Meet The Resident: Deland Chan

Meet Our First Quarter Resident: Deland Chan- Makeshift Society We are welcoming the first resident of 2015, Deland Chan to our community!Deland is a Lecturer in Urban Studies at Stanford, where she teaches Sustainable Cities, a project-based service learning class where students collaborate with Bay Area government agencies and non-profit organizations on sustainability projects. In addition, she founded the International Urbanization initiative, which offers students a comparative approach to sustainable development in the world’s most rapidly urbanizing countries, with a particular focus on China. It’s only natural for her to continue her focus on the community and urban planning during her residency project.

For her time here at Makeshift, she is pursuing two projects. First, she is working with an elementary school teacher in San Francisco and plan to co-facilitate my first design thinking workshop with a first grade classroom later this month. This is to build off of the existing design thinking that she teaches at the Stanford Institute of Design, or, exploring the intersection of design thinking,  placemaking, and community building in urban environments. Most recently, I taught Design for Everyday Social GoodDesigning for Communities at Play, and will be offering Creative Tools for Urban Spaces in the Spring.

Meet Our First Quarter Resident: Deland ChanDuring the process, youth will be exposed to concepts of creating to form tangible, positive outcomes with their own hands. Youth WPA nurtures early successes to inspire self-confidence, a greater sense of self-efficacy and engagement, and acts as a catalyst to encourage youth to reach for bigger future opportunities. She has had experience with older students in college level. She has traveled with students abroad to China to tackle some of the infrastructures in public spaces there. For her project she is bringing it a little closer to home with a different age set, but many of the same principles remain with design thinking and planning.

For her second project, she is working with the Chinatown Community Development Center to lead an experiential learning trip for Chinatown high school youth to travel to Vancouver later this Spring to learn about innovative urban planning policies.


Meet Our First Quarter Resident: Deland Chan Deland has been working on improving many aspects of our city that extends beyond public structures. Recently she has been involved in a project to improve the immensely dense Chinatown neighborhood. The teams goal was to create a community vision to improve pedestrian conditions and safety conditions along a major four-lane road. During the project, Deland wrote as well as executed the public engagement strategy and coordinated translation of all outreach, workshop, and presentation materials. She also organized and led community meetings, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups while working with the San Francisco Planning Department to host the community outreach workshops.  Meet Our First Quarter Resident: Deland Chan She previously became acquainted and worked with young members of our community when she came helped in developing The Safe Walks to School project. They aimed to create a series of workshops and curriculum in order to encourage walking and bicycling with the 5th graders attending Jean Parker Elementary School in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Urban planning concepts were introduced to the students to help them understand how and why transportation planners create streets and implement design changes to make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The workshops were designed and led by TRIP members with Deland’s guidance. Deland developed the leadership potential of young members of the Chinatown Transportation Research Improvement Project (TRIP), a 35-year old grassroots transportation advocacy group committed to improving transportation issues in San Francisco’s Chinatown.The workshops enabled TRIP members to build stronger relationships with one another and solidify their understanding of Chinatown transportation planning concepts in order to teach the younger participants. You can find out more on all of the projects Deland has been involved in here. Be sure to say hello if you see her around the clubhouse or the city! We are excited to see what she accomplishes during her residency at Makeshift!

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 


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.

BK Summer Residents – The Foam Agency



At Makeshift Brooklyn, we love our large conference room. It has wood dry erase boards, a large monitor for presentations, and very strong air conditioning (when you want it). This Summer, our residents Elisa and Lucy will be transforming the room into a work of art by doing an installation inside our translucent wall.


Their project transforms the polycarbonate wall of the conference room into a community design story using reclaimed foam. The two product designers, aka The Foam Agency, will collect materials that have already passed through the hands of creatives and recycle them as  “An Insulation Installation.” It will document and showcase foam “that has already lived an exciting life, foam that has been sawn into pieces, shaped with hot-wire cutters, hacked away with a rasp or sanded down with 600 grit sandpaper.” Here at Makeshift Society you will not find any reclaimed wood, but reclaimed foam is fair game.


Their first submission comes from Steve: “This foam was requisitioned from a scrap pile at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and was destined for prototyping greatness, but when I heard about The Foam Agency I was like… ‘YEAH! This foam needs a home!’”

Follow The Foam Agency on their tumblr and stop by Makeshift Brooklyn for some sweet stickers and patches.

Submit your own foam here!




Update from BK Summer resident Gina

This week at the Brooklyn Clubhouse we chatted with resident Gina Furnari about the progress of her small paintings project.

Q. Could you give us a summary of your project?

A. My project is a series of 200 small paintings (2 x 3 inches) to be exchanged for personal responses (written or visual). The paintings themselves are personal collections of visual data, colors, textures, and patterns I see around me everyday, and wish to explore further. They are a sort-of record of my life experience and I’m hoping to see the ways they intersect with other peoples lives and experiences. I’d like to know why someone chose a particular piece, if it sparks a memory or an emotion…If there are stories to be told, I want to hear them. While the paintings alone are my side of the story the project will be a shared narrative.The exchange will take place towards the end of my residency at Makeshift Society Brooklyn. Every letter, story, or original object will be photographed and appear here alongside the painting it was traded for. My goal is to connect with others using my artwork as a catalyst. The project will create a platform to share and meet new people acting almost like an ice breaker at a party. Hopefully resulting in a shared sense of pride and ownership.

Gina Furnari small watercolors

Q. How does working with a small size change how you compose and create your paintings? Do you prefer this size?

A. Working this small has changed a lot about how I paint. There is very little planning needed to get started, and the first few marks determine how each painting will go. It’s almost like algebra for me. I have a set amount of space and a set material and then I can solve for whatever problems present themselves. A lot of these have shifted dramatically from my original intention. Those shifts are pretty visible because watercolor is additive so the darker paintings are often the ones where it took a longer time for me to figure out a composition that I was happy with. These paintings are also much more spontaneous than any of my other work. I get to experiment more with types of brushstroke and color combinations that I don’t normally use. I think scale is part of the piece. There are things I can do at this size that I couldn’t if they were larger paintings.

Gina Furnari

Q. What are some of the everyday things that inspire you?

A. I’m really crazy about color and I’m most often inspired by my environment. I don’t think it’s ever really possible for me to capture a sunrise or a great city or landscape as they are but, I love working from the general patterns and impressions they leave behind. I turn to the web a lot as well, I like finding great pallets or compositions and playing with them for my own purposes.


Q. Do you have a favorite spot to sit at Makeshift?
A. I don’t really have a favorite spot the whole space is really pretty and has tons of natural light so I’m happy anywhere.
Follow Gina’s progress on her blog.