Member Spotlight: Meet Leigh

l2 For this edition of Member Spotlight, where we showcase the diverse creative work of our members, we chatted with freelance graphic designer Leigh Mignogna.  On a typical day you can find Leigh at her Studio Desk working on an app design, brainstorming a book layout or upstairs covering a table with post-its. A New York native, Leigh stuck around on this coast – she earned her Masters in Communications Design from Pratt Institute, worked as a designer at Paperwhite studio in NYC, and has held adjunct professor positions at Parsons, St. John’s University and Pratt Institute.  She specializes in visual identity, print, interactive and exhibition design.

Leigh is currently half of design partnership L&L and is serving as a Public Access Design fellow at the Center for Urban Pedagogy. Sometimes she also works with Intracollaborative, a collective of colleagues from Pratt who focus on socially-minded design. She chatted with us about working at Makeshift and the power of being your own boss. Check out some of her work below and signup for her Type 101 class on June 30! Or say hi when you see her at the next Members’ Breakfast! Hint: strike up a conversation about R Kelly…


The Geneva Kneue typeface was designed using code – a mathematically-based programming language called Metafont. (designed with Liz Seibert)

When did you realize you wanted to be a graphic designer?
My dad is a graphic designer, so I grew up surrounded by design. But, it wasn’t until college that I became serious about studying design myself. Like most 18 years olds, I had no idea what I wanted to study, so I suppose I gravitated towards what was familiar. I remember learning about Tibor Kalman around the same time and realizing that design could be political, provocative and smart.  Tibor’s work showed me the cultural importance and power of design. He’s been a big inspiration over the years.

What made you want to start L&L?
Fitting into someone else’s model of how a design studio should work never really made sense to me. Starting L+L meant that I could wake up every day and make my own rules. At the end of the day, Liz (the other “L”) and I are only responsible to ourselves, and for us, that’s huge.

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Identity and signage created for Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator with Intracollaborative.

Do you have a dream project?
Dream project: Something I know nothing about!

What are some of the tools that you use?
eyes for
looking ears
for listening
mouth for talking
hands for making
words for sharing


Graphics for a poster collaboration between Intracollaborative, CUP and the grassroots organization, CAAAV. The Chinese and English poster helps tenants understand rent stabilization laws and their rights as tenants.

What type of role does Makeshift Society play in your work?
When I first started L+L I was working out of my apartment and it was the worst. I felt really uninspired and would get lonely. At Makeshift, I’m surrounded by amazingly smart and creative individuals. Whether it’s asking for a second set of eyes from a deskmate or seeing the other things members are building, being surrounded by that energy is inspiring.

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Identity and logo for Sanaa BK (designed with with Liz Seibert)


The first publication of the newly minted Pratt Press, written, edited and designed by Leigh, Maura Frana and Liz Seibert. Using the lens of creative writing, the book explores the issues of authorship, language, typography, and self-expression as they relate to current practices in the graphic design field. The book was presented at the AIGA Design Educator’s Conference.


Identity for 2013 Pratt MFA thesis show, “This is Not Graphic Design.” Designed by Leigh, Maura Frana, Will Hoffman.

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.

Member Spotlight: Meet Matilde

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Meet the delightful and talented Matilde Rasmussen, our latest international visitor. Matilde spends her work days at her graphic design studio called All the Way to Paris but recently she made the 8 hour flight from Copenhagen to NYC for just two weeks to prepare for a digital storytelling project she’ll be working on during the Sasso Residency in Switzerland.

When she leaves NYC, Matilde says she’s going to miss “the culture, and all the great inexpensive food options here,” and of course, Makeshift Society! We enjoy having visitors like Matilde who come for a few days, a couple weeks, or maybe a month or two. Welcoming these temporary members of Makeshift Society means they expose us to their excellent work (see below for a sample of Matilde’s) and we help them get tied into the creative networks of New York.

Some of All the Way to Paris’ gorgeous work below.

Georg Jensen — December tales (2013)

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KSK – Center for Kræft og Sundhed København (2012)





If you happen to be an on out of towner, you can be a visitor too. Next time you’re traveling through New York for work or holiday, come say hi.

Building The Brand with Endswell

MSS_building the brand_endswell

We are starting off the New Year with a new speaker series entitled Building the Brand. It will encompass the fields of design and production exploring where the physical meets digital. It is a bimonthly event series where you can gain advice from creative professionals (designers, photographers and architects) who have created a physical product line with a Q&A style panel with them following the talk.

First up are Rachel Gant and Andrew Deming, the designers behind Endswell and Yield Design Co. Endswell is best described as the modern day heirloom. At Endswell they cast solid gold rings from 3-dimensional prints and hand-finishing them to perfection. They believe in creating pieces of value, imbued with meaning, that stand the test of time. They create rings that embody their own beliefs in the importance of good design and responsible sustainable production while respecting the past, yielding to the present and looking forward to the future.

