“The Universal Silver Platter” at FIGMENT Oakland

On Saturday, June 10th, the Universal Silver Platter opened in downtown Oakland. For just one day, we handed people whatever they needed or desired most on a silver platter.

FIGMENT   is a participatory art festival that takes place in a few cities across the US. Artists, designers, and entertainers come together to create fun, creative pop-up experiences open to the public. My friend Josh L suggested the festival, and my friend Josh H joined the project when we decided we wanted to jump on the opportunity to create a fun, playful experience for our community.

After a quick brainstorming session, we riffed off the idea of using an actual silver platter that I had to symbolize the current political discourse around entitlements. Rather than having privileged, smug, politicians telling people they should just work harder, and that they don’t deserve or even need assistance with education, healthcare, or housing, we decided that for one day, you DO deserve to have whatever you need “handed to you on a silver platter”.

Our team quickly prototyped a nail board to collect the collective story of what people needed and wanted on installation day. We dubbed it the “USP Data Accumulator” to fit with our theme of the Silver Platter being like a government bureau or information desk. The idea was to have each participant choose a colored rubber band based on the theme of their wish or desire, then attach it to the nail board based on their relationship with the person who granted their wish and the outcome of their wish.

Participants were invited to express a need, wish or desire. We asked visitors to fulfil one another’s wishes, and if a single visitor came up, a “U.S.P. Technician” (one of the designers) would draw their wish. Once the wish was represented graphically or with words, the wish grantor would hand the completed wish to the recipient on one of our shiny silver platters.

Finally, the person who had just had their wish handed to them on a silver platter would add a rubber band to the data accumulator.

There were quite a few other fun installations happening that day in Oakland’s Mosswood park:

And by the end of the installation day, we had so many rubber bands stretched on our nailboard, that they started popping off!

We had a lot of fun playing with the visitors to the U.S.P. booth, and had a number of interesting and illuminating conversations. Some of our visitors wished for something quite meaningful and serious – a healthy body, a child, family reconciliation. Others wished for something more lighthearted like a goat to eat their neighbor’s ivy, or a fried chicken sandwich. One of our younger visitors had the following, slightly creepy wish:

It was a day well spent, facilitating conversations and granting wishes to our friends and neighbors.

Brainstorm & Design Team Session #4 – “What if I-280 Came Down” Workshop. What kind of neighborhood do we want Mission Bay and Mission Creek to be? How can the designs and elements we choose today change the trajectory of future development of the area? How can we avoid cookie-cutter, formula retail, bland development without a story, without a history and without a place? Only one more week until our final presentation is due! 

Knotting string plant holder made from recyclables – new DIY is live here! Remember, I can’t condone it unless you use a recycled glass jar or plastic container….the US has the highest rate of packaging waste in the world, so get cracking!

If you have a patio, deck, or backyard, you have a leg up on my tiny San Francisco apartment. That also means you can make a set of these cool recycled tin can votive lanterns for your next BBQ or party! I made them, but haven’t actually used them yet – just waiting for my indoor/outdoor garden party lifestyle to start! In the meantime, why don’t you make some? Check out my recent DIY post to see how. 


More soon on the above projects…

  • Shibori dyeing (moderate success)
  • Custom ottoman (aesthetic success; functional failure)
  • Masking tape chevron canvas floormat (creation problematic; functional success)
  • Various paper ornaments (success; failure to upload DIYs in time for Christmas!)
  • Red hot coffee table with lobster stencil (in progress)

The girls at honestlywtf! have some really fun DIY jewelry and clothing ideas – if you’re sitting around in your backyard this weekend I highly recommend crafting yourself something while you listen to This American Life or something. Or perhaps drinking a homebrew. Check out their wrap bracelet instructional here, and also, you could knit some bunny nuggets like I’m doing this weekend – Dangercraft has an instructional on those too! 

P.S. Boldface Brewing is taking babysteps! Jonathan is currently testing mini batches of coffee stout with different SF roasteries!