Designer bees: Marathon session for architects, artists
“The mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create 11 design projects in 12 hours and hand them off completed to clients. This RFP will destruct in 30 seconds”Š”
At 10:30 this morning, 35 volunteer design professionals, working in teams of three or four, went to work on 11 pro-bono design projects for area nonprofits. It’s all part of the second annual Design Marathon at the Charlottesville Community Design Center on the Downtown Mall, which wraps up at 10pm tonight.
The event is the brainchild of Serena Gruia, creative director for Alloy Workshop, who floated the idea to CCDC’s director Jane Fisher last year. You may not have heard of Alloy, a construction/architecture/graphics design company, but we’d be surprised if you’re not familiar with some of their work. They created the distinctive logo for sushi place Ten, the Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers [CLAW] book with photog Billy Hunt, burger place Boylan Height’s logo, and the newly constructed Rise Pizzaworks in the Barracks Road Shopping Center.
Gruia says she had wanted to find a way for designers in the area to freely
collaborate, without the normal professional pressures of working for a firm or a client, and what came to mind was a dance marathon for charity that she remembered her high school holding.
“Originally, I had wanted it to be 24 hours,” says Gruia excitedly, before admitting that wasn’t workable for most design professionals. “So we changed it to a day-time event.”
Gruia says she was also attracted to the CCDC’s light-filled space on the Mall, which is above Bashir’s in the Market Street parking garage complex. Inside, separated by partitions, teams of designers were busy hammering out ideas.
“It’s so cool to pollinate like this,” says Gruia.
UVA design student Abby Larner – each design team had to include a student–was busy working on a new logo in a branding campaign for CvilleRail, a project championed by Meredith Richards, which just brought a new, daily Amtrak train from Lynchburg to D.C. and the Northeast to Charlottesville on Wednesday with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine onboard. Part of the challenge now for the new train, which is costing Virginia tax payers $10.6 million over the next three years, is getting people to ride on it.
Another group was creating something long overdue for the Jefferson Madison Regional Library–a new library card design. Indeed, the dull, tan-colored card has been a worn presence in the wallets and purses of library-goers for years. New concepts included an animated reptile and puppy for children, and graphics that emphasize other media, like a stack of books wearing headphones and a shiny image of a CD.
Landscape architect Eugene Ryang and his team were busy working on creating “outdoor learning environments” at Jackson-Via Elementary, where school officials say 70 percent of the student body is considered “at risk.”
“They go home and can’t play outside or even go near their windows because of the fear of drive-by shootings,” Ryang says his design group was told.
Beside an architectural drawing of the school and its grounds, about a dozen drawings by students expressed their wishes for what outdoor areas, which may include an edible schoolyard and a wildlife habitat garden, might look like.
Wes Webb, a designer at Alloy, and his group were at work on a new logo and brochures for Kid Pan Alley, a local nonprofit that holds song-writing workshops for children across the country.
“This is a great way to get involved with other designers,” says Webb.
Other projects included a logo design for the Montessori Community School, a marketing campaign for Habitat for Humanity and for the Quality Community Council, an overhaul of two teacher’s lounges at Burnley-Moran Elementary, and an office renovation at the Second Street Gallery.
With plenty of Mudhouse coffee on hand, and food donated by the recently opened Market Street Market, the stage appeared to be set for some rare collaboration and perhaps a little creative magic.