Talking Stumps

16 06 2012

Via Pop-Up City: Talking Stumps – Starting Conversations in Public Spaces

Two stump-like structures outfitted with walkie-talkies inside and a button on top that implores the passerby to ‘press to talk’ to a complete stranger on the other side of the park.

‘Branch Out’ is a lovely reminder of the importance of strangers and our interactions with them: most of the people we encounter on a daily basis are completely new to us, and it’s worth remembering that our conversations with them are important, too.

L-train Luncheon

3 04 2012

Via Cool Hunting : Passengers aboard NYC’s L train were recently treated to a six-course lunch as they rolled across Manhattan, under the East River and into Williamsburg, each stop adding to the food frenzy. Cooked up by the crafty chefs behind A Razor, A Shiny Knife, the luncheon included an elegant array of dishes, including foie gras and filet mignon, as well as a pyramid of chocolate panna cotta, dusted with gold leaf. Guests—who paid $100 for a reservation—were given no information apart from “the promise of a clandestine dining experience.”

Yellow Bench Project

15 02 2012

A project supported by Dublin City Council, via All About Ideas :

Thanks to Tim for the link

Bus Stop into Living Rooms

20 04 2011

In France IKEA is filling select metro waiting areas with comfortable couches and interior design-themed wallpapers. Glowing signs, bus plans and route maps are all fit into the surrounding designer themes and look like intentional wall art within each scene. While some of the elements are (by necessity) simply two-dimensional representations, the sofas are real and certainly a warm and plush alternative to a cold hard bench.

Library Bus

18 03 2011

An awesome colourful bus owned by the Swedish Library Association, which visits 32 villages weekly.

Repost: My Wheels are Turning

10 03 2011

Thanks for the repost.

Social Exchange: Much More Than Idle Chit-Chat

The goal of increasing social exchange, planned and spontaneous, in our public spaces is a bedrock feeding the insight behind this blog. Our public spaces are the impetuous for connecting individuals and building community, which in turn drives community resiliency. We could be doing a lot more in creating spaces that foster this activity in our commons.

The project ”I Just Wanted To Say” is attempting to do that by creating priority seating for conversationalist. The project shows how far a small amount of investment and a creative idea can be used to highlight and encourage social exchange.

It’s more than friendliness that is being promoted. It’s community. It’s the spreading of ideas. It’s innovation. In fact, it’s an economic development tool. High levels of social exchange are why innovations tend to originate out of our great cities. Here in northern Michigan, where density will never be great and many people live here precisely so they DON’T have to talk to anyone, we need to be that much more creative in our public spaces to foster those exchanges. Fortunately, we need not invent the wheel. We can learn from projects like this that already are happening in other communities.

Repost: ‘I Just wanted to Say’ on Burning Man Blog

4 03 2011

Thanks to Jess for repost on Burning Man

Design is too often seen as a superfluous and elitist preoccupation. In this project, however, Yen moves beyond the realm of logos, posters and objects and uses design as opportunity and agent for change. This project re-imagines design concepts typically found in public transport signs as an opportunity for interaction and conversation. Namely, it takes the idea of “priority seating” and adds a unique twist.

Easily accessible seats on public transport are universal. They have traditionally been designated for elderly and disabled based on both a culture of courtesy and handicap access legislation. This project uses similar visual design to create “priority seating for people who want conversation,” helping to cultivate “a culture of friendliness.”

Finally, someone has articulated what I’ve been trying to say for awhile. “Design as opportunity and agent for change”….I’m totally going have to steal that line.

What makes this project interesting — and relevant to the cultivation of Black Rock City spirit — is its call for participation

I only know a little about Burning Man, from a documentary I saw once. It is grounded in 10 principles, which I think are strong ideas that could be easily adapted principles to urban community building (and good collaborative design process):

1. Radical Inclusion
2. Gifting
3. Decommodification
4. Radical Self-reliance
5. Radical Self-expression
6. Communal Effort
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
7. Civic Responsibility
8. Leaving No Trace
9. Participation
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
10. Immediacy
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience


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