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)

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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.

RMIT comes to Makeshift

This week we’ve had a group of six students from RMIT in Melbourne working with us and it’s great to have all these new faces around. The students of RMIT University are big on coworking, and we’re pumped that they came all the way from Australia and choose us to be their hosts.

We were able to catch up with a few of the students in the School of Media and Communication program this afternoon, so say hello to Tanya Wasylewski, Helen Cheung, and Numan Naveed (from left to right). We asked what they like most about working at Makeshfit Society and they responded: light, more light, and the productive, calm atmosphere.

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They’ve been exploring NYC for just over a week and have already found some favorite Williamsburg spots (besides us, of course). Helen, a graphic design student, loves meandering down Bedford Ave, Tanya, an educational technology student, just discovered one of our favorite neighborhood spots, Saltie, and Numan, also a graphic design student, spent this past weekend checking out a bookbinding fair and hopping around Brooklyn rooftops. To aid their explorations we slipped them each a copy of the Makeshift Society neighborhood map, and you can check it out too right here on Jauntful.

MSS Member Spotlight- Einat Argaman

Today’s MSS Member Spotlight features Einat Argaman, who runs the blog Design Break.

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How would you describe Design Break?

DesignBreak shines a spotlight on emerging designers as well as veteran and/or less well-known designers and brands, and helps them get discovered by the public and by the industry. DesignBreak is constantly inspired by new designers and trends of the scene, and while it has a strong personality of its own, it’s always evolving and growing with the times. In 2009 I started out as a blogger trying spread the word about the impressive design scene in Israel (that’s one of the reasons I decided to write it in English) and that’s how and why it all started. Today the blog is more international (and features designers from around the world (moving to San Francisco helped :).

Most of the designers (like I once used to be) like doing their own thing, designing from morning to evening in their studio without worrying about anything else. I guess that in a way, I’m helping them spread the word out. Some know what’s needed to be done but there are others who need to be pushed and be encouraged and that’s what I’m here for.

What made you want to start Design Break?

I studied Interaction & Digital Media Design (a long long time ago). At the beginning of my design career I worked as an e-learning designer and then switched to web design. At some point I decided that I needed to explore a different path. I found out that I love to design but not so much designing for someone other than myself. So, after much thought, and being encouraged by my partner, I quit my job and took some time to think about my next step in life.

I used to sit in front of my computer and gaze for hours at so many inspiring design blogs and I was really blown away by all of the variety. I wasn’t thinking about a blog of my own and actually it was my partner who came up with the idea (he knows me better than I do). After giving it some thought, I decided to give it a try. I always wanted to be some sort of an ambassador, so writing about the mad talent in Israel sounded like an obvious choice.

What does an average day look like for you?

You can say that for me design comes first and that is how I choose to live my life. I love being surrounded by white spaces, dashes of colors and lots of amazing designers. Oh and… most importantly, my coffee breaks are crucial for my everyday survival. I guess that being some sort of Instagram junky is also a big part of my daily life. Most days I start by scrolling down my Instagram and Pinterest feeds (actually that’s also how my night ends) while I have a big cup of latte in my hand. After eating a huge bowl of fresh fruits and drinking another cup of latte, I sit in front of my computer and go through my inbox (I must say that being approached by designers that otherwise I wouldn’t have known about, feels pretty special. I’m also lucky enough to establish a close bond with most of the top design schools in Israel and their PR department informs me about what’s going on during the school year). A few times a week, mid day I’ll schedule a couple of meetings with local designers or bloggers. I always make a point to combine it with a gallery or a design shop visit (and a yummy treat on the side). After a few hours away from my computer, I’ll go back home and to sitting in front of my beloved computer. Answer some emails and continue working on future posts and other projects. I love sitting in front of my computer and just sailing away to the unknown and that’s never going to change.

What are some of the tools that you use?

As far for apps and programs, I usually use Photoshop and wordpress as my right hand. I also try and keep up with my ever-floating bloglovin/feedly and Evernote.  Since Instagram came to my life, I began following a few design students and from their feeds I discover a whole new world of talented people. Pinterset and also my FaceBook feed is filled with lots of design related news that I go through each and every day to stay on to of things.

What is your workspace like?

To be honest, it’s still a work in progress.  I always need a bright and white space so my white table and white chair are a must. My iMac (a pretty new and exciting gift from the Mr.) makes everything looks a lot fancier. Other than that, you can find lots of patterned pans, few black and white notebooks (most of them will have a polka dot flare) and ceramic stamps on top of my table. Oh and recently I bought one of Courtney Cerruti’s illustrations and I’m so happy to look at it each and every day.

