“How Venezuela’s Espacios de Paz Project is Transforming Community Spaces”


ArchDaily recently featured a photoblog of “Espacios de Paz” (Spaces for Peace) project in Venezuela. Organized by local Venezuelan firm PICO Estudio, the six-week workshop involved architecture collectives turning “zones of danger” into “zones of peace” through participatory design. Completed in August, the installations intend to teach community members on how to work independently to “transform their reality” and strengthen neighborhood cohesion.

By transforming unused spaces such as empty plots and unregulated landfill areas, the projects sought to create “social dynamics that invite new ways of living in communities, transforming categories that rule the daily life: the use of time and space.” Community involvement in project development was also key to the Espacios de Paz initiative, which sought to  create “a space built not only “for” the community but “by” the community.”

Click here to read more about Espacios de Paz on ArchDaily.com, or click here to read the full project profile on Archinect.com.

AIGA Announce 2014 “Justified” Winners


The fourth annual AIGAJustified” competition for design efficacy announced 19 winning entries selected from a pool of over 600 applicants. From civic wayfinding programs to K-12 curriculum in Peru to a sustainability treehouse, the broad range of design solutions each uniquely represent “effective” design–that is, attention to Craft, Clarity and Context. With this in mind, this year’s jury–Christopher Simmons, Dana Arnett, Kate Aronowitz, Cameron Campbell, Joe Gebbia, Jennifer Kinon, and Jeremy Mende–considered the questions of: “Did the work do its job? Is it effective? well-crafted? beautifully executed?” All 19 winners are now featured a AIGA Case Studies.

Designers’ unique capacity for seeing problems from unexpected angles—as well as their creativity and empathy for the human experience—is in high demand. AIGA believes that a competition built around the case study format, rather than one built around the selection of artifacts, offers a more effective means of revealing how designers have approached clients’ problems, with all of the attendant constraints.

Click here to read more about the 2014 AIGA Justified winners, online at AIGA.org.

“Reflecting on LEAP: One Year Later”


Designmatters Associate Director Jennifer May shares her experiences managing the first LEAP Symposium, which took place a year ago at Art Center College of Design. As an MBA grad in a room with design educators, students, practitioners, and thought leaders, Jennifer brought a unique perspective to the conversation around career pathways for designers in social innovation.

This was my first introduction to the world of design, and I was inspired and intrigued by the free flow of conversation, the openness, the endless ideas generated, and the prolific use of post-its to find the connections between these ideas. (Side note: when ordering supplies for LEAP, I ordered more post-its than I thought 150 people could ever use. At the end of the event, there were only a few sad sticky notes left).

On the final day of LEAP, we held an “Innovation Fair,” where groups shared their ideas for advancing design careers in social innovation… After the Innovation Fair, LEAP attendees shared their actionable commitments for forging career pathways in social innovations… it will be really exciting to track these ideas and commitments throughout the next iterations of LEAP, to see which “what ifs” become reality.

Click here to read Jennifer’s full blog post on DesignMattersAtArtCenter.org. To learn more about the biennial LEAP Symposium scheduled for late 2015 at MICA, visit LEAPSymposium.org.

3 Ways Fellowships Strengthen Community Design—and Why We Need More of Them


Guest post written by Katie Swenson, Vice President of Design at Enterprise Community Partners

In the Spring of 2000, I was about to graduate with my Masters degree in Architecture, and, like my peers, was job hunting, trying to figure out my next move. During school, I had volunteered with a local community development non-profit and fell in love with the work. I became drawn to the real challenges facing everyday people in our city, and I learned first hand the critical role great affordable housing plays in stabilizing lives and in strengthening neighborhoods. I saw that community members had little say in the policies and decisions made by city hall and I thought that design – and designers – could be play a significant role in community advocacy. I fantasized that I would open the Want Ads (they still had those then) and read “SEEKING: COMMUNITY ARCHITECTS.” Alas, that category didn’t exist. More

SEED and LEED Announce Collaboration


The environmental design rating program LEED has recently incorporated Social Equity Pilot Credits and the SEED Evaluator has been selected as one of three reward systems, along with Enterprise Green Communities Certification. First conceived in 2005, the SEED Network has contributed to the growth of public interest design through the evaluator, training, and awards. Recognition by the USGBC is a big step in bringing social equity goals and principles to a more mainstream stage. The official announcement will be made Friday at the USGBC Greenbuild Conference in New Orleans.

The SEED “social equity in the community” pilot credit rewards project teams for “identifying and responding to inequities by using strategies based on community engagement and involvement of the project in addressing identified neighborhood needs, especially of the most vulnerable populations.”

Click here to read more about the Social Equity Pilot Credit, online at USGBC.org.

