November 18, 2011
We round out another Friday with news from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the announcement of $475,000 in new design grants. The 20 grantees were among those that applied to the NEA’s March 2011 cycle, and were then approved by the National Arts Council in recent weeks.
Among other grantees were public interest design leaders such as Architecture for Humanity, Center for Urban Pedagogy, Project H Design, and the Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute of Enterprise Community Partners. Project supported range from convenings and exhibitions, to online initiatives and competitions.
Click here to learn more about all 20 NEA design grantees. The next deadline for NEA design grant applications is March 10, 2012.
November 3, 2011
The good work of Project H, specifically its high school design/build program, Studio H, will be the subject of a special exhibition opening later this month at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Ore.
This exhibition asks viewers to reflect on how that process can teach the next generation of designers to transform the world for themselves. Artifacts from Studio H, the project in rural Bertie County, North Carolina where Emily Pilloton and partner Matthew Miller teach design thinking to high-school students, will be on display to illustrate how a socially engaged design process can result in significant and positive solutions. Together, Pilloton and Miller engage in a bold experiment of design-led community transformation.
October 24, 2011
“It changed the way I see the world, and made me expect more of myself.” So reads a powerful quote in today’s New York Times about Studio H, the high school design/build program launched by Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller of Project H in rural North Carolina. It doesn’t get much better than that for any experience, but imagine feeling and articulating such a thing as one high schooler did at the opening of Studio H’s market earlier this month. The project–a 2,000 sf farmers market–overcame countless odds to see the light of day. As reported in the New York Times today:
Studio H always threatened to be a risky endeavor for Ms. Pilloton, 29, and Mr. Miller, 33, who moved from San Francisco to Windsor to run the course. They had chosen to work in a depressed rural area, scarred by racial tension with severely limited employment opportunities in the belief that a project like Studio H would be of greatest value there. Windsor is in Bertie County, one of the poorest parts of North Carolina. It is also vulnerable to extreme weather. Since moving there, Ms. Pilloton and Mr. Miller have helped with the local relief effort after two hurricanes and a tornado.
October 12, 2011
Studio H–the brainchild of partners Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller of Project H Design–won some hard-earned coverage from Fast Company yesterday, with its article titled “High School Students Build A Farmer’s Market in a Food Desert.” That’s right: high school students. Over the course of the academic year, a group of students (profiled here previously) from Bertie County, N.C., designed and built a beautiful structure, now functioning as a farmers’ market. Participating students received college credits and pay for their work on the 2,000 square foot structure.
According to the article, “Before even thinking about building, Pilloton had to start with the basics. ‘Almost none of the students knew how to read a ruler,’ she says. ‘None had any design experience, and some had never even held a hammer.’ So Miller and Pilloton taught the students math, how to lay out projects, how to use shop equipment–essentially, everything they needed to know to go out and build.”
Click here to read the full Fast Company article.
October 10, 2011
Public interest design expands well beyond the confines of the architecture profession. In fact, some of the foremost leaders of the public interest design movement have pointed to the limits of that profession as their motivation to blaze new trails. Some of those same leaders–Bryan Bell of Design Corps, Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity, Liz Ogbu of IDEO.org, Sergio Palleroni of the BaSiC Initiative, Emily Pilloton of Project H Design, Katie Swenson of the Enterprise Rose Fellowship, and yours truly, to name just a few–are among those unlicensed architects. Other more public design figures, such as Maya Lin and HUD Sec. Shaun Donovan, are also relegated to the status of “intern” in the profession’s definition. PublicInterestDesign.org‘s John Cary offers his take on the situation in his first op-ed for GOOD, published yesterday, asking:
Rather than spending their energy protecting their territory and titles, what if architects and their associations focused on resolving our nation’s housing crisis, improving our schools, or generally creating more inspiring environments for people to live their best lives?
Click here to read the complete article.
September 6, 2011
San Francisco-based designer and author of multiple books Christopher Simmons of MINE is at it again with his forthcoming Just Design: Socially Conscious Design for Critical Causes, due out this December. The book was written with the premise that “For many, doing good work that also does good in the world is part of the ethos of design practice.”
