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Photo courtesy of Rebecca Grant

Meet the Women Taking Over Denver Design Week

The week-long event spotlights not only objects, parks, and buildings, but also shines a spotlight on the people behind them.

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In the iconic 2006 film, The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly said of fashion designers: “What they created was greater than art because you live your life in it.” That isn’t only true of fashion designers. Design is everywhere—from product design to architecture, we live our lives surrounded by it. And on October 17–25, Denver Design Week will host 3,000 guests, 14 tours, and more than 50 speakers from around the world to celebrate all the ways design impacts our lives. 

This year, the schedule is packed with Miranda Priestlys, not in demeanor, but in accomplishment. These women pursued their design projects with such fire that they have made it to the top of their fields. Meet five of them below and mark your calendars to learn more from their incredible stories during the fourth-annual Denver Design Week.

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Lindsey Kruger, founder of NIVAS
Kruger was just a local Denver interior designer before she visited Nepal. There she saw the devastation caused by the 2015 earthquake. Homes in remote villages had been destroyed, but with unpaved mountain roads and unstable powerlines, the villagers had little hope of rebuilding. She founded NIVAS with the goal of helping families construct new houses and teach earthquake-resistant techniques. Since April 2015, they have repaired 100 percent of the damage houses, creating new homes for 311 people. 

Session: I Think We’re in Heaven: A Wild Ride to Build 68 Homes in Three Years; Friday, October 18, 6–8:30 p.m.; WeWork Tabor Center, 1200 17th St., 27th floor; $10

Débora Mesa Molina, principal architect at Ensamble Studio
When Molina looks at a cement barrier or a pile of crushed rocks, she sees potential. That pylon became the support system, ceiling, and even the swimming pool of her own home. The rocks became a free-standing wall for the General Society of Authors and Publishers Central Office in Spain, entirely supported by gravity. Molina has become a pioneer in architecture by recycling overlooked materials into awe-inspiring buildings. 

Session: Women in Design Presents: Radical Craft; Thursday, October 24, 5:30–8 p.m.; Space Gallery Annex, 95 S. Cherokee St.; $40–$300

Qin Li, vice president of design at fuseproject
Learning design in China meant Li learned how to imitate, but she wanted to invent. When she moved to San Francisco, the hub of innovation, she was challenged to create the best-designed everyday objects. At fuseproject, she has worked to create the best office chair, the best baby bassinet and the Jawbone fitness tracker, and in the process has risen to the top of the company and earned many prestigious awards.

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Session: Keynote: Design is Responsibility; Friday, October 25, 6–8:30 p.m.; Space Gallery Annex; $10

Shujan Bertrand, founder and CEO at Aplat Inc.
Bertrand had her epiphany when she bought a beautiful flower bouquet, only to have the stems wrapped in ugly, unnatural cellophane. That moment she had the idea for a reusable garden tote, and Aplat Inc. was born. Now the business makes reusable fabric bowl covers to replace glad wrap, bread totes to replace the paper baguette bags from the bakery, and many other sustainable products. She uses the principles of origami to create culinary items that are designed for a zero-waste lifestyle. 

Session: From Zero to Circular—A Greater Sustainable Future; Thursday, October 24, 1–3 p.m.; Space Gallery Annex; $10

Bonnie Bridges, principal at Studio BBA
Work has changed, and the office has had to shift with the needs of modern employees. Bridges explores changing workplace trends and how architecture can create a space for better, more productive thinking. Her firm’s design of Checkr’s San Francisco headquarters kept perspective, function and Checkr’s value and culture alive throughout the floors.  

Session: Humanizing The Modern Office; Wednesday, October 23, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Haworth Showroom, 1515 Arapahoe #100; $10

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