1. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  2. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  3. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  4. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  5. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  6. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  7. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  8. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  9. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  10. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  11. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  12. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  13. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  14. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  15. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

  16. Click image to expand

    Photo credit: Elexa Henderson

of

Design Takes a Road Trip

Alison Carter
01 May 2019

Design nomads take a studio on the road to seek new perspectives through community engagement

During the brainstorming meetings that hatched the Food for Thought Truck (FFTT), one overall idea emerged: that the benefit design can bring to under-served communities is matched by the benefit under-served communities can bring to design.

From the beginning the project was conceived as a learning exercise. Moving outside the office, physically taking the office on the road, FFTT’s design team sought to step outside its comfort zones and expose its principles and processes to new scrutiny and new influences.

An often-repeated refrain during these planning sessions was, “We’re not going out as experts. We’re going out as students.”

An Idea, But Also a Truck O+A bought a van from a gelato entrepreneur and set about turning it into a design lab on wheels. While early sketches tended toward fanciful transformations, roofs popping up and walls popping of, spatial economy and versatility proved more important in the final design.

With a canopy that opens up and a platform that pulls down the truck has enough structural dexterity to support public presentations, while preserving an interior austerity that lends itself to lab work, and naps. 

For PARK(ing) Day 2018 in San Francisco the truck turned into a mobile mini-park complete with a carpet of real grass. At San Jose Farmer’s Market it worked with pop-up retailers on their storefronts and in Fremont with a local non-profit building a miniature golf course. In Bakersfield Food for Thought Truck coordinated and facilitated a week-long exercise envisioning a new neighborhood downtown. In Los Angeles it will join River LA to help raise awareness of the Los Angeles River. Every trip has been a voyage of discovery, every project a new lesson in design.

Fact Sheet

Project: Mobile design studio

Purpose: Spark creativity and give back to the community

O+A team Verda Alexander, Kristina Cho, Nikki Hall, Marbel Calderon, Paulina McFarland, Al McKee, Chase Lunt, George Craigmyle, Elizabeth Vereker, Liliana Lewika, Rachelle Meneses, Lisa Bieringer, Amy Young, Javier Gallardo, Samantha Calabrese, Alex Pokas, Lauren Harrison

Gross square footage 50 sf

Design guidelines Collaborative, flexible, casual, focus, creative

Project phase Strategy: November 2017 Design: February 2018 Roadtrip: November 2018

Sponsors Design within Reach, Chilewich, Vitra, Mash

Consultants Doyle Buddington – Upholstery Workroom & Mfg. Co.

Furniture dealer DWR Contract

Custom furniture MASH Studios, Ash Diper

Custom Millwork and Specialty finishes Phil Horton – PK Tool Inc., Doyle Buddington – Upholstery Workroom & Mfg. Co.

Custom Graphics Paulina McFarland – Studio O+A and Signage

Flooring Manufacturer Chilewich (flooring)

Software used Adobe: Photoshop, Illustrator, In-Design, Autodesk: AutoCAD, Revit

Photographer credit Lex & Ev - www.lexandev.com