BBC: “The Making of Hayley Fraser’s New Hand”


Following up on our post about the maker network e-NABLE, the BBC recently featured “The Making of Hayley Fraser’s New Hand” about the first child in the UK to have a 3D-printed prosthetic. Led by a team of students and professors at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Hayley’s hand was created collaboratively through measuring, casting, 3D modeling and hand-making–all done over a distance of 3,900 miles. In the end, Hayley received a custom-made prosthetic hand and a bond with generous, committed team of makers.

Hayley’s mum and dad, David and Zania Fraser, provided the university with as much information as possible to help guide the making of the prosthetics. Frankie Flood, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said: “Hayley’s parents first sent me an image of her hand along with a line drawing with measurements. “I was able to take the drawing into CAD software and build our design around this drawing to make sure it fit.”

Click here to read “The Making of Hayley Fraser’s New Hand,” online at BBC.co.uk.

Image source: Frankie Flood

Surdna Issues RFP for Social Change Artists


As part of the Artists Engaging in Social Change program, the Surdna Foundation has issued a Request for Proposals to support artists and organizations focused on social engagement. Ranging from $25,000 to $150,000, the grants will be awarded to artists whose “long-term, deeply-rooted work has increased social engagement without necessarily being explicitly ‘activist.’” The second webinar to answer questions airs today, October 21st, at 1pm ET. Submissions are due November 12, 2014 at 11:59pm ET and grants will be announced in April 2015.

Surdna’s Artists Engaging in Social Change program works to promote the potential of artists to be catalysts for social change and to promote the cultural traditions of their communities. The foundation values artists and culture bearers who nurture, sustain, and grow our communities’ cultural traditions. We therefore support projects that help artists and culture bearers deepen our cultural understanding or help communities achieve social change.

Click here to learn more and submit your proposal for the Artists Engaging in Social Change, online at Surdna.org/RFP.

DesignBuildBLUFF & Colorado Building Workshop’s Skow Residence


“Having received a typical Navajo “home build kit”, the clients, Harold and Helena Skow, had already completed a CMU foundation to accept a traditional rectangular gable-trussed home. Unable to complete the building the Skow’s turned to students from CU-Denver and DesignBuildBLUFF,” begins the story of the sombrero-inspired residence completed last year. Recently featured in Inhabitat and designboom, the home was built using nearly all of the materials provided in the kit. The most notable innovation is how the students  turned the trusses–intended for a traditional gable roof– upside down to achieve the “sombrero” hat. Along with the modern roof structure, the home features straw bale construction and natural earthen plaster to provide a sense of comfort amidst the desert elements.

While walking the site with the clients on their first visit some students took note that Harold wore a large brimmed hat which shielded the harsh sun from his face and neck. When asked about the protective garment Harold commented that everyone should have a sombrero in the desert. Inspired by his comment and resisting the idea of a traditional gable roof house, the team chose to turn the trusses upside down and create a sombrero for Skow’s home.

Click here to read more about the Skow Residence, online at ColoradoBuildingWorkshop.com.

BioLite Wins 2014 Innovation By Design Award


Last week Fast Company hosted the annual Innovation by Design Awards & Conference in New York City where the 10 best designs of the year were announced. From 1,587 submissions received, the 53 finalists spanned 10 categories, including Products, Graphic, Experience, Health, Data Visualization, Experimental, Apps, Students, Spaces, and Social Good. Among the winners stood out Mapdwell Solar System in the Data Visualization category and–of course–the Social Good winner. Autodesk Foundation Executive Director Joe Speicher honored BioLite Homestove with the Social Good award to cap a very full day of events.

Excess heat from this stove is converted into electricity, which provides significant fuel savings in developing nations. Our judges pointed out the benefits were even greater. It provides a safer way to burn a fire and a gathering place for families. It might even challenge gender norms of who is expected to maintain a fire–usually women in charge of cooking–if fire is linked to energy rather than food.

Click here to read more about all 10 Innovation by Design Award winners, online at FastCoDesign.com.

Studios Kabako Awarded 2014 Curry Stone Prize

Aimed at honoring designers who address critical social needs, the esteemed Curry Stone Design Prize was bestowed upon the Congolese dance company Studios Kabako this past weekend in Brussels, Belgium. Founded by renowned dancer and choreographer Faustin Linyekula in 2001, Studios Kabako uses cultural programs and theatrical urban interventions to address social memory, fear and hope in the aftermath of civil war. The theatrical troupe performs worldwide while maintaining a base in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo, where they reinvest more than a third of revenue into activities for their local community.

Studios Kabako presents art not as a form of entertainment but as a form of political empowerment. The studio uses different tools—among these, dance, theater, and music—to help local communities imagine an alternative to the hardships of daily life, and understand that they can have a hand in creating a better future.

Click here to learn more about the 2014 Curry Stone Design Prize Winner Studios Kabako, online at CurryStoneDesignPrize.com.