AIGA Seattle Design Festival

Seattle’s Inaugural Design Festival took place September 16-25, 2011. It was an amazing undertaking that included lectures, tours, exhibits, films and street installations.

I was part of the AIGA Design Festival committee that concepted the idea of Design Marks—a trail of 8-foot tall location markers where viewers experienced how the design of Seattle’s urban landmarks has influenced the city’s culture, and how that culture has, in turn, influenced design. Twenty-five of the city’s leading design firms were invited to design an individual marker as well as a 30-90 second companion video.

Because we love a good laugh and ribald humor, the team here at Q&A focused on the former Lusty Lady marquee. In a city where people go to great lengths to be distant and proper, the LL marquee did just the opposite. It was a ray of wicked sunshine on our normally gray days.

Through research we learned all we could about the area formerly known as “Flesh Avenue,” its inevitable gentrification and the fight against big developers in 2006 to tear down the LL home for more condos. We also learned about the sweet love affair with the Seattle Art Museum. Many marquees were dedicated to SAM exhibits—some at the request of SAM staff. While developers couldn’t get to LL, the Internet did. After more than 25 years, she “clothed” for good due to the failing economy and online competition.

In Erika Langley’s 1997 book “The Lusty Lady,” she talks about the empowerment, strength and camaraderie she found as a LL dancer. Erika is a photographer who approached the management to do a photo essay and was told she had to become a dancer herself first. She spent 12 years there.

Since we weren’t making a Ken Burns PBS mini-series, we kept our story pinpointed on the humor of the marquee. After compiling a multitude of marquees, we chose our favorites to adorn the location marker. Flickr has hundreds of photos (warning: naughty puns) of the marquee under their creative commons usage. This gave us ample imagery for our video.

Favorite marquee? “We’d like to spank the Academy”

Too see all of the Design Marks videos, visit the AIGA Seattle Youtube Channel.