A design sprint to bring artists and builders together to dream big with cultural spaces
Dreaming Spaces is an initiative created by the Community Arts Stabilization Trust. It has the goal of “bringing together artists and designers of spaces and communities to envision what can be done presently to create and share art in safe environments, free from disease, discrimination, and violence.”
I facilitated a day-long community design sprint for the EastSide Arts Alliance — an organization of artists, cultural workers, and community organizers of color. I led a team of artists, architects, engineers, city planners, and public health experts through design thinking exercises to help EastSide re-imagine their theater space.
Role: Design lead, design sprint facilitator, experience designer
Tools: Miro, Zoom
Crafted a design thinking process that led to our design team to factor a more expanded concept of “openness” and “safety” into our designs.
Keeping EastSide’s priority of “feasibility” in mind, I led the design team in creating an implementation plan that prioritized projects by cost and impact.
Participated as one of the first UX designers in this pilot program, providing a template for how Dreaming Spaces can use design thinking to bring artists and builders to dream big with cultural spaces across the city and region!
Reviewing “dreaming” exercise
Prior to the design sprint, community leaders from the EastSide community met to envision the future of the organization. I took notes on each person’s vision as well as the visual diagram they created and transcribed all of these data points to Post-Its in Miro to prepare for the group design thinking exercises I would lead during the design sprint.
To kick off the design sprint with my team, I led an affinity mapping exercise to help the team establish priorities and a shared vocabulary for ideating sessions later in the day. Then we prioritized our groupings with dot voting to determine that we would focus our design efforts on the theater, public space, and the environment around the theater.
I led the group in naming our assumptions to further increase our alignment. We named and adopted the following assumptions:
- Design safety as sanctuary, not safety as policing
- Keep in mind how changes to the theater/sidewalk space impacts all other EastSide spaces and its neighbors
- Change the tone of the space through lighting, sound, and wayfinding — and keep in mind the need to provide a similar experience to patrons joining programming remotely
- Balance lighting and sound pollution’s impact on EastSide’s neighbors
- Prioritize flexible uses of the space
I led a conversation with EastSide leaders to define the following target user groups and user needs:
- Artists need opportunities to make innovative work
- Patrons (in-person) need safe ways to come together and enjoy art and community
- Patrons (streaming) need the same things, but from the comfort of their home
- Community members need a space to host their events
- Community organizations need a place to gather safely
Subject matter expert interviews
I interviewed four subject matter experts to help us factor these additional logistical restraints into our designs:
- Mitigating outdoor light and noise pollution
- Complying with the fire code and securing accessible parking and loading/unloading
- Ensuring public safety and crowd control with reopening the theater during COVID
- Making cost-effective upgrades to the theater’s HVAC system and effectively communicating risk and safety to patrons
Giving each team member 15 minutes to generate as many ideas as possible, we quickly compiled a massive list of solutions ranging from putting as many things on castors as possible to building a modular stage.
Finally, I led the group in organizing the design solutions on a matrix so that we could help EastSide prioritize projects that would have the highest impact for the lowest cost.
The EastSide Arts Alliance will incorporate our work from the design sprint into cost estimates for each solution and fundraising for priority projects.