What type of role does Makeshift Society play in your work?

I moved to San Francisco from Israel about a year ago. I remember learning about Makeshift Society before knowing I would move, I didn’t even imagine ever visiting it in person. BUT the minute I knew that San Francisco is going to be my new home I had a feeling that Makeshift will play a big role in my new adventure. Coming to a new country with no friends or family, I had to find myself a home away from home and assembly a new creative net. And so, at the beginning I visited the clubhouse once a week and began learning the “American way of being” in small inspirational doses. I met some pretty special and inspiring girls that some of them became with time some of my favorite people in the city (hi there, Ashley and Kat!)  A while back I switched to being a supporting member and I can honestly say that the mailing list and the ability to read and be introduced to some of the bay area’s most talented and diverse people makes a big difference in the way I explore the creative side of the city. I learn about upcoming shows and events that I get to explore first hand and then write about or even discover new and exciting creators in so many disciplines. You can say that now it’s more of informative kind of role but it’s much more than that. It makes me feel like there are so many like minded people out there that I still want to get to know and learn about and Makeshift is right there by my side to guide me in the right direction. It must sounds a bit cheesy but that’s how I feel…

 

MSS Member Spotlight- Kent Hudson

Over the next couple of days/weeks we’ll be rolling out interviews done with MSS members conducted by Samantha Macy.

First up, independent video game developer Kent Hudson.

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How would you describe The Novelist?

The Novelist is a game about the struggle to follow your dreams without pushing away the people you love. It’s about a novelist named Dan Kaplan, his wife Linda, and their son Tommy, but you don’t play as any of them: you play as a spirit inhabiting the house they’ve rented for the summer. You can’t harm the Kaplans, and in fact your job is to stay out of sight so they don’t know you’re there. By doing that, you can explore their different career vs. family struggles and decide what they should do; despite the ghostly premise, the game is focused on real-life dilemmas.

For example, what should Dan do when his agent calls to tell him that he has an important book-signing event on the same day as Linda’s grandmother’s funeral? What about when Tommy’s doctor recommends that his parents tutor him for two hours a day to overcome a mild learning disability, even though their busy schedules make finding that time almost impossible?

Each dilemma has three possible outcomes, each of which is sympathetic to one of the characters, and you as the player have to decide what the family should do. There’s no winning or losing; you simply make the decisions you feel are best and take an active hand in shaping the Kaplans’ story.

The hook is that none of the situations have a right or wrong answer – or, more specifically, as the game designer I don’t specify what the right answer is. Questions about career dreams vs. family life are difficult, and I don’t pretend to know all of the answers. Making this game was in many ways an embodiment of my own struggle with that question, and as a game designer it’s exciting to me that I can make a question game, not a message game.

Since The Novelist doesn’t advocate one specific viewpoint, each player has to bring their own beliefs to the game, and many players have learned about their own values through the choices they’ve made. It may be surprising to hear this about a game, but I get emails from players who were deeply affected by The Novelist and were often moved to tears by what they learned about themselves. It’s really humbling to hear that the game is having that kind of impact for people.

What does an average day look like for you?

With independent game development there isn’t really an average day! Some days I focus solely on PR work and interviews, and on other days I focus on business and industry stuff, but on most days I just work on the game.

Though when you’re focusing a personal project, even working on the game brings something different every day. One day I might be writing character dialogue, the next day I could be tracking down a weird bug that only happens on one person’s computer, and the day after that I might be trying to get the game’s UI to line up a certain way.

I spent over a decade as a member of huge teams in the AAA industry, which means that I had a specialized skill set and was focused on specific areas of the games I worked on, so the switch to independent development was a huge eye-opener. I had to learn how to do tons of things that I’d never done before – audio, music, UI, writing, managing contractors, recording VO, etc. – while also running the business and publicity side, things which were also completely new to me.

So about the only thing I can say about an average day is that I’m working really hard on something, and it’s probably something I’ve never done before.

What are some of the tools that you use?

The main tool I use is a game engine called Unity. It’s become very popular with independent developers because it’s a low-cost alternative to traditional game engines, and it’s also very flexible in terms of the kinds of games you can make. I also use a variety of software that isn’t game-specific, like Scrivener and Evernote. I actually did a write-up of all my tools for a blog post last year, so if you want the full breakdown you can check it out here.

What is your work space like?

I have a pretty simple setup at home, just a desk with an external monitor for my laptop. Since I work on a computer each day I don’t have many requirements beyond a power outlet, which makes it easy to switch back and forth between home and Makeshift. At home I have a bigger screen, so some types of game work are a bit smoother, but it’s easy to bring my laptop to Makeshift a few days a week. I just grab an open spot (usually at one of the big tables by the front window), get to work, and take advantage of the easy access to great coffee in the neighborhood.