Simmons goes on to explain that “Just Design celebrates and explores this increasingly critical aspect of design by showcasing a diverse collection of inspiring projects, people, and causes.” In addition to 10 in-depth project case studies, the book boasts essays by a select group of designers as well as interviews, including the likes of Project H Design‘s Emily Pilloton and AIGA‘s Ric Grefe.
Click here to learn more or pre-order the book from Amazon.com.
July 18, 2011
Earlier this year, Core77 announced its first-ever awards program, boasting fifteen categories, distinguished juries, and a global announcement process. Core77 has already announced the honorees of six of its fifteen award categories, with the next–Interiors/Exhibitions–being announced today. (We’ll be keeping an eye on the fifteenth and final category, Design for Social Impact, to be announced on Thursday.) The Design Education Initiatives category, however, was announced last week, and included at least a couple of well-known public interest design efforts. Studio H, a rural design/build program of Project H, earned recognition as the official runner-up, while the rapidly-expanding Design for America was also noted by the jury.
The first place award for the Design Education Initiative category went to Sticks + Stones–”a collaborative project that gathers graphic design students from diverse geographical regions to explore their similarities and differences, to examine their perceptions and misconceptions of the ‘other,’ and to create a greater understanding of their responsibilities as creators of visual messages.” For the judges, “Sticks + Stones hits a chord in the current global climate of racial and cultural tension, while helping graphic design avoid the habit of stereotyping. Its philosophy of social democracy has the potential to foster transformation through the promotion of empathy, mutual understanding, and justice.”
Click here to visit the Design Education Initiative award page, which includes the jury chair’s video announcement of the honorees.
July 8, 2011
Showcasing the many applications of design, technology leader Autodesk recently published an important new book, Imagine, Design, Create: How Designers, Architects, & Engineers are Changing Our World. Edited by Autodesk Fellow Tom Wujec, the book debuted in softcover at the TED2011 conference in March, and is also available in hardcover and by free PDF download. Among other highlights, public interest design leaders Emily Pilloton and Project H are featured prominently in a 14-page profile.
Featuring the work of dozens of leading designers, Imagine, Design, Create tells stories of how technology is transforming the very nature of design. Bringing together stories of good design happening around the world, it shows how people are using new design approaches and capabilities to solve problems, create opportunities, and improve the way we live and work. A PDF (20mb) version of the book is available for free download from the Autodesk website; both hardcover and softcover versions of the book can also be ordered from Amazon.com for $27.50 and $17.00, respectively. The book is also now featured on our Books page.
June 27, 2011
The above is the introduction to an article on humanitarian design, “Making the Ideal More Real,” published this month in Architect Magazine. The views expressed above earn a quick and sharp rebuttal in the following paragraph from Emily Pilloton, founder of Project H Design, saying “Most critics who call humanitarian design the new imperialism haven’t done the work and realized how messy, political, and complex it can be.” (Practicing what they preach, Pilloton and Project H are embedded in a community in rural North Carolina.)
The article goes on to cite the work of Dallas-based Building Community Workshop, Biloxi-based Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, and Portland-based Building Sustainable Communities (BaSiC) Initiative. (Architecture for Humanity, arguably the biggest champion of humanitarian design through its competitions, projects, and popular Design Like You Give a Damn book, is strangely missing from the piece.) Click here to read the full article.
Thanks to Brad Leibin of Public Architecture in San Francisco for referring this piece.
June 24, 2011
This post in some ways stretches the limits of public interest design. Botanist is a series of benches designed by some of the most prominent product designers of our time: Yves Behar, Milton Glaser, and Karim Rashid, to name a few. Each bench was designed with a nonprofit or social cause in mind, and a modest 2% of sales go to benefit a dozen and a half organizations chosen by each participating designer. The beneficiaries range from GreenDot Schools and Save the Children to Project H Design and the Special Olympics. The video above captures the story.
The concept and work have won a People’s Choice Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards, the Inspirations Award from Tandus/Contract Magazine, and lots of other acclaim. A limited-time sale (through Saturday) of the Botanist benches and other products were brought to our attention by a new website, called Fab.com, a brand new design accessories outlet in the vein of the wildly popular GILT and GroupOn generation of websites. Just as GILT and GroupOn have directed their sales power toward social causes on occasion, perhaps Fab.com has the potential to do so as well, beyond its current feature.