Endswell is the creatives sister company to Yield Design Co. Yield is a San Francisco based design house creating products that pair progressive design with traditional craft. Yield goods are designed to encourage a vibrant lifestyle and to facilitate the better parts of life. Founded by Rachel and Andrew in late 2012, they have crafted numerous collections with a wide material vocabulary, all unified by a distinctive and refined sense of play.


As for Endswell, Rachel Gant and Andrew Deming found their inspiration for their new venture after designing the ‘Infinity’ pair of wedding bands for their close friends. In 2013 they began creating the line of rings that would become Endswell, consisting of rings designed for everyday as well as a “Commitment” collection of non-traditional wedding bands. Each design is a physical translation of a concept or feeling; the Infinity series reveals continuous surfaces and mobius strips to represent the concept of endlessness and the Align series shows a motion in which two pieces meet to become one. Each piece is a delicate balance of rich meaning and minimalist form.

With starting any company, there are unforeseeable challenges, especially when creating a physical product and manufacturing it. With our Building the Brand series, we look to bring you an inside peak of how brands break through the barriers they encounter and creative problem solving they tackle along the way. As a preview of what they will be discussing, we asked Andrew and Rachel what they found to be the most challenging thing about creating their own physical products:

“What we’ve found to be the most challenging is everything outside of the design of the products themselves–designing them has been the fun and easy part. It’s the operational challenges, figuring out the infrastructure that supports the ordering, manufacturing and fulfillment of our goods where we’ve encountered the most difficulty. It’s something we’ve had to learn on the fly, just by making mistakes and correcting. When we created Endswell, we tried to put a lot of what we learned from Yield into practice. We greatly simplified our supply chain and created a model where we didn’t need to go out of pocket to stock a large inventory before we could sell to customers.”

Join us for our founding Building the Brand talk this month at the clubhouse on January 27th to hear more on Endswell, Yield, and this dynamic duo!


Rachel Gant

Rachel earned her Bachelors in Industrial Design following a period of Architecture studies at Cal Poly. Her experience has ranged from a brief stint at the firm of architect Cass Calder Smith, to designing custom products for the playful photo store Photojojo. Rachel’s way of thinking is a bit unexpected, leading to unique pairings of ideas.

Andrew Deming

Andrew is a designer and strategist with a degree in graphic design and an MBA in Design Strategy from CCA. He is also cofounder of the city based experience sharing service Mosey. Prior to starting Yield, Andrew worked Yves Béhar at fuseproject where he took part in designing award-winning projects for clients such as Herman Miller, GE, and Sodastream Source.

What creative tools matter most to you?

Cleveland, Ohio is home to the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, an event intended to “inspire and enable the creative mind.” Rena was there this year to interview Lisa Congdon on stage (and vice versa) and enjoyed the festivities. There’s something good happening in Cleveland.

Photo borrowed from I am Emme

Photo borrowed from I am Emme

Makeshift Society also attended, in a way, as we were invited by Adobe to co-create a pop-up event. We focused on an area where both groups and the festival overlap: our mutual dedication to enabling creativity.

We asked people about their favorite creative tools: What tools matter most to you? More than 200 people took a minute to sketch their response both on paper and with Adobe Ideas on tablets. At the time we were considering the focus of our Kickstarter (3 days to go!), and the enthusiasm that came out of these drawings helped convince us that a tool library at Makeshift Brooklyn really was a good idea to carry forward.


With 22 drawings at WMC Fest, pencils and pens were the standout winner. Second place was filled with a series of 18 self portraits, or perhaps portraits of loved ones or other inspirational figures — though the only recognizable character was a Lego person named “Oliver”.


Anatomy was well represented with eyes (9), hands (7) and so many brains (16) that at least one zombie was attracted.


Consumables including music (16), alcohol in various forms (9), and stronger substances (4) also made an appearance. But then, so did pickles (1).


There were expressions of love for very specific features like the Pathfinder feature of Adobe Illustrator (1), the crop tool (1), and undo (2); as well as a more general appreciation of Wacom tablets (2), trackpads (2), and pink erasers (1). We want to know more about how a shovel (1) takes precedence in someone’s creative process, but when we saw another person praise spikes (1) our brows really went up!


Nature (3) was more popular than cities (2), but sleeping (1) tied with sitting on the toilet (1). So place matters too.

Thanks to Adobe for partnering with us on this project and to everyone who took a moment to draw their thoughts.

P.S. Note: at Makeshift we strongly believe that credit should be given where it is due. Not all of the drawings were signed, however, so we have not been able to attribute these lovely sketches. If you recognize something you submitted, please let us know so we can give you credit.