Meandering down a sidewalk at the edge of Chinatown, through an entryway made out of Tastykake mixing bowls, to pause in front of a melting ice sculpture is something that usually only happens in dreamland after overindulging at Sang Kee. But this fantastical stroll will be brought to life as Pearl Street Passage, part of the city’s annual DesignPhiladelphia Festival. The theme for this year is the elusive “Shift.”
“[The designers] can interpret Shift however they feel. It can be a shift in seasons, a shift in ideology, or a shift in what’s happening in Philadelphia,” says Laura Rennekamp of Groundswell Design Group, who is creating Pearl Street Passage, which she calls the “marquis event of DesignPhiladephia.”
“The city is getting a lot of attention and there’s a lot of construction,” she adds. “Things are happening quickly around here.”
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Pearl Street Passage will stretch out along the 1100 block of Pearl Street for four days during the October festival, with help from 10 teams of artists across all disciplines. The series of installations are each built in up to a 6-by-20-foot space, from an archway of projected emojis to wooden cubes visitors can arrange into a space to listen to a band.
“You have to experience the whole thing,” says Rennekamp. “Half the fun is going from one installation to the next and thinking how someone interpreted the same concept and theme. You have one problem that you’re trying to solve but you can find 10 different ways to solve that problem or design that item.”
DesignPhiladelphia Festival runs Oct. 8 to 16. Find details about projects like teh Pearl Street Passage, plus other events, workshops and exhibits, at 2015.designphiladelphia.org.