MSS SF Residency Recap- Kiffanie Stahle

For the past five years I’ve been dreaming about the artist’s JD. During that time my daydreams have wildly varied. I’ve imagined everything from a workshop/event space that also hosts drop-in lawyer office hours to a simple blog.

However thanks to Makeshift Society’s residency program, I’ve got a vision and plan for the project. I can’t thank Rena enough for believing in my idea and for all of your kind words and support these past few months!

I will admit I was over ambitious when I crafted my residency proposal. I’ve crossed off some of my deliverables including the survey that many of you filled out (thanks again!) and one-on-one/small group meetings discussing your current legal business struggles. Others including branding elements are in the works.

The rest however, probably won’t ever get accomplished. Why you ask? The survey and meetings taught me that I was headed down the wrong path. I was trying to create something you didn’t really want or need.

So after listening to your input the project pivoted. I’m really excited about this pivot for two reasons.

The first reason is that this new model actually addresses the questions that you asked over and over again. It’s providing you the materials that you want in a way that you’ve told me you want them. It’s putting you first, not me.

The second reason is that I love teaching and this model requires me to focus on it! I get all nerdy and excited talking about something that seems overwhelming and complex and breaking it down. I love making abstract concepts concrete with real world examples, translating legalese into plain English, and sending you off with simple action steps you can take in your business.

Because I listened to the *amazing* feedback I got from you, the current model involves two parts:

Simple, straightforward legal tips on the blog. Each week the artist’s JD blog will give you information on different legal aspects of your creative business. You’ve told me you have lots of questions about LLCs, contracts, copyright, trademark, licensing, website disclaimers, and how to keep your email newsletter legit. I will be crafting my editorial calendar for the next year solely around the questions that you asked me during my MSS residency.

Online and in-person workshops. Many of you told me that you like the idea of self-study materials but know that you’ll read them and never apply them. That’s a big waste of your time and money. What I heard from you was that a more structured format would result in action. But only if paired with action items and a plan of attack. Because knowledge without action is useless, I’m working on finalizing my first workshops. The logistics are still being worked out, but the course will help protect your business and open the door to new business opportunities all by taking the simple step of forming a LLC.

I’m really excited about where things are headed and the direction that you have given the project. If you are interested in staying in the loop, you can join my mailing list here.

Thanks again to the entire Makeshift Society community for all your thoughts, insights, support, and questions my project will be a million times better because of you.


photo credit: Portraits To The People 


Working Late with Adobe Typekit

At Makeshift Society, a subject close to our hearts is typography. We’ve dreamed of making a building-sized type specimen on our facade. We’ve fawned over Genath’s jaunty lowercase y when choosing it as the new Makeshift typeface. Oh yeah, it’s like that. We’re nerds for type.

Which means that the opportunity to team up with Adobe Typekit to throw a typography-themed event in Brooklyn was easy to say “yes” to. So easy, in fact, that we said yes four times and turned it into a whole event series celebrating typography and the people who love it. We’re calling it Working Late.


Image courtesy of Frank Chimero

One of my favorite things is to watch the “ah-ha” moment happen when people are deep in conversation and someone learns a new thing. You can almost see it on their face. That’s a big part of why we created Makeshift — it’s designed to be a place where casual conversations and formally organized events both lead to new discoveries.

Each of the Working Late events are a chance to meet others who are into the same lettery goodness, learn some new things, celebrate design, and enjoy great food and drink from around Brooklyn. Space is limited at each of these:

September 16: Talking type

We’ll kick off with a panel discussion with Frank Chimero and Jen Mussari, discussing how they use type in both physical and digital mediums, and how they work type into the larger context of their design processes. The discussion will be moderated by Tim Brown. Come hungry: we’ll have chicken and grilled veggie skewers from @YakitoriNYC.

October 2: Crit night

Missing that unvarnished criticism that flows so freely in design school, or around a table of peers? We’ll give three individuals the chance to publicly present one of their projects and receive immediate feedback from Ellen LuptonJason Santa Maria, and James Victore. Three people will be selected for the review, but we’ve got room for plenty more to come and listen in. Even if you’re not ready to share, come anyway to enjoy some wine, nosh on a charcuterie spread from Saucy by Nature, learn something from your brave peers, and meet other people who love type.

(It’s not too early to submit your project for consideration! Sign up here if you’re ready. We’ll notify the selected participants on September 25.)

October 14: Coworking night

Join us for a fun night of coworking; we’ll be serving drinks, the good folks of Lonestar will be dishing out tacos, and it will be a great chance to talk with others about your works in progress. Team members from Typekit, Behance, and the Creative Cloud teams will be here to answer questions, listen to ideas, and help you get past roadblocks. Bring your work in progress, meet people, ask questions, and share ideas about your creative projects.

November 11: Project breakdown

It’s time to look at the big picture. Kelli Anderson will share her design process from beginning to end, starting with a quick presentation of an ambitious design project and then jumping back to the first client meeting, walking through every step of the design and development. This will give you insight into how a pro designer brings an idea from concept to full realization. Come ready to take notes, and save some room for dessert — we’re cooking up a sweet surprise to close out the series.