What makes video games important?

Wow, that’s a big question! I’m stealing a bit from my answer to the next question, but I think that games are important because they’ve opened up new ways for the audience to experience interesting worlds and interact with fascinating people. You can watch a great story in a movie or read about memorable characters in a book, but in a game you can be one of those characters. You can explore a fully-realized world at your own pace, in your own way.

That isn’t to say that games can or should replace other mediums; each art form has its own magical qualities and unique strengths. But the ability to create your own experience, to immerse yourself in an amazing setting, to make meaningful decisions that shape not only the story, but the world itself? That’s a wondrous thing, and game designers are still in the early stages of exploring the full possibilities of the medium.

How does a video game offer different storytelling potential than other mediums?
In a word: interactivity. Games are the only major medium where the audience can take an active role in shaping the story, and that’s the central focus of The Novelist. Many games sadly don’t allow the player to affect the story, which has always struck me as a missed opportunity, so when I got a chance to develop a game of my own I knew that I really wanted to tap into what was unique about our medium.

The possibilities are incredible when you embrace the fact that the audience can play a key role in the work itself and make it their own, especially now that games are finally taking on more mature, relatable subject matter. There’s nothing wrong with zombies or robots – there are books, movies, plays, and TV shows about those subjects, too – but for a long time games didn’t do much to move outside of that kind of genre work. The indie game movement has really changed that in the last 5 years, and I’m incredibly excited to see where the marriage of personal subject matter and an interactive medium can take us.

What type of role does Makeshift Society play in your work?

The main thing Makeshift does is keep me from losing my mind. For the first year of independent game development I worked out of my apartment. I’m married, so I’d of course see my wife every day and see my friends out and about, but sitting in a home office working without human contact day after day really started taking a toll on me. I started keeping open lines of communication with my friends via IM and video calls, but it was no replacement for actual human contact.

So I started looking for coworking spaces in order to get out of the house and be around other people three days a week, and I was immediately drawn to Makeshift because it was one of the few coworking spaces I found in San Francisco that wasn’t knee-deep in tech startup culture. I may work on a computer all day, but I don’t want to be surrounded by tech heads chasing venture capital deals. I really dug the DIY vibe of Makeshift and the super-diverse set of professions you learn about there.

Makeshift is my excuse to get out in this amazing city, be around people from completely different industries, and add a little structure (but not too much!) to my life as an independent developer.

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Member Spotlight- Soft Cities & Hardwood Maps

We are constantly amazed by our talented members and the things they create.

We’re also thrilled when members want to share their amazing products with their fellow members and the clubhouse-at-large.

In addition to our wonderful Soft Cities blanket (which if you haven’t done so needs your x marks the spot, members) we now have a Hardwood World Map by the front desk.

Here’s a little info about these amazing makers, and be sure to check out both items the next time you’re in the clubhouse.

Thank you tons Joel & Nikki!!

 

Joel Goyette of Hardwood Maps:

I fell in love with woodworking in the eighth grade, amazed at how beauty can be coaxed out of rough and raw lumber. Today I’m a proud member of the Bay Area maker movement and enjoy spending time creating new designs and improving my skills at places like the Makeshift Society and TechShop San Francisco.

My collection of exotic hardwood maps draws inspiration from my love of exploring faraway lands, languages and lifestyles. Ever since I began living abroad in high school (as an exchange student in Argentina, Brazil and Spain) I’ve always had a map on my wall to remind me of where I’ve been and where I’ve yet to go.

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Nikki Rodenbeck of Soft Cities:

Soft Cities is a textile company specializing in mapping your stories. Their custom designed maps feature your favorite location and up to three markers pointing out your most meaningful places: where you live, where your child was born, where you got married, or where she said yes, etc. Maps can be printed as a blanket on super soft, lightweight fleece or as a set of four napkins on beautiful Kona Cotton. Map styles are created in collaboration with award-winning Stamen Design and OpenStreetMap contributors. 5% of every sale goes toward the OpenStreetMap Foundation to keep map data free.

Each customer works directly with designer and owner, Nikki Gunn Rodenbeck and because each order is unique, that one-on-one experience with the customer is what drives her through the more challenging parts of running her own business like keeping the whole operation local to San Francisco, posting on Twitter (and Pinterest, and Facebook and her blog), and remembering to take out the trash. Started just three years ago as a way to keep her sanity while getting pregnant and raising a newborn, Nikki uses all of her past hats in marketing, media, and design to create map products that are beautiful, thoughtful, and fun.

 

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