Project Snapshots

I realize I don’t put a lot on this blog about the things I’m working on, and so I’d like to share some tidbits from a project I’m wrapping up.  A few months ago, I was contacted by a lovely family who purchased a second home in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood and needed their new empty condo completely furnished.  Sound like a dream?  I know… Continue reading “Project Snapshots”

Setting the Stage

…For Social Engagement Through Interior Design

A few months have passed since presenting my thesis at Harrington.  While I was caught up in the frenzy to get to the finish line, all I could see were the things I still hadn’t done, the grand ideas that were never actualized.  I had done tons of research that to relay would take pages on top of pages, only to serve the purpose of proving I had, well, done the research.  I drew pages of sketches, quick ideas, larger ideas, built 3d models of spaces left untouched by the time presentation day rolled around.  Even as I stood up in the front of the room, watching my slides flash on the screen and hearing my scripted words coming out of my own mouth, I thought “I could have done more”.

Perhaps it’s the beginning excitement that leads me to feel that way.  When an idea is sprouting, there are ten thousand directions it can grow.  As the thing takes shape, ideas get left behind, and the process of editing and cutting away becomes just as important as the build up .  This topic – being so close to home – was especially difficult for me to whittle down into a neat package, and so my desire to share everything often led me off the path of presenting a clear and direct narrative.

Enough time has passed now that I can look back on what I’ve done and feel proud of it.  It might not be perfect, but it is mine.  I present now my thesis book, which includes a summary of the project and the design, followed by the full written thesis.  Please click here to view.

Sequoya Point by Modus Studio

Revit Poster

This project was less about designing from a concept of my own and more about learning the ins and outs of Revit, but I still thought it would be worth it to share. I had previously used the program to build models but only on the most basic levels – throwing up walls and punching doors and windows into them. To me, that was magical enough, but after 15 weeks of in depth exploration into the workings of the program last semester, I was blown away by all of the features I wasn’t taking advantage of.

I reached out to Modus Studio, an architecture firm based in Arkansas, and they so kindly allowed me to use the plans for one of their projects so that I could recreate it for my class. Based on their plans, I learned how to make custom components, build parametric program massing, create schedules that auto-populate, and more.  It was nice to be able to focus more on learning the program and its capabilities than trying to figure it out while also trying to communicate a design.   My final poster is above, and some key views are down below.

I still have a few things to figure out with rendering, but it was nice to not have to set everything up in 3d Max all over again like I had done with previous projects.  I think I will likely in the future still render in Max (the lighting in Revit was hard to get to look real, as you can see below) but so nice to know that the program does a good job and fairly quickly.  Of course, I also do a ton of photoshop work post rendering, which helps.

All in all, I am happy with the results, and recommend anyone to learn Revit if they are serious about design.  I wish I had learned it earlier!



Project - House - 3D View - Axon Exterior




The Ripple Effect: transmedia strategy at work

A few months ago, I posted about my transmedia strategy and how I would use different social media platforms to promote and share my work.  The concept is simple:  use a blog or website to share portfolio work, and then spread it further through professional and personal social networks.  So that is exactly what I did.  

I recently posted about my conceptual project, the Bridgeport Smilebooth here on the site.  I then sent the link out via twitter, and the next day received a phone call from Casey Cora, a reporter for DNA Info to talk about the project.  The write up is here, and I’m overwhelmed by the positive response and encouragement I’ve received.

My school picked up on it, and have been promoting the DNA Info piece on their own social media platforms, and if that wasn’t enough I received an email from a booking producer at MSNBC requesting me for a live interview on television!  My mind is blown by all of this attention, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my ideas on a larger platform.  

Stay tuned for updates, I’m excited to see what happens next!

Bridgeport Smilebooth : Bringing Neighbors Face to Face

Smile Site

The location I chose for this pop up stand is a small lot on Halsted street and 34th in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago. This neighborhood is culturally rich and well known for its diversity however, has an unfortunate history of segregation and racism. In fact, block by block, the demographic varies, and it is easy to get lost in isolation. The goal of the pop up will be to engage residents of the neighborhood and show them just who their neighbors are. Located in a public area just outside of a public library on a busy street with shops and restaurants, this booth will raise awareness of the different types of people living in such a small vicinity.

Booth in setting for web

Booth in setting for web - back view

By acting as a photo booth, visitors are invited to participate in the exhibit by first having their photo taken. A traditional photo booth will take their pictures and provide them with the memento to keep as their own while also displaying their images on large screens. The design of the booth was kept simple – mimicking the shape of a camera with its flash on. The flash is on as an attracting element –  it’s light will stand out at night and draw attention when the rest of the street has closed down in the evening hours. Text on the outside of the booth is meant to be intriguing and guide people into the exhibit, using the phrases “Get ready for your close-up” and “Show off your good side”. Though the nature of the social issue is a serious one, I wanted the exhibit itself to be a playful and inviting one.  Infographics and statistics can sometimes be a turnoff, but everyone loves a photo booth.

Booth Interior
The principles of participatory design play into this project by inviting the public to participate, and the outcome reflects their input. The project would not be possible without the participation of the neighborhood residents. I feel that though the message will not be communicated in a heavy handed manner, the opportunity is there to start a discussion. People walking by will be intrigued and go in. Someone may recognize the face of a friend, or the barista from the coffee shop. We often associate people with where we see them, and this booth, by displaying everyone on the same screen, brings everyone to the same playing field, sending the message that we are all just people, living our lives. Nobody is better than anybody else – a fact that we all need to be reminded of now and again.

