City Design Tour: Calgary

Tara O'Reilly RGD, Brand Strategist + Designer at O'Reilly Design Co., shares the design experience of her city, Calgary.



What makes your city’s design scene unique?

When people think of Calgary, Alberta, they tend to think of oil and gas and the Calgary Stampede, but Calgary is a metropolitan city now. Calgary has always been known for its entrepreneurial spirit, has an up and coming tech scene and an abundance of maker markets year-round. Calgarians are down-to-earth people because of our proximity to and love of the Rocky Mountains and nature. Our design scene is unique because of all of these factors; we embody these qualities. 

Is there a landmark in your city that helps inspire you as a designer?

Our downtown Calgary Library is beautiful, modern and spacious. It has boardrooms that people can rent for free and a space for events which is attached to an auditorium.



Are there any challenges that designers in your city face?

The most common frustration I hear from designers in Calgary is that there is always someone locally who is willing to offer design services for FREE or way too cheap — even to organizations that have money. Calgary is an expensive place to live and anyone offering business services needs to account for that in their rates. And as Calgary grows in its recognition as a destination for arts and culture, life for everyone will get more expensive. So I'd love to see designers be more transparent with each other about financials so we can unite with business models that benefit us all. 

What would designers in your city really benefit from?

I wish Calgary had designer-specific events and social groups for professional designers. It would help build a stronger sense of community. It would also make it easier to branch out and network with professionals in our sister disciplines such as marketing, video production, writing, etc.