INTRO LA founder Paul Valentine talks to WGSN about launching a platform for designers.
If you reside on the West Coast of America the LA Design Festival is definitely a must-visit event in your calendar. The annual, citywide celebration of creative talents honours the city’s design community, and it’s fair to say, the almost month-long celebration always goes out with a bang. As part of the festival, one key event makes the most impact and deservedly so, I’m talking about Intro/LA, a free event that integrated design installations from local LA designers, US designers and even some international designers, into one cohesive exhibit.
Held this year at Silverlake’s Mack Sennett Studios, it was organised, curated and hosted by Paul Valentine and his design consultancy small pond. It was Intro/LA’s second year on the west coast, and featured new collections from local designers wrk-shp, waka waka, and Stephen Kenn.
We spoke with Valentine about how the show has evolved since it launched in New York in 2013, and how he’s providing an alternative to the traditional design trade show format.
Tell us about your background in the design world?
I studied furniture and product design at Ravensbourne college in London. Then I worked for leading modern vintage and contemporary design retailers and manufactures, learning the ins and outs of the industry, while gaining a good knowledge of 20th century and contemporary design. This led to me meeting both young and established designers. I’ve been lucky to work with amazing companies and people in the industry.
How has Intro evolved since it first launched in NYC?
It’s grown in size, but it still retains its intimacy and core vision as an alternative experience to the standard trade show format. It continues to provide a platform for designers to launch new products without the expense and stress of a trade show environment. The LA show has found a home at the Mack Sennett studios, but the New York show is more nomadic and grows or is edited to suit the venue.
This is the show’s second year in LA. Why did you decide to stay here as oppose to going back to NYC?
I moved to LA, so it felt natural to make the LA show the larger home event and develop it as something for the design community here. The New York show was only postponed, so we could welcome our baby into world.
How do you select designers?
I try to achieve a balance of Los Angeles-based designers, or US designers, and international brands. I want to show a good cross section of production processes and styles, and of the design industry in general.
The show is aimed to provide an alternative experience to the standard design trade show. What makes it different?
It’s more casual and relaxed. The show is arranged as one installation, not a series of booths. Visitors can spend more time wandering the space and view it as a whole interior, rather than divided segments. The show is not staged in a convention centre, but in a unique historic example of Los Angeles architecture. Also there is no admission fee or sponsors. It’s an independent event that functions as a group show.
Like this? Check out this blog on LA’s Prohibition-era bowling alley which was restored to become a design destination and meeting place for the community.
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