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5 Awesome Seattle Design Fest Events for Families

Interactive activities get kids in touch with design

Published on: September 05, 2017

Credit: Sonya Purba

“This year’s Seattle Design Festival is all about exploring what role design has to play in elevating everyone’s quality of life,” says Debra Webb, Public Programs Manager of Design in Public.

And "everyone" includes kids, right? So while it may not sound like the sort of thing that would excite kids, nestled among dozens of festival events are several interactive activities that all kinds of families can enjoy, and they may even inspire a career direction for artistically-minded youth.

See our top picks listed below. To find even more family-friendly events and installations included in the Seattle Design Festival, visit the festival’s website for a full listing and filter for “Family Focus.” 


Photo credit: Trevor Dykstra

Block Party

Saturday–Sunday, Sept. 9–10, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., FREE
Occidental Park, 117 S. Washington St., Seattle

Seattle Design Festival launches with the Block Party, a two-day street fair celebrating the powerful ways design affects our lives. This free public event in Occidental Park in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle features 37 large-scale, touchable, interactive art installations from a variety of creators that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, such as the Graffiti Shuttle, a collective art installation that all visitors can contribute to. Time your visit around lunch to take advantage of the area’s food trucks.

Photo credit: Trevor Dykstra

Resurgence: 20th Annual Architectural Model Exhibit

Sept. 14–Nov. 18, Tuesday–Thursday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday, 1–5 p.m., FREE
Center for Architecture & Design, 1010 Western Ave., Seattle

This annual public exhibition of architectural models highlights the ways local designers’ work intersects with the growth of grassroots movements, the changing conceptions of what cities can be and do, and renewed interest in formerly neglected places, spaces and ideas. Younger kids may not engage with such grand ideas, but they are sure to marvel at the detail and precision of these handmade tabletop buildings. Don’t be surprised if they hit the Lego box as soon as you get home.


(PARK)ing Day in Seattle
Photo credit: City of Seattle

PARK(ing) Day

Friday, Sept. 15, 9 a.m.–7 p.m., FREE
Multiple locations

You’ve probably seen this event before, even if you didn’t know it was part of the Design Festival. This is the annual event that turns street parking into pop-up parks, reminding people of all the other things that could be done in the space we now reserve for cars. Parents may resent the loss of parking or imagine life in walkable, healthier cities, but kids will definitely dig being allowed to play in the street.

Photo credit: Letao Tao

Class Action, a design-your-school workshop

Saturday, Sept. 16, Noon–4 p.m., FREE (registration required)
Center for Architecture & Design, 1010 Western Ave, Seattle

Kids know more than anyone else about what it’s like to spend all day at school, but they are rarely involved in the design process — until now. In this workshop, students will work with local architects to collaboratively envision, design and build their dream school.


HCD event Artefact
Photo credit: Artefact

Empowered Youth: Human-Centered Design Beyond Tech

Wednesday, Sept. 20, 6–8 p.m., FREE
ARTEFACT, 619 Western Ave. #500, Seattle

Teens who have been bitten by the design bug will be interested in learning how design is being used to help youth. Coding types may even be familiar with the concept of human-centered design (HCD), but at this event they'll find out about local projects that are using HCD to make life better for young people.

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