Ah, St. Louis Design Week!

On October 7th, St. Louis Design Week kicks off it’s 7th year in existence and I thought I would share some thoughts on the on the event.

First. Happy Birthday St. Louis Design Week. You’re beautiful and we love you. You have done more to bring together a sense of community for our design scene than anything I’ve seen in my time. From giant parties, to underground ping-pong tournaments, to tiny open houses where only a couple people showed up, everything, and every little effort mattered.

The energy, time, and dollars that go toward St. Louis Design Week makes our scene feel cohesive and united. To me, that’s important.

It’s important to know that you can have a viable career doing something that you love. It’s important to show that design and creativity are skills that are worth something in the world. It’s important to know you can do all that in St. Louis.

That last one is the hard part. Our city hasn’t been in the news for creativity lately. Design Week isn’t going to fix that. In the face of some of our city’s problems, design can feel pretty insignificant. People all over the world have already made up their mind about who St. Louis is.

But this week isn’t for them. It’s for us.


Q: “What are the boundaries of Design?”

A: “What are the boundaries of problems?”
– Charles Eames.


One of my favorite definitions of design is, “A designer is anyone who takes the current situation and makes it more favorable.” That’s what we’re pushing for. Improvement.

Honestly, my involvement with St. Louis Design Week has been selfish from the beginning. I wanted to be part of something that made me feel good about the place I live, and about my scene here. I wanted to help improve something that I have always considered to be pretty fragmented. I wanted to do it for myself.

I just want to live in a city that celebrates designers. Sometimes you have to throw a damn party for yourself.

If Design Week had one goal, it would be to make St. Louis more favorable. To make it better. To make the talented, creative people that choose to call this city home feel good.

It’s to hang out, meet new people, listen to great stories, and feel connected to something bigger than your everyday.

Major credit to Eric Thoelke, Tracy Moore, and Deanna Kuhlmann for founding St. Louis Design Week seven years ago. I am a giant fan and envious of your vision.


Second. This is been a weird year for St. Louis Design Week. I didn’t want to do it again. I was a done. I’m busy. I have a business. I have 3 kids. I have a pile of personal projects I want to get started on. I still haven’t beaten Fallout 4. I barely even play it. My writing has dried up. My friends and co-workers are sick of me projecting my Design Week projects onto them. They told me so. They want out. Some of us don’t work together anymore. One died. It was an easy out this year.

But I’m doing it again. There’s no new branding. There’s no new website. We have no tote bags to hand out, and no major corporate sponsorship.

But we do have a model. We have a system to make things happen. Most importantly, we have an audience. We have a bad-ass community of people that are willing to help, donate, and support our scene. We have a voice.

I hope to see you around at some of the events this year. They are going to be great.

And I’d like to thank my co-chair, cohort, and good friend Tara Nesbitt for her support, time and endless energy again this year. She moves mountains.

-Mike Spakowski




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