Spark 216: Engaging the Future of Desgin





SPARK 216:  Engaging the Future of Design #TheRecap

May 25, 2018

Michele Crawford

Cleveland, Ohio

Activating the next generation of creative youth by providing opportunities where they can experience and grow their creativity alongside other creative professionals is an important need.  I would speak persuasively that it is key to have role models and mentors to coach and support youth that are curious and contemplating gaining skills in creative careers. I often jump at the chance to support any initiative that focuses on these things and attempts to make an impact.  The inaugural Spark 216 event was just that. Brainchild of designers Jacinda Walker, Jamal Collins, Jermel Wilkerson Sr. and Robert Gatewood,  Spark 216 is an event for youth, ages 11-15, who are curious about design and design-related careers. The inaugural event was held on March 10.  Attendees had the opportunity to expand their creativity by participating in thirty-minute sessions of design learning activities led by local design professionals. The activities exposed the next generation of youth to graphic design, web design, architecture, photography, illustration, and design thinking.  Each session included local design volunteer leaders working to choreograph introductory activities for youth participants

As an Architecture Information Station volunteer, I was fortune to be teamed up with Mandisa Gosa, Interior Designer at local firm ThenDesign (Bialosky at the time) and David Jurca, Associate Director at Kent State’s CUDC.  We were able to work one on one with the youth attendees in rotating slots. Students explored a basic understanding of architecture and interior design careers through practicing communicating design by determining scale, building models and drawing their model in plan, elevation, section and perspective views.  Students were encouraged to make their model with Disney character clients in mind.

Though the Spark 216 event was not specifically targeted for future designers of color, the audience in attendance was.  Though it was a cold March day in Cleveland, the temperature inside the host venue, Full Spectrum GamerHaven,  felt like summer bliss, vibrant with fresh new talent exploring the opportunity to be a designer for a day and helping hands and minds cultivating leaders by sharing a wealth of information.  There was even a special session for parents that gave an overview of how to support emerging creatives. Even though no official vote was collected and tallied, I believe our table was the crowd favorite, I may be biased though!

Someone once told me that the english language often does not have the appropriate words to describe our experiences, and after participating in Spark 216…  I can confirm that I agree. Stay tuned for more events like this coming soon.

Check out the event video here-


Dishwasher Discoveries

This morning my first activity involved “doing” the dishes, well… if loading the dishwasher counts as doing. As I began to load the silverware I decided to use a feature that I never used before and it changed my life. In the silverware compartment there is an option to snap back the top so that you could “place in” the utensil. I couldn’t believe it! Ladies and gentleman my “Aha” moment for the day came so early, I started to get back in the bed and check off the day with a mission accomplished stamp. I didn’t do that. But began to realize that up until this moment I did not have access to something that was readily available to me everyday. A few days earlier I saw my sister use this feature that she knew about and I didn’t. (Thanks Sis!)

Just like 1... 2... 3...
Just like 1… 2… 3…

While lifting the flap and “placing in” in oppose to “sliding in” (see pics) may not have taken 10 seconds off of the amount of time it took me to load the dishwasher, it inherently made me feel as if it was a “must do” to ALL my future dishwasher loading encounters. The whole experience was a sweet refresh of simple awareness that I had clearly been taking for granted. At the same time, I was equally upset that for the past 8 months I had ignorantly avoided this utensil-loading phenomenon in countless kitchen cleanups. More holistically, I realized that I had been denying myself design because of my lack of knowledge and investigation to explore my options. I knew better!  This experience re-opened my eyes to #1 the importance of design happiness #2 the imperativeness of being an explorer and #3 the inclination of awareness of my current human being experiences in a world where everything that I use is designed.

I don’t think this design element lessened my dish load time or efficiency, however it made me think it did. In fact, the next time I did the dishes I didn’t even use the feature. Ha! However the mere fact that I had knowledge of its existence, made me feel empowered, like a super dishwashing dame, ready to take over the world one dirty fork at a time!

From here I proceeded to give credit to the designer who actually listened to their market research and that one annoyed customer who recommend more flexibility in the utensil placing department, because their is always that one whose life will be changed by something that is so minute (my-nute) in the grand scheme of things. My mind is being blown, as I continue to load the plates I start trying to move other pieces to see if I could find some other “tricks”, sadly I didn’t… but gladly I was exploring. I was actually trying to move immoveable knobs and pieces of plastic… just because I wanted to be deign happy again. I had already missed out on one jazzy feature I couldn’t live with the thought that I was missing out on 2!

Little things should have the potential to change your life, I am happy that I give little things the power to change mine… As an emerging design professional working in architecture the weight of design is the world that my life revolves around. I should never forget the impact that design or lack thereof has on me and my ability or “allowability” to have access to it or not. Sadly some of us will never take a moment to analyze this, and I never want to be that person again. Design is the ultimate tool, or weapon in some hands, that is used for and against us… How wonderful! Design is a beautiful thing, and my access to it even more glorious…

My goal for the next few weeks is to notice these very things and appreciate the elements that make my life worth while through touch, feel (the emotional kind) and sight, because some designer made and are making a bunch of choices for me… like they knew and know me… Time to challenge if they really did and do… You should to!

Common[unity] Architecture Beats: Hip-Hop inspired design

My site analysis process was inspired by my daily commute from Forest Park (west suburb of Chicago) to the Loop on the Green Line L’ Train.  Twice a day I observed the changes of the neighborhoods and became interested in the politics of why this was visible.  I passed through the neighborhoods of  Oak Park, Austin, Garfield Park, and the West Loop, witnessing moments of historical remnants, urban development/decay, and opportunities for growth and hope.  In the map above the red rectangles represent the open spaces (almost all visible from the Green Line route) available for the spatial responses I am proposing.  These responses can include public parks, urban gardens, amphitheaters, art centers, mural spaces, fitness parks, pavilions  and other community common spaces that may influence a strong since of pride in the neighborhood where you reside, creating areas of improvisation, dialogue,  empowerment, remembrance, education, expression and anything freestyle[d].

The site I chose was the intersection of Pulaski and Lake, West Garfield Park.  I began by looking at how the site was used by the community in it’s vacant state, and expanded on that.

The goal of the architecture is to excite, inspire and support community members and serve as a unifying symbol of all the present assets and instigate new possibilities in the community.  Providing a space for music, art, dance and other, this facility becomes a support system, cultivating neighborhood pride.  The visual statement explores an hip-hop aesthetic that involves elements of adaptability, fluidity, reclamation, and transparency.  My precedent studies included The Wall of Respect by various Chicago Artist, DeYoung Museum by Herzog DeMeuron, Fun Palace by Cedric Price, Ibirapuera Park by Oscar Niemyer/Roberto Burle Marx, Olympic Sculpture Park by Weiss Manfred, and MASP by Lina Bo Bardi.