For the first time since 2011, I attended one of these international events pre-dominantly as a participant rather than as a curator/facilitator of a project.
That said, my roles as UK Performance Design Commissioner for OISTAT and Honorary Secretary of SBTD were therefore much more to the fore than at WSD 2013 and PQ 2011 and 2015.
It is often at these events that the most significant conversations with colleagues and friends from home occur as we allow ourselves time to observe and consider where our own practice might sit amongst this exciting international cacophony of stimulus.
Travelling to such an event in peak season comes with some considerable costs attached even though as a voting delegate at World Congress, both OISTAT and SBTD offer some nominal support.
Fortunately, I was included in a first application to Arts Council England by The Designers Formation to support a group of us from the agency to attend. To our surprise and delight, our application was successful.
It is too early to say how this trip will directly impact on my practice but my pre-occupation with hawkers, street traders and markets continues and as with my trip to the E-scapes conference in Brazil back in 2014, it was fascinating to explore a city at a time when the impact of global travel and economics has yet to impact enough to push the ‘petit-metiérs’ completely out of the regenerating city centre.
The gentle friction of these co-existing architectural contrasts is a fragile eco-system I can’t help but feel won’t exist for much longer as Starbucks and their ilk begin to establish themselves for an aspirant middle class.
Within this frame of reference it felt appropriate that we have finally been able to constitute the Space Design Sub-commission to sit alongside sub-commissions in Costume, Lighting and Sound under the umbrella of the Performance Design Commission. As Co-chair with my colleague Rob Eastman-Mullins (USA), we hope to welcome colleagues from around the world to help us to shape this group into a body of people that actively seek to explore intersections between performance design, architecture, the public realm and many other disciplines.