What love looks like in public spaces
October 22, 2020
The last time we spoke, I was buzzing after hearing a series of talks at the Restorative Design Conference.
In lieu of turning this into a newsletter about that-one-conference-I-attended, there is just one more thing I can’t get off my mind. At the event, Bryan Lee Jr., Design Principal of Colloqate, said something that nearly stopped me in my tracks:
Design Justice is what love looks like in public spaces. Design should be a deep expression of care of a beloved community, expressed in physical form.
I can’t help wondering how the world might look if community – and justice – were at the center of all public spaces. And not only how this would look, but the processes and mindsets needed to make this happen. Who would be involved? How would they convene? What would it mean to lead with love?
How many young people look around today and feel like they have had a say in what they see?
The Edinburgh Architectural Association is putting on a series of talks featuring architects who follow ‘alternative models’ in their work. In this first talk, we hear from Akiko Kobayashi, Matt + Fiona and John Kinsley Architects. I’ve personally been a big fan of Matt + Fiona for a while now, so I loved hearing examples of how they center engagement with young people.
While what we do is very important, the way we do it is also critical.
BlackSpace is a collective of urban planners, architects, urban designers and artists who are working to support Black practitioners in their fields. Their manifesto expresses the guiding principles they follow while working in and with communities.
At the beginning of the year, I had the chance to volunteer with KDI, a design-build, advocacy and research organization based in Los Angeles and Nairobi. By working closely with residents to design and activate spaces, KDI Nairobi has built a network of resilient and meaningful places, which are cared for by the people who make and use them.
As Bryan Lee Jr. said:
Design should be a deep expression of care of a beloved community, expressed in physical form.
This was originally published on my newsletter, Design With. It was archived in 2023.