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Teens Design For Teens!

The Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design (TLAD) houses Project Open Door (POD) an innovative college access program for artistically inclined teens attending Rhode Island's urban core public high schools. The hub of POD's activity is 355 South Water Street, a storefront facing the Providence River. In response to a RFP (request for proposal) from DownCity Design (DCD). POD submitted a proposal for outdoor seating for its studio and much to our delight we were invited to DCD, along with a number of our teens, to describe our request more fully and to answer questions.

We were delighted when POD's project was selected by the DCD teens as one for which they would provide designs and complete the build. The young designers then visited POD's studio, took measurements and asked numerous questions from POD staff and teens to get a real sense of what we really would like to see built. After this site visit, the DCD teens then set about developing a number of design concepts and when completed we were invited to return to DCD to review a number of proposals and provide feedback. We are struck by the professionalism of the teens as they presented various ideas of what they envisioned in the space and we wondered how they would eventually narrow their choices to a final design.

The final designs arrived a couple of days ago and were were amazed at just how well the young DCD designers had interpreted our wish list for a space that would appear to be an extension of the POD studio and that the furniture would activate and engage the space outside the studio. We were delighted to see that the final design incorporated elements drawn from a number of the DCD designer's initial proposals. We just loved the elegance of the design, the incorporation of planters and the inclusion of 6 stools that can be rolled out from beneath a low coffee table/bench and be returned there after use.

The furniture is tentatively scheduled to be installed on August 11th with a community celebration on Friday, August 12th. This is an exciting project on a number of levels but most importantly because it's an example of one group of urban teens designing for another group of urban teens and not just presenting conceptual ideas but translating those ideas into a build project. Project Open Door and RISD's Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design (TLAD) is truly delighted and indeed honored that DownCity Design selected its studio as a 2016 design/build project. TLAD is also especially proud of the fact that DCD's co-founder and Executive Director Adrienne Gagon is an MA '08 alumna as is its Program Director Melita Morales MA '14.

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