Projects

Design/Relief for AIGA/NY (2013-2014)

Client

AIGA/NY is the largest chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design. For nearly 100 years, the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization has been aiming to advance design as a respected craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force. From content that defines the global practice to events that connect and catalyze, AIGA/NY works to enhance the value and deepen the impact of design on business, society and our collective future.

Project

Launched by AIGA/NY and funded by ArtPlace America, DESIGN/RELIEF is a participatory design initiative to help three New York City neighborhoods – Red Hook, Rockaway and the Seaport – imagine a more vibrant future for themselves as they overcome the lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy. DESIGN/RELIEF aims to demonstrate design’s role in creative placemaking, to help these neighborhoods be more livable, walkable, vibrant and enjoyable.
I was recruited in Fall 2013 to be the program director of this new initiative.

Ideas

Think of creative placemaking as acupuncture, a way to activate a place through design interventions. Creative placemaking is about quality of place, whether triggered by the local creative economy, entrepreneurs and innovators, or driven by its long-term residents. It is focused on building public/private partnerships to enhance public space, boost local businesses and reinforce territorial and commercial attractiveness. Creative placemaking aspires to build more resilient, inclusive, inviting, lively and diverse communities, with small-scale, easily deployable design-based interventions that enhance identity and connectivity in a place.

Results

The three Design/Relief projects address information-sharing and communications issues We produced community presentations, design charrettes, lectures and workshops to help three these neighborhoods reinvent themselves through design. We worked in collaboration with local stakeholders, including nonprofit organizations, small businesses, advocacy groups, residents and city entities representing these diverse communities.

Info

Project website here
Design/Relief’s short documentary film (7mn): here
Design/Relief initiative case study: here
Design/Relief 3 site storytelling reports: here


Les Villes Laboratoires de Design, conference (2009)

Client

The Cité du design in Saint-Étienne, France, in partnership with the Ville de Montréal and Université de Montréal, hosted the conference “Les Villes Laboratoires du Design” as part of the XXII Entretiens Jacques Cartier (Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2009). This conference officially inaugurated the program of the Cité du Design’s 6th Biennale, and functioned as a sequel to the “New Design Cities” colloquium, held in Montreal in October 2004.

Project

Laetitia Wolff moderated one of the two sessions of the conference dedicated to design as a form of public engagement. Hailing from Copenhagen, Dortmund, Eindhoven, Montreal, Palma de Majorca, Portland, the Loire and Rhône-Alpes regions, Saint-Étienne, Seoul, Toronto and the US Mayors’ Institute on City Design the participants exchanged points of view and best practices on design’s strategic role in cities’ future. The premise of the conference was to explore the potential of design strategies as they contribute to public space revitalization and trigger social innovation. What kind of policy, actions and projects could be imagined to respond to the current challenges of urbanization? What kind of leverage does design represent on the development of cities and regions alike? Can design help build a dialogue between political leaders, civil society and experts, and generate a greater solidarity amongst global cities–there were some of the topics addressed during the event.

Results

To an audience of more than 250 experts in design and urban planning, panelists presented various practices and strategies implemented by the guest cities and regions and clearly demonstrated that a cross-disciplinary design approach has emerged as an increasingly significant vector of urban development. Taking into consideration economic vitality, quality of life and living ecologies in cities, the participants showed how design can tackle issues as diverse as sustainability, competitiveness, identity, cultural diversity, attractivity, well-being, economic renaissance, safety, public health and mobility. The discussions also pointed to the need to instill a culture of design and ensure stronger acknowledgement of design disciplines within public institutions as well as the general public, and recommended to capitalize on projects that are at once exceptional, locally relevant and impactful on citizens’ daily lives.

Info

As co-organizers ofthe event, the City of Montreal’s official website features interesting conference summaries

Un article de Catherine Lalonde sur la conférence est parue dans le quotidien québécois, Le Devoir, 19 Dec. 2009.


desigNYC (2011-2013)

Client

desigNYC is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of New Yorkers through the power of good design. desigNYC connects local designers to nonprofit organizations, neighborhood associations and Business Improvements Districts (BID) in the city to encourage design project collaborations in the five boroughs, spanning social and environmental causes.

Project

Recruited as desigNYC’s first executive director in 2011, two years after its launch by ESI Design and with seed money from the Bloomberg Foundation, I served a critical chapter of this small 99% volunteer-based organization to its next phase. I oversaw the sustainable and strategic growth of this grassroots and action-oriented group by enhancing its service offering, implementing an in-kind donation strategy and increasing the community of supporters and partners through a robust communications strategy and many public programs. I currently act as an advisor to WSDIA, a design firm that helps Brooklyn-based Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health with a fun marketing campaign targeting salons and barbershops owners as empowering health advocates.