Media and Communications: The Midterm Remix

MC Banner 1 Final MC banner 2 Final MC banner 3 Final


Today is the midterm presentation and what you see here is what I’m pinning up!  These banners are 24″ x 36″, and the series of three are supposed to represent material from all of the assignments all semester.   If you look closely, you will see elements from all of my previous work posted here.  Media and Communications is a methods class, meaning that the focus is on design process, not on interior design.    In this class, we are encouraged to research our own topic of interest and tweet our findings, create a video about our own personal infrastructures, as well as explore different concepts of design thinking.

Throughout the course of this class, I often struggled with how to communicate these projects to someone outside of the classroom who would not necessarily have been exposed to these ideas or programs.   I wanted each piece I put together to be able to tell a comprehensible story that anyone could follow.  This kind of thinking led me to stick to recognizable imagery in my 3D models, and writing copy that would help to illustrate the concepts we were focusing on in class.

When you don’t know how something is going to (or even supposed to) turn out, it’s often difficult to take the next step to get there.  An assignment with no rules is like a project with no deadline – very easy to spend more time thinking than doing.   How can I possibly make something perfect if I don’t have a clear example of what perfect is?  Granted, we saw what other students before us did, but all of their work was so consistently and recognizably theirs, that it was impossible for me to know what to use as a starting point.  I found myself constantly fighting with my natural instincts to tell a story just in order to get things done.  And all the while I was hushing the voice inside asking “But what does it mean?  What will you say when you present?”  But, for me, that was just part of my process.  Thinking.  Turning off the thinking.  Doing.

This is where the next part comes in: play.  By letting go of that voice in my head that told me everything had to be something, or mean something even before I started, I was able to just create, explore and discover new thinking.  Forms took shape and transformed again.  And through that process of discovery and play, I was able to find new meanings.    And that letting go led to much more progress than I would have had if I tried to rigidly predetermine every outcome before I began.

So what do you think?  I’d love to hear comments on what you think of everything I’ve presented here so far, even if its “I don’t get it!”

Zoomscape: The Experience

ZoomScape 2 - Astorga

Pushing this model from a few weeks ago even further, I brought it into 3D Studio Max and put some materials on it and set up a daylight system to create shadows and reflections.  *Just a quick aside, the new 2014 version of Max has an amazing feature that allows you to populate the space you’ve created with a few simple clicks.  As you can see, they are three dimensional, create shadows, and you can choose whether you want them walking around, or interacting with others.  It is seriously amazing.  No more photoshopping architectural entourage images of people in outdated clothes!  Hooray! *

The point of this exercise was to give the model a human scale and a context.   How can it be experienced as an interior space?  This is interior design school, afterall.  What started out as an exercise in creating a field database, became an experiment with our perception of space, and now, in its final form, it is an experiential walk through.   By overlaying the model on different backgrounds (all stills from my film, coming up next) it took on a new context.  What was previously a sculptural object became a surreal spaceship, or mysterious tunnel, or whatever you want to see it as.  All of a sudden a thing to just observe became a space to experience.

A Transmedia Strategy… what’s that?

transmedia model

How does social media change the way we communicate?  It seems to me that our filter for ‘appropriateness’ has becoming increasingly more lax.   What is appropriate to post on Twitter or Facebook is not necessarily the same thing you would post on your website or blog (though a lot of people still don’t quite get this yet).  So how do you decide what information to share and where?

Again looking at the book Convergence Culture, specifically the chapter “Searching for the Oragami Unicorn – The Matrix and Transmedia Storytelling”, our class discussed the idea that certain media forms are better at telling different parts of the story.  By recognizing which methods of communication are the best for your needs, we can implement that practice into fully – and properly! – representing ourselves, our story and our brand across several platforms.

Video : First Draft Edit

This is the first draft of my short film. I have never worked with film before, so this is very rough, but I am happy with some of the transitions. I used Adobe Premier to edit the raw footage together, it was actually much easier for me to use than other programs like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. I think sometimes over simplifying programs makes them difficult to understand, and having more tools makes it easier because there is a button (though it might be buried somewhere) for exactly what you want to do.

The one thing I did not play with was the sound. I will have to add that back in for my second round of edits, so feel free to keep your music playing, because this is a silent film.

Interpreting ZoomScape Through a 3D Model

Building on the Field/Database model I created a few weeks ago, this week’s assignment was to introduce new elements based on concepts from Mitchell Schwarzer’s book, ZoomScape.  In the introduction to his book, Schwarzer describes our interactions with architecture as often fleeting and changing, as we witness buildings as we pass by them in cars, or fly over them in planes.  Our perception of the buildings change as we change our approach or speed of motion.

To create this model, I added some additional forms and flowed them along an undulating surface.  The long tail was an unexpected effect, but I felt was a good way to communicate the concept of distance, as from different viewpoints, the main cluster of the model seems either far away or on the verge of engulfing the viewer.   The same can be said for our experience of architecture, or a city.  What we understand of a city’s scale from a postcard really has no bearing on our experience in actually visiting the city and walking around it.