Tickets for each event are available for $10 apiece on EventBrite. You can sign up today for any of the single events, or go all in on the four-part series package for $30.

See you there!

We’ve got an Insulation Installation

The horizon on summer 2014 is in sight, which means the season’s projects are coming to fruition. This week we had an opening party for The Foam Agency’s (TFA) project at Makeshift Brooklyn, which was completed by Elisa Werbler and Lucy Knops as the focus of their residency this summer.

Watch the making of the wall, then I’ll explain what it is.

That’s what you get when you go around to lots of architecture and design offices and ask them for the scraps in their model shops. Many offices use rigid insulation foam, a material meant for the inside of walls, as a quick way to make models. With a hot wire, it cuts like butter — slightly toxic butter!


Armed with bags and bags of scraps, the TFA assembled the pieces inside the wall of our conference room to create something of a neo-stained glass. The effect is gorgeous, with dappled light filtering through. Plus the pieces themselves tell the story of the design process inside all of the offices that contributed.

Here’s before:


And after:



The TFA also made a small newspaper that explains the process and includes an excellent map of all of the contributions. You can pick one up by visiting us at 55 Hope Street in Brooklyn.

photo 4 photo 5

Here’s a short essay I wrote about the project and what it means to us:

Tuck into a bar or cafe in Brooklyn and one is likely to find the walls artfully covered with strips of rusticated wood and patinated metal. This familiar tableaux was the aesthetic of the early 21st century—a comfortable nostalgia guiding you back to a time before we waged wars against non-state agents, before our beloved phones were turned into surveillance devices, before we found out precisely how much we have messed up our planet’s ecosystem.

In the thematic environments of prohibition speakeasies, art deco bakeries, and nineties norm core cafes, we live our thoroughly contemporary lives. We fight the fear of missing out by hanging one more brass light fixture, reviving one more recipe previously lost to history. Nothing is missed because everything can be replayed. It’s all so comfortable.

Our devices have finally been ridded of skeuomorphic interfaces, but the spaces we inhabit cling to the idea of being faux-miliar. The city of today is no longer constructed outright, but is reassembled from memories, filtered through movies, and built with whatever can be claimed to be reclaimed. The Insulation Installation invites you to live in an adjacent world.

Here the materials are also recycled, but from processes rather than heritage. The Foam Agency, led by Lucy Knops and Elisa Werbler, has canvassed the city’s architectural, industrial design, and fabrication studios to collect offcuts and scraps from rigid insulation foam. These pieces, the discarded siblings of models and mockups produced by participating studios, formed the raw material of a permanent installation at Makeshift Society Brooklyn.

Rigid insulation foam is one of the quiet heroes of modern construction. Behind building facades and inside walls, it works relentlessly to prevent drafts and keep moisture at bay. Artists and designers have adopted this incredible material as a tool for expressing their ideas because of its low cost and high flexibility. From beautifully articulated, hand-crafted models to full scale architectural mock-ups, rigid foam has become an integral part of the making process.

In the Insulation Installation foam is restored to its natural habitat—the cavity of a wall—where the many scraps come together to form a single texture visible through polycarbonate cladding. Evident in the irregular shapes, and gaps between them, are traces of this particular city’s intellectual production at this particular time. What’s actually on display is the exploratory thought process of the participating offices. Foam is just the medium.

This project makes playful references, but does not go so far as to import dusty tropes from history. It’s an unassuming interpretation of the heavy stone walls at Herzog & De Meuron’s Dominus Winery (itself a modernization of Roman gabion construction). It’s a legitimate reuse of toxic trash, but resists being greenwash propaganda. The completed wall is confetti in slow motion; a celebration of long hours hunched over the hot-wire cutter making, making, making.

The world of the Insulation Installation is one where history is present, but not a crutch. There’s nothing to miss out on, because everything’s here, right now, all around us. We’re responsible for making it happen. This is a speck of a reminder: history may be inescapable but the walls, buildings, and streets that we have are the ones that we claim for ourselves.

The residency program is open to anyone who has a great idea for a project (but please read the criteria closely). And of course you’re welcome to book our conference room by the hour if your having foam-o.

Please join us on August 28 for the monthly mixer, and the opening of another residency project, this one by Gina Furnari.

Why join Makeshift Society?



Why do people join Makeshift Society, you ask? Well, here are a few reasons from our newest bunch of members:

“Otherwise, my company, is a small group of like-minded creative women of color trying to do things right!” –Dianne Que

“I’m a writer and would love to have a community of other creatives to work with and around.” — Kristina Johnson

“Because I love the community, the space, and the value makeshift provides to SF.” — David Holl

“We need a space to be creative.” –Irene Duller

“Working from home isn’t very effective for me anymore, and I’m always searching for a good creative community!” –Christine Herrin

“I want to build relationships in the community.” — Arianna Orland


p.s. apply now for membership at either our San Francisco or Brooklyn location.