Towards the end of thesis and the before we graduated in May 2018, Nancy’s friend Susan Meiselas came to ITP with an awesome open ended proposal. For the first time, the coal and ice exhibit that had travelled a few places was thinking of having an extension - they wanted a Solutions Space at the end of the overwhelming dark documentary photo exhibit.
They had rented the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason in San Francisco and wanted to give us the last part to design - it was around 10,000 sq feet.
They gave us rough measurements and a few pictures of the site.
We were pitched that they had a budget and that they are still in the works of raising funds so there would more budget as we went along.
This exhibit was supposed to go up in September and be up for almost a month. Something often told to experience designers, creative technologists, exhibit makers is that it needs to be ‘magical’, it needs to spark ‘curiosity’, it needs to be something people take away with them when they leave. We heard all of this.
Nancy put it together well, she said it needs to have something for all three kinds - the streakers, the strollers and the scholars.
An interesting aspect to this story is that designing for a topic like ‘Solutions to Climate Change’ is laborious and massive task. We weren’t designing a Museum of facts, we were telling our story and our understanding of future technologies. Something to keep in mind, is that there’s always political propagandas, vested interests and innumerable other factors that play into climate justice beyond the control of designers.
So we dove into this task - we started looking at resources available to us. We were especially enamored by Drawdown and it was a good place to start. We all picked topics, debated, brainstormed, iterated and after lots of post it notes, meetings, charts, graphs, venn diagrams we started to take information and translate it to a space.
We proposed an island, with different parts explaining different topics like Energy, Algae, Waste treatment, carbon sequestration, regenerative agriculture, energy storage - molten salt, transportation, etc. There were information kiosks at the end and an interactive impact wall and most of the exhibits on the island were didactic through interactions.
After we made detailed plans of the designs and sent them to a few fabricators in California and Asia Society, along with pitching to Orville Schell, we were told we are artists and designers and the future, and it matters more what we think so we should proceed with it. The fabricators came back with a budget of $500,000. At this point, we got one vital piece of information - this was way above their budget. Whilst we played a guessing game with ‘what’s the budget?’ we iterated over the designs and came up with a new design plan - a modular one - to make sure we can reduce costs on multiple points as we proceed.
and that is phase two!
to be continued….