The Play Station on Market Street

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For a few days in October, Market Street got a little friendlier, a little more colorful, and a little more fun. The Play Station was live on the sidewalk, next to a bus stop just down the block from Powell Street. Our team was selected to join the Market Street Prototyping Festival, with support from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the SF Planning Department.

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Thousands of passersby from all walks of life stopped to interact with our kinetic bike sculptures or to take a spin on one of our three free public exercise bikes. Above, a young girl spins the hand-cranked LED bicycle wheel featuring a programmable LED light display from Berkeley’s own MonkeyLectric.

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We were fortunate to have wonderful weather for the entire installation. Here, visitors take the bikes for a spin, and the last rider plays a game of “Newspaper Delivery”. The game, a simple toss game designed by team mate Ivan Rodriguez, was a crowd pleaser as visitors got competitive about slinging the newspapers into a faux windowbox from the bike.

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A young visitor checks out one of the zoetropes designed by team mate Michael Huang, a popular attraction we placed to create a “soft edge” to our installation and draw people’s attention and interaction. Visitors could even draw their own zoetrope design on receipt paper. The zoetropes are mounted on bike wheels.

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The overhead canopy I designed from 4-way stretch mesh had the unexpected effect of creating dappled light and shade (we didn’t expect much sun), hung on a structure designed by team mate David Yao. It also achieved my personal aim of creating a sense of color and inviting space on drab Market Street.

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The whole design team. Not pictured – friends and significant others who helped load, carry, shop, paint, install, and volunteer on the festival days! We’ll share more insights shortly – data collection led by team mate Deland Chan will reveal more insights on how many visitors we had, how many interacted with various parts of The Play Station, and what their thoughts were about public space and Market Street.

The Play Station SF is coming!

This weekend, my team tested concepts for our upcoming installation, “The Play Station SF”, soon to be a temporary part of the Market Street sidewalk in downtown San Francisco.

We tested interactive kinetic bike sculptures, this one hand cranked and featuring a MonkeyLight Pro 256-LED wheel installation.

We also played with a teammate’s last minute fun addition – two hand made zoetropes created on horizontal spinning bike wheels.

There will also be a kinetic bike sculpture created from corrugated hose, to add a sound element.

A fun canopy to create color and a sense of place . .

And three spin bikes with a box full of games and challenges to play on them!

“Present Ground” now open at Hayes Valley Art Works

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Site-specific art installations by local artists are now live at “Present Ground”, a collection sited at Hayes Valley Art Works from Oct 1- Nov 5. Visit the site from Fri-Mon 12p-5p at the corner of Fell and Laguna Streets.

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I spent one very busy week busily prototyping my piece, OPEN/OPEN. From Lowe’s runs to geometry sessions, to midnight tests in the alleyway outside, it wasn’t clear if the piece would actually work onsite.

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Construction was designed with outdoor use in mind – including a strong wind.

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I learned the challenges of trying to construct a piece of public art in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with not outdoor space. It just doesn’t work. Not only was it impossible to lay out the fabric pieces, we ended up performing some dangerous moves to drill the holes (and hopefully, managed to clean up all the metal filing before the next bath).

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Collaborator Josh was on hand for a very, very hot installation day. Here, we test tensioning the piece. I intended it to be installed at a slant, but higher up. The natural bowing of the nylon webbing over 20 feet made the piece sag more than intended. The manpower you see here was sufficient to tension the piece, but attaching it to the 10-foot EMT conduit pipe caused the pipe to bow, so we decided not to tension it further.

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Here I am “interacting” with my piece.

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As intended, it looks cool in the wind.

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Poke around the construction site to find other unique installations . . like “The Hole To Bury Your Emotions In” and a honeybear.

OPEN / OPEN

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I’m currently hard at work on team urban design The Play Station SF, going live on downtown San Francisco’s Market Street October 6-8.

Now, I’m busy testing materials for another project that has just been confirmed! I’ve been selected to install a site-specific piece at an upcoming show entitled “Present Ground”, hosted by Hayes Valley Art Works.

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The Art Works is a community art space located in SF’s Hayes Valley neighborhood, and aims to activate an empty construction lot behind a condo development (which was recently constructed over the former Hayes Valley Farm site). HVAW is a temporary space in this city of development, and true to its nature, all of the artworks installed will also be temporary.

