Washington University got an up-close look at an innovative attempt to unite designers with community members when (blank)LAB rolled into the Givens Hall parking lot on November 6.
At its essence, (blank)LAB is a bare-bones mobile studio that seeks to engage the communities it visits in order to foster creative collaborations. By providing a space for disparate groups to interact with one another, the studio sparks conversations that serve as the catalyst for design aimed at engendering positive change.
About the project
(blank)LAB is the brainchild of John Bielenberg, partner and co-founder of the San Francisco-based design firm C2. Bielenberg has built his practice around a creative exercise called "Think Wrong," which challenges the brain's synaptic connections by encouraging participants to cast off embedded assumptions and approach design with a fresh perspective. In 2003, he founded Project M, an intensive immersion program meant to inspire designers, writers, filmmakers, and photographers to use their work for impacting communities around the country and the world.
Bielenberg was one of two recipients of the 2009 Skandalaris Awards for Entrepreneurship in Design & Visual Arts, which honor individuals who have demonstrated leadership and entrepreneurship in architecture, design, and the visual arts, particularly through community-based and/or sustainable practices. The second award went to Dr. Anna Rubbo, associate professor of architecture at the University of Sydney, for her work with Global Studio.
Each of the awards came with a $20,000 honorarium to support new or ongoing projects. Bielenberg used the award to further the work of Project M by purchasing the truck for (blank)LAB.
Visit the website, http://blanklab.org/engage/, to view a list of participants who have agreed to do "something meaningful with their lives," or to contact (blank)LAB for more information about its mission.