Results

After two years dedicated to elevating the profile of this small group, now a reference in the field of community design, I feel proud to have overseen the launch of over 30 new incredible projects impacting our city’s communities, piloted a new workshop series and storytelling tools to train nonprofits to better understand the power of design. I have also curated several high impact exhibitions and public programs, notably in collaboration with Wanted Design and NYCXDesign and nurtured and expanded our volunteer base leveraging tens of thousands of dollars in in-kind professional services, and helped set the grounding for what I know will continue to be a meaningful mission.

Info

desigNYC.org


Lerival (2009-2011)

Client

lerival is a DESIGN HOUSE that bridges contemporary furniture and architecture and brokers relationships to the most current and relevant architecture talent. Lerival manufactures furniture based on the exploration of innovative techniques, and with rigorous attention to details and new materials. Lerival champions CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE’s advanced design sensibility, inspired by a versatile modularity, personality-driven forms and high performance.

Project

Working in close collaboration with lerival, futureflair operates as the in-house BRANDING & STRATEGIC PLANNING ARM, involved in both active, deliverable-oriented initiatives and longer-term developmental goals. In practice, futureflair responds to lerival’s needs with regard to brand management, business development and strategic marketing, while also contributing to and guiding the curatorial direction of the company and its proactive expansion.

Results

Within this ongoing partnership, futureflair has been advising lerival on its branding positioning and strategic development through various means: identifying marketing and promotion opportunities notably with real estate developers; helping produce events that position lerival as one of the new leading American players in contemporary design (tribecaIssey Miyake’s installation and cocktail party in Oct. 2009 and ICFF booth 2010, WantedDesign 2011); refining language for collateral materials and brand narratives (including mission statement, PR material, sales catalog and company website); nurturing new strategic alliances with galleries in Paris, shops and showrooms in the US; assuring media coverage in the US and abroad, as well as cultivating new relations with an expanded pool of architecture talent.

Info

lerival.com


EmpathiCITY, Making our City Together (2013)

Client

The Cité du design, under the auspices of the City of Saint-Etienne (France) and Saint-Etienne Métropole, has been hosting, since 1998, the International Biennial Design Saint-Etienne. For its 8th edition, they commissioned co-curators Laetitia Wolff and Josyane Franc to produce a project that aimed to activate the UNESCO Creative Cities of Design network, which Saint-Etienne joined in 2010, while exploring the general biennale theme, “empathy or the experience of the other”.

Project

“EmpathiCITY, Making our City Together,” is an international exhibition and colloquium, that was inaugurated at the 8th International Biennial Design Saint-Etienne on March 13 and 14, 2013. By inviting the 11 cities of design, members of the UNESCO network (including Buenos Aires, Berlin, Montreal, Nagoya, Kobe, Shenzhen, Seoul, Shanghai, Saint-Etienne, Graz and Beijing) we created a critical survey and engagement strategy to demonstrate the potential of the designer as an empathic intermediary between citizens, communities and municipal governments. The project was inspired by the European programme “Human Cities”, which the Cité du design is part of and by the “expoTENtial” collaborative platform oiginally curated by Laetitia Wolff. Our curatorial aim was to reveal the transformative power of design as a tool for social cohesion in the urban context. In partnership with non-profit organizations, community associations, municipal agencies, the featured designers conceived urban interventions to improve the quality of urban life while fostering social bonds.

Results

The 800 square feet exhibition captured the 11 cities’s diverse identities, over lively and disparate portraits, in addition to featuring case studies of EmpathiCITY projects and a selection of products which alluded to the notion of empathy while celebrating the various designers and industries of the 11 cities of the UNESCO network. Adrien Rovero’s scenography, inspired by the public bench, was setup in the immense building H of the old arm Manufacture of the Cité du design.

The symposium, rallying close to 40 speakers – including designers, urban interventionists, activists, makers, thinkers and mayors – allowed the sharing of experiences among city members of the network, while opening the dialog to other pertinent international practionners of community-based design. Stimulated by the debate of Making our City Together, the 11 mayors of the UNESCO network signed an EmpathiCITY manifesto, promising to commit to community design. 500 Journalists attended the opening ceremony of the biennale in presence of the French Minister of culture, and more than 100,000 exhibition visitors came throughout the duration of the biennale.

Info

• EmpathiCITY on Cité du Design Biennale’s website, click here

• EmpathiCITY on Saint-Etienne Ville Créative de Design facebook page, click here

• “EmpathiCITY in the World,” a special project as part of the exhibition, click here. As the result of an international call for project, we presented a panorama of 30 projects from 12 countries (other than the UNESCO network). All of them convey, often with humor, resourcefulness, and great imagination, design’s potential as a mediator of empathy.