Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


Design Open Mic Night

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I had never heard of a design open mic night, but doesn't it sound intriguing? Just like any other open mic events, it has the potential to be amazing. Or, it could simply be a good excuse to be outdoors, enjoying the Los Angeles air, talking about design.

About two weeks ago, I made a special trip down to Hollywood on the Metro to check out an open mic night for designers hosted by Design East of La Brea (deLab). The event was part of a pop-up, which I wrote about in the Los Angeles Times. If you recall, I had checked out a few other deLab events before this, but this was my first one for the year.

I came because I wondered, "I often get to see the end product of a long design process, but what does a designer worry about and what projects are they currently cooking up?"

Though at first sign-ups were pretty hard to come by because of jitters, as the night wore on, everyone's courage quota increased. It could have been the alcohol available from Umami Burger, but I really couldn't say. These are the guys with gumption, who aren't afraid to show their work, even in its most vulnerable state.

On the mic, no topic was sacred.

There were those that shared their projects. Jacob gave all of us a sample of his circular wall socket covers, a nice change from the boring rectangular ones we often see, and asked the audience for distribution venue suggestions.

Jacob and his circular wall cover.

Sean of design consultancy Continuum simply shared his work re-imagining an expanded Art Center College of Design. Webster of Nickel and Dime is a forest service fire fighter who's now a milliner. After sharing his story, he wanted to know if there was a way he could legally give part of his income to the less fortunate.

Others, talked about the quandaries they're experiencing. Jac of Fort talked about her company's strict re-use motto and asked us how she could expand while still staying true to her values.

Jac talking about her repurposed furniture.

Tobias was a courageous man, who came up and said what I think every creative ponders at some point as well, "What happened to me? Did I miss some boat?" It's the question that pops in his mind whenever he finds himself thinking about his peers. He wanted to know if there was a way he could progress creatively while still honing his diverse interests. Audience reactions ranged from sympathy to simple advice (try working on timebound projects).

Tobias asking the question we all end up asking ourselves sometimes.
The last speaker of the night was Melinda, an Englishwoman, who shared with the audience a quick excerpt of A Philosophy Of Interior Design (I think by Stanley Abercrombie). Her few minutes on stage were fascinating. Melinda called for designers to return to the original tenets on design and not simply to reproduce what's in vogue. "Let's go back to the angle of the curve in a chair versus reproducing just another modernist piece of furniture."An appropriate ending for a venue full of people who literally shape our everyday experience with the products they create.

Hand-Eye's pop-up space. Photo via deLab.


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