Despite the fact that he recently relocated to New York and has a portfolio dotted with high-profile international clients (think Swatch), industrial designer and former University of the Arts (UArts) assistant professor Rama Chorpash maintains a strong footing in Philadelphia’s design community. “One of the things I really miss [about] Philadelphia is its slowness in pace so that you can see what’s going on. There’s a real community,” says Chorpash.
No doubt Chorpash will be soaking up all that he loves about Philly during the annual DesignPhiladelphia fair—an 11-day celebration of design-centric discussions, exhibits and workshops across the city—where he’ll host one of the fair’s Dialogues on Design (October 14) featuring a presentation on the exchange between people and everyday objects. On the importance and originality of the fair he’s helped develop since its inception in 2005, Chorpash notes, “New York or Milan has the furniture fairs, but those are trade shows. [DesignPhiladelphia] is a space to have a lot of conversations. In some ways, I can’t think of a better place to be modeling some of the [most important] questions of our time.”
Chorpash ended his decade-long stint as chair of industrial design at UArts to oversee product design at New York’s prestigious Parsons school for design. In his classes at UArts, Chorpash emphasized to students the importance of their Philadelphia surroundings. “I always made a large effort to do exhibits that engaged with the city in a public realm,” he says. To boot, during his tenure at UArts Chorbash worked on projects in public spaces such as the Reading Terminal Market and the vacant lot at 313 S. Broad Street.
As the fair evolves and draws more and more participants, Chorpash stresses the importance of the its impact on not only Philadelphia, but the design scene as a whole: “For me as a designer, [DesignPhiladelphia] is a critical thing. It’s not just for the Philadelphia region; it’s one of the only designer fairs that’s not directly affiliated with commercialism.”