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Is sitting the new smoking? What sane way is there to cope with Seattle’s phenomenal growth? And if you see a “Mobile Couch Armada” coming toward you, should you jump out of the way or climb aboard?

These questions and many others will be addressed at the Seattle Design Festival, which runs Sept. 5-19, 2014, at various venues around town. The festival uses workshops, tours, films, lectures, panel discussions and parties to celebrate “the ways design makes life better.”

The declared theme is “Design in Motion!” — with “motion” referring not just to place-to-place mobility but to trajectories through time.

One exhibit runs throughout the festival: “Runners’ World,” exploring how architecture and urban infrastructure can be integrated “to better accommodate the moving body in a growing city” (10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, Sept. 5-19, AIA Seattle Gallery, 1911 First Ave., Seattle).

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Also of note is “Showcase14: Seattle Design,” billed as “a curated experiential marketplace” featuring a juried selection of designer work riffing on the festival’s “Design in Motion!” theme (noon-5 p.m. Sept. 6-7; noon-2 p.m. Sept. 8 and 10; 5-8 p.m. Sept. 9 and 11, and 8 p.m.-midnight Sept. 12, 220 S. Jackson St., Seattle).

Seattle Architecture Foundation’s “In Process: Annual Architectural Model Exhibit” will run 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, Sept. 12-Oct. 3 at 407 Union St., Seattle. It uses architectural renderings, hand-drawn sketches, models and animations to explore “how design happens.” (Note: “In Process” will be open on Sept. 14 during the festival.)

Dozens of events are also scheduled. Some are free. Others — notably the architectural tours — run between $10 and $30. The top five attractions to my eye are:

SDF2014 Block Party (10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 6 and 7, Occidental Plaza and Occidental Avenue South): Oddball highlights include that “Mobile Couch Armada” (a fleet of motorized couches fresh from a visit to Burning Man) and “CREAT. T. UR. E.,” a “massive inflatable installation” in Nord Alley where “Urbanauts” will “exploit the perceived physical space of the alley by manipulating its form” (I guess you’ll have to check it out to see what that means).

City in Motion (5 p.m. Sept. 6, Little London Plane, 322 Occidental Ave. S.): A discussion of how Seattle, the fastest growing city in the country, can become “a place where people of all ages and incomes can affordably live, work, travel, and thrive.” The focus will be on the relationships between “planning/urban design/architecture/mobility” and “well-being/ happiness/work/play.”

Current Perspectives on Sitting (noon-1 p.m., Sept. 10, Watson Seattle Design Studio, 71 Columbia St., Suite 100, Seattle): Alarmed by reports that sitting all day is as bad as smoking and can aggravate such chronic conditions as diabetes and heart disease? This panel discussion will focus on office designs that “promote a culture of movement in the workplace.”

Dance This Way (6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Sept. 12, 1400 Western Ave., Seattle; free, 21 and over). Roaming performances of dance and music celebrate the opening of Waterfront Space, a showroom for Waterfront Seattle, the project that will open up and reinvent Seattle’s waterfront, post-viaduct.

SDF2014 Conference (10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept 13-14, Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle): Twenty free programs, including panel discussions, lectures, workshops and film screenings, covering topics that range from “recapturing” Seattle’s 149 designated shoreline street ends so they serve the public better to updates on local and international projects of Architects Without Borders-Seattle.

For complete details on the dozens of events on the schedule, go to

Michael Upchurch:

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