Julie Lasky | Projects

DesigNYC, Round 2

Maddy Burke-Vigeland and Melissa Billig, DesigNYC advisors, address project teams meeting for the first time in January.

The people who gathered at the New York Art Directors Club on a Thursday morning in January were nothing like a wedding party — and yet they appeared to be obsessed with marriage. It was the second round of initiatives fostered by DesigNYC, a collaborative launched in 2009 by ESI Design that matches local designers with pro-bono causes. Designers were being introduced to the nonprofit groups with which they were paired, on projects that included a guide to financial rights for new immigrants, an identity for a website that trolls for volunteers and funders of environmental works, and interior improvements for a youth-oriented center in the Bronx.

Fernando Music, a DesignNYC returnee, addressed the newly hatched partnerships about their relationship: “Understand the scope: You have a courtship and a marriage at the same time,” he said. A principal with The Rooster Design Group, Music worked last year with the New York City Housing Authority on a resident’s guide to reducing energy consumption. Now he was back as an advisor, sharing his insights into the peculiarities of collaborating intensely and charitably with strangers, and bringing to that arrangement an arsenal of non-overlapping skills. “Be respectful; pay attention to the other’s culture,” Music urged.

Picking up on the conjugal metaphor, David Krieger, managing director of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation, described himself as a “blushing bride.” (The bridegroom is the graphic design studio Fogelson-Lubliner, which will help with the identity for an urban and industrial ecology center opening in the former Superfund site in Brooklyn.) Amy Bucciferro of PortSide New York declared herself a polygamist for hooking up simultaneously with two partners — the architecture firm 590BC and graphics group Studio L’Image — on educational and spatial augmentations to a waterfront community center in Red Hook. Laurel K. Brown, deputy executive director of Nostrand Park, a nonprofit dedicated to improving Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, admitted to being a DesigNYC “two-timer”; Brown’s organization collaborated with WireMedia Communications last year on its website and collateral materials. Now the group was united with Vamos Architects to design a pop-up event space with a neighborhood-appropriate Caribbean theme that will enliven Nostrand Avenue over four weekends this summer.

Reached at her day job (she’s executive director of the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District in Queens, New York), Brown described a hiccup-less experience on her first DesigNYC outing. WireMedia did a “stellar job” sprucing up Nostrand Park’s identity, she said. The designers were sensitive to the needs of her organization, which seeks to bring social and economic vitality to Crown Heights and to transcend the neighborhood’s association with racial unrest, a legacy of the riots that broke out there 20 years ago. WireMedia even went the extra mile of finding a pro-bono printer to turn out the collateral.

As a result of their efforts, an organization run by two principals, and by volunteers who “weave in and out,” looks like it employs “10, 20, 30, 40 people,” Brown said. The quantity and quality of comments on the site have “increased tenfold.” Businesses, even those outside of the district, are knocking on Brown’s door asking for guidance. A local bakery named a mango mousse cake in Nostrand Park’s honor. And the organization received a $5,000 grant from New York’s Department of Small Business Services to run Destination Nostrand, the summer Caribbean-themed festival Brown is planning as part of her second DesigNYC partnership.

Rewards are piling up as last year’s projects come to fruition, says Michelle Mullineaux, vice-president of marketing and business development at ESI Design and acting director of DesigNYC. Three efforts involving Enterprise Community Partners, which promotes and finances affordable housing, are scheduled to launch this spring. They are a green area, designed by Robin Key Landscape Architecture, that enables the elderly residents of Servium Gardens, a housing development in the Bronx, to mingle with people of all ages; communal spaces redesigned by SOHBR Studio at the Ana Gonzalez Apartments, a Brooklyn residence for the mentally ill; and a new children’s recreation room at Aegis, a short-term facility that shelters victims of domestic violence (architect: Andre Kikoski).

As DesigNYC’s chief facilitator, Mullineaux naturally looks beyond the marriage metaphor: “I’m excited to see what these fabulous groups birth and the impact they make in the world through these collaborations,” she said.

2011 DesigNYC Collaborations
Client: Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP)
Designer: Rodrigo Corral
Project: Design a multi-language financial rights guide for new immigrants to New York City.

Clients: NY Sun Works and Cypress Hills Local Development Corp.
Designers: Abruzzo-Bodziak Architects, Claire Taylor Hansen
Project: Design schematics and fundraising materials for nine greenhouses to be built in Cypress Hills. The greenhouses will be used for education and job training in urban agriculture, hydroponics and greenhouse construction.

Client: Gowanus Canal Community Development Corp.
Designer: Fogelson-Lubliner
Project: Produce an identity and communications framework for a new urban and industrial ecology center.

Client: GreenMap
Designer: Otto NY
Project: Redesign flagship website for organization that crowd-sources mapping of local green resources.
Client: PortSide New York
Designers: 590BC, Studio L’Image
Project: Create Architectural enhancements and interpretive experiences for boathouse/community center in Red Hook, Brooklyn’s, waterfront park.

Client: Educating Tomorrow
Designer: Language Dept
Developer: Rubenstein Technology Group
Project: Create an identity and website that will act as a network and resource hub for New York City educators on sustainability issues.

Client: Public Allies
Designer: Fink & Platt Architects
Project: Create interior enhancements at the Bronx Community Pride Center that will provide a healthy space for youth leaders to engage the community.

Client: Ioby
Designer: Publicis Design
Project: Create an integrated brand identity and style guide that will help this organization, which acts as a catalyst for local environmental projects, engage more donors and volunteers.

Client: Nostrand Park
Designer: Vamos Architects
Project: Create a concept design for “Destination Nostrand,” a community-oriented, Caribbean-inspired pop-up plaza that provides arts, dining and entertainment along a historic corridor in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Posted in: Architecture, Graphic Design, Social Good

Comments [1]

Great to see/ read the hope design can offer. Mullineaux and the people at desigNYC were quite thoughtful (and respectful) last year on our inaugural project for Bronx River Alliance. My advice for the new designers: Heed the advice on the image above ("sign agreements")

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