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On view Oct 1-Nov 5, my installation “OPEN/OPEN” comprises an overhead kinetic fabric piece that simultaneously attracts attention visually, while also delineating space in an unprogrammed site and blocking unrestricted peering inward to the site by neighbors and pedestrians.

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Construction materials are nylon cordura, webbing, swivel bolds, and EMT conduit pipe.

The public opening for “Present Ground” will take place at Hayes Valley Art Works at Laguna and Fell Streets on October 1 from 4-7 PM.

Green Alleys Pop-Up Class

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i recently had the opportunity to engage with stanford d.school again, pitching in on a fun “pop up class” which took place in a set of alleys between San Francisco’s Noe and Mission districts. the class, which invited a multi-disciplinary group of students to participate, along with neighbors and city officials, was designed to introduce students to new tools for observing spaces and also to learn about neighborhood-level sustainability, public space, and urban ecology efforts. 

i help the group start getting comfortable in the alley space, and get to know one another, with a fun interactive game of “walking tag” (more difficult than it sounds!), then d.school teaching fellows hannah and nihir led the group on to the main part of the day – observation in the alleys. the group was generously hosted by neighbors on the alley, who are active participants in the neighborhood’s “green alleys” action plan to improve the environmental sustainability and community resiliency of their little corner of San Francisco.

the workshop participants broke into groups based on different “lenses”, including: stormwater management, culture and politics, and stewardship. each group took a walk throughout the mapped areas, noticing (and noting) elements that stood out to them within a particular lens, such as drainpipes that dumped directly onto pavement, murals, native plants, unmaintained property, seating, color, and scent. 

concluding the workshop, students marked areas of particular interest, success, or future improvement on a large map of the area, and shared back what they learned about neighborhood and community work, environmental sustainability, and design thinking. 

Play in the Garden: Park(ING) Day 2015

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Photo via Kerri Stimson // Yoga Garden SF

Park(ING) Day 2015 took place this past Friday, September 2015. In cities across the world, creative thinkers took part in this DIY celebration of rethinking public space. Park(ING) Day was originally dreamed up by local design collective REBAR back in 2005, when they created a “temporary public park” by rolling out a piece of astroturf and a couple chairs in a metered parking space in downtown San Francisco. 

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Today, Park(ING) Day has become a global event where citizens, artists, designers, and activists collaborate to temporarily transform a metered streetside parking space into a fun and enjoyable public space, helping neighbors and cities re-imagine how we allocate space in urban environments.  

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Every year, I’m inspired by the fun takes on Park(ING) Day around the city, so this year I decided it was time to participate. I teamed with yoga studio Yoga Garden SF and coffeeshop Repose Coffee to create a fun, temporary relaxation and play space on the busy Divisadero corridor in San Francisco. We invited neighbors to “Come Play in the Garden”. 

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Photo by Kerri Stimson // Yoga Garden SF

For three hours, a boring old metered parking space was transformed into a sunny, welcoming, space for conversation over a cup of coffee and playful yoga poses. 

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Friends, alumni, and teachers at Yoga Garden stopped by to teach students and passersby a few poses, including Boxing Yoga (above). 

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Drivers were surprised to see people doing acrobatic poses as they sat stopped at the traffic light. 

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Photo by Joy Liu Yoga

The novelty of the space and the location really inspired people to have fun with it. The unexpected nature of parklets, Park(ING) Day, and urban interventions allows people to see space in a different way. Its amazing how simply putting down a couple rugs, benches, and potted houseplants (which took all of ten minutes), completely changed the vibe and the use of the 17 foot space. 

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Yoga Garden owner Marisa stopped in to perfect her headstand. 

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Photo via Joy Liu Yoga

The sunny weather inspired visitors to get creative with their postures. 

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We made sure to pay for our “space rental” at the parking meter. 

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Photo via Kerri Stimson // Yoga Garden SFAgainst my expectations, no one complained about our fun temporary parklet, and in fact we had plenty of interested passersby asking about the initiative. My favorite visit of the day was the SFMTA parking control officer in his little 3-wheeled cart who stopped by to chat. I was concerned that he would ask us to move, but he had heard about Park(ING) Day already and was just stopping by to say hi and check it out. Check out other parklets from around the world from this year’s event here. 

a giant spiny agave in potrero hill. check human for size comparison. this specimen had been “de-clawed” (to prevent snagging passersby?) – check out the tips of the leaves. agaves are a lovely drought-tolerant plant for your new california drought friendly landscaping – you’re already putting it in, right?