Now in its fifth year, Philadelphia’s homegrown design festival is almost overwhelmingly chock-full of great exhibits, fantastic openings, and terrific lectures. Here are our picks for this year’s top to-dos — get to one or more, and you can consider yourself design-savvy. Note: The super-green events are starred. (For a complete list of DesignPhiladelphia calendar, see designphiladelphia.org.)
1. Yesterday the Welcome House, a 10-foot-by-10-foot translucent box in Love Park, debuted its artist-led, audience-inspired exhibits. It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s within walking distance of everything. Don’t miss. (This is going to be the one everyone talks about.) Open through Oct 13, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
2. Today the Marketplace Design Center opens up its typically to-the-trade showrooms to decorator wannabes (e.g. yours truly) for a super-rare, no-holds-barred sample sale from the likes of Marc Phillips, Lee Jofa, and Brunschwig & Fils. Friday, October 9, 9 a.m. –5 p.m. 2400 Market Street, 215-561-5000.
3. This afternoon, Harry Allen, industrial designer extraordinaire (remember the golden banana bowl?), will offer pearls of wisdom at the Center for Architecture. Look out for a plug for Corian (he did the new showroom at the Marketplace) and hints at the next big must-have for your own modern abode. Friday, October 9, 4–6 p.m.. Center for Architecture, 1218 Arch Street, 215-951-5338.
4. Everyone who’s anyone in Old City — OLC, Artemide, Cereal Art, Third Street Habit — has bedecked displays to compete in Windows Throughout Old City. The kickoff party is tonight at Dane Décor (5 – 9 p.m., 315 Arch Street, 215-922-6656,); but you have until the 13th to pick a winner of your own.
5. Furniture god George Nakashima no longer walks among us. But his woodworking daughter Mira does, and she’ll be talking about her legacy tonight, while standing among some of her father’s earliest and rarest works, on display at Moderne Gallery. 6 – 9 p.m. 111 N. 3rd Street, 215-923-8536.
*6. Not all of us are hip to the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby, truly the trendiest frolic of the year. But we can get in on the how-to via an exhibition of past competitors at the just-done Skybox at 2424 Studios. Opening Friday, October 9 at 6 p.m., 2424 E. York Street, kinetickensington.org.
*7. Restoration is all about loving reuse — and Ingrid Abramovitch’s new hardcover book takes us inside some of the world’s most strikingly restored city dwellings. Meet her, and buy her book, at Minima tonight. Friday, October 9, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m., 118 N. 3rd St., 215-922-2002.
*8. Buy local might be the most powerful (and most fun) eco-mantra. Penn’s School of Design presents a gaggle of works by Philly-based manufacturers and artisans — until late tonight. Friday, October 9, 6-11 p.m. Meyerson Hall, Lower Gallery, 220 S. 34th Street, phillyworks.net.
*9. Like Anthropologie? Love Terrain? Don’t think. Just go — early — to Queen Lane for Groundwork’s rustic-chic sale of vintage wall art, reclaimed wood tables, industrial lighting, and more drool-over adornments. Saturday, October 10, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. 409 W. Queen Lane, botanicalstyle.com.
*10. While you’re on that side of the city, stop by the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education to check out their amazing woodland shelters (seriously, like little fantasy forest fairy homes!). On display for a while, but it’ll be fun to see them during this week. 8480 Hagy’s Mill Road, 215-482-7300, ext 113.
*11. Up Fishtown way, super-cool artisan-builders Bench Dog Design open their studio to guests/fans of their custom modern wooden furnishings, built with old joists, beams and lumber. (This is where the very cool kids will be.) Saturday, October 11, noon to 4 p.m., 2212 Sepviva Street.
*12. Combining Fashion and Design weeks, Arcadia Boutique’s third-annual So Re Fa (Socially Responsible Fashion) fashion show feels shockingly Bryant Park-like. A serious accomplishment, considering the models are all wearing eco-friendly fashions. Saturday, October 11, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m., North Bowl, 909 N. 2nd Street.
*13. Last year’s uber-popular Swap-O-Rama Rama is back at Old Pine Community Center, where $20 and a bag of old clothes will get you free silkscreening, creative reuse workshops, and craft ideas galore. Saturday, October 11, noon to 5 p.m., 401 Lombard Street.