San FranciscoNews

SFCC Forums 2017 Recap

Design for Empowerment

Posted on: April 28, 2017

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“Do you have a color that can stop violence?”

Try for a moment to imagine a little 9-year-old boy asking you that question. Imagine what that boy sees and deals with every day in the world he lives in. Imagine his struggles. Imagine his fears. Wouldn’t you want to find a way to help him? To give him every opportunity that you can for him to feel safe, to do his best, to learn, to grow, and to become somebody? That is the question that Laura Guido Clark was asked by a young student at E.C Reems Academy in Oakland, CA (the first project of Project Color Corps).

Last Thursday, the San Francisco City Center hosted a conversation around Design for Empowerment. We were lucky to have Laura Guido Clark from Project Color Corps, Kali Gordon from Youth Art Exchange, and Ryan Jang from Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects join David Meckley from Huntsman Architectural Group to discuss how they spark empowerment through design and the challenges that they face.

One thing that I found interesting in these panelists is that they all work in a facet of education and collectively represent students (clients) all the way from kindergarten through college. Their time investment varied from a few months to a few years, but every one of them showed passion and pride in creating spaces of beauty and function.  To “design beyond the property line” as Ryan mentioned when describing the impact buildings have not only on the users but the community as a whole.

Our design is our tool. It’s how we can make an impact- by designing spaces that allow people to become stronger and more independent. Cali challenged us to action: to build! To create with people, even if it’s building a fence with your neighbor. There is a real sense of pride, ownership, and kinship.

David Meckley did a wonderful job leading this discussion (thank you David!).  I would like to thank the California College of the Arts, who graciously hosted us for the evening. And a very warm appreciation goes out to Brittany Stinger, an Interior Designer at Huntsman and a member of the San Francisco City Center, who worked very hard in the months leading up to the event to put together such a fantastic panel of impressive design professionals. I would also like to thank our Event Sponsors: ALR and Todd Contract and our Chapter Patrons (listed below) who supported this event. We really cannot put on these events without the support from our sponsors.

And I leave you with my personal favorite quote of the night from Laura Guido Clark: “There is beauty in blind optimism.”  Now go make a difference in someone’s life and use your tool: Design!


– Lauri VanWert, SFCC


Thank you to our Chapter Patrons!

  • Mohawk
  • Allermuir / Senator
  • Coalesse
  • Designtex
  • One Workplace
  • Knoll
  • KBM – Hogue
  • Maven
  • Staples
  • Steelcase

Posted in: San FranciscoNews

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