American Field

Whether you realize it or not everything is designed.  Clothes, houses, handbags, street signs, toothbrushes, toilet paper rolls… design goes into everything.  While I’m not a designer by any right, I really love learning about design and it’s practical applications.   So, for me something like American Field was an ideal opportunity to do some active learning.

This weekend marked the third annual American Field, a pop-up market of American Made hand crafted goods.  Its not a craft fair and “It’s not a trade show.  It’s a celebration of trade featuring vendors, music, food, drink, live demos, workshops, speakers and more…” according to their website.

Held in the Innovation and Design Building which is a commercial space designed for mixed use in the “Innovation District,” or as it is also known in Boston the “Seaport neighborhood,” American Field is part of the American Made movement which has been growing in popularity.   American Made emphasizes educating consumers about buying quality products made by skilled craftsmen, and women, in America as a way to help rebuild the economy.

There was food, drinks and music.  Harpoon had a tent with a special brew in their Beer Garden and there were food trucks-a-plenty.  You could check out the Design Museum, (which I had not previously known about) which currently has an exhibit about design projects by companies in Boston.  But, browsing the stalls of vendors set up along the front of the building was the main event.  There was everything from home goods-to clothing-to accessories.  Everything was a little retro and very American in flavour, like something from my grandparents time.  While i’m sure they would laugh at me if I said this to them, it gave the afternoon an extra cool kind of vibe.

There were lectures as well, and I lucked out because one was starting as I happened to walk by.  Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co, gave a funny, heartfelt and fascinating 45 minute talk about his personal and professional evolution into the internationally recognized design figure he is today.   Hailing from the Midwest Draplin has the kind of unassuming candor that we don’t often get around here.   His designs are deceptively simple and proudly American.  Listening to him talk about the trials and tribulations of his at times circuitous route to where he is today was as inspiring as it was entertaining, and to be honest it was one of the best parts of my visit.

While there was a lot to take in, perhaps the surprise highlight of my visit to American Field was the Innovation and Design Building its self.  It is historic, absolutely beautiful and worth visiting for it’s own sake.