you feel good?

This festival is an anti-loneliness machine that spreads across our City in the dead of winter, pulling us out of our hibernation and asking us to explore spaces we may never have been. A wood-filled studio space down a dusty alley, an attic in a warehouse, a hotel full of installations, or a museum by the lake. 

Do you feel curious? 

This festival is a space for taking risks. Growing out of Come Up To My Room, which unlearned the false divide between art and design, and fostered, instead, the twin elixirs of creativity: Trust and Risk. DesignTO needs us to take risks. Even when we fear failure, we can trust the festival to make space for us to just try something out. Risk it.

Do you feel passionate?

This festival is a brat. It has grown out of a community that wanted more from its design city. A community that is porous, expelling the notions of exclusivity and the hierarchies of who is allowed in and is left out. It is a festival that has continued to respond to the community, and kept going in the face of the pressures of living in an increasingly expensive and exclusionary City. The festival will not be divided, because it can’t be. It is the impossibly resilient child of many voices coming together. There is no other design festival like it – a festival that has grown out of the will of individual people who need to be heard.

Do you feel inspired?

By Christina Zeidler

Christina Zeidler is the co-founder of Come Up To My Room, the Founder and Creative Director of The Gladstone Hotel, and a rabble rouser who helped spark this very festival.