Welcome to the Alternative Design podcast, where we empower creatives to rethink space and how it's designed by inviting unlikely perspectives to the conversation. Whether we're exploring living probiotics for buildings or planning the first city to be constructed on Mars, we believe there is innovation to be found in the margins. Join us as we go deeper than the mainstream conversations and find an "alternative" way to design for a better human experience.
What if we are missing a transformational opportunity to rethink the experience of space by only “checking the boxes” on accessibility standards? In Episode 12, we take a deep dive into the etymology of “normal” and discuss how this term has propped up power structures that have continued to limit how marginalized bodies experience space. Tune in as we discuss how the built environment can go “beyond access” to embrace equity and support differences. Our guests are AJ Paron, SANDOW Design Group Executive President and Design Futurist; Joshua A. Halstead, ArtCenter College of Design and Designmatters Teacher and Design Activist; Matt May, Head of Inclusive Design for Adobe.
Link to Joshua's book
Give the Buildings Carbon
What if the answer to reclaiming our atmosphere lies in using more concrete? Specifically, the kind of concrete that can mineralize billions of tons of carbon and store it permanently in the built environment?
In this episode we're featuring the COO of the Foundation for Climate Restoration and eco-anxiety expert, Dr. Erica Dodds. We also speak to the CEO of Blue Planet Systems, Dr. Brent Constantz, and dDirector of Mineralized CO2 Commercialization, Dougal Heap.
Vessels of Light
As designers, we prescribe colors in the built environment to promote positive human outcomes. We know humans are deeply sensitive to the energy of color, but what you may not know is that your unique perception of color is dictated by much more than your eyes. What if personalized color therapy experiences could influence our body, mind, and emotions in a profound way? A promising solution to creating personal experiences in a shared space is the Metaverse, and we are going to explore what lies at the intersection of color, humans, and technology. Our guest is Ari Peralta, Founding Partner at Arigami, an internationally recognized playground dedicated to sensory transformation, and Partner at Mycoocoon, a leading color therapy software company. Together, we underscore the need for emotional balance tools in every space, both digital and physical, and how color could be used as a catalyst for personal transformation.
Actions That Open the Heart
In Episode 9, we explore an architectural experiment in the middle of the Nevada desert known as Black Rock City. Every summer, Burning Man Project hosts a temporary city that draws thousands of people to celebrate the ceremonial burning of a human effigy known as “the Man”. Attendees are invited to test their limits, embrace a spirit of gifting, and radically express themselves in Black Rock City for nine days. Many designers and urban planners see the city as a potential blueprint for local communities as it boasts an iterative design process that could address some of the greatest challenges of our time. We talk to Burning Man's Associate Director of Community Events, Steven Raspa, and City Planning and Placement Manager, Bryant Tan to explore what Burning Man has to offer the design community concerning innovation, radical participation, and risk taking.
To check out the 10 Principles of Burning Man look at https://burningman.org/about/10-principles/
To explore the design entries for Fly Ranch check out
Get Out of Jail with Freedom
In the workplace strategy world, we often design for the “power of choice”. Employees can choose how, when, and where they work in order to support productivity and wellness. But, is it only employees who deserve the “power of choice”? Who should have the right to choose? The answer may surprise you!
In this Season Finale Episode of the podcast, we explore a preventative, a restorative, and a deconstructive alternative in the current design and construction of carceral facilities. We discuss if providing choices to inmates could positively impact behavior and usher in a more restorative justice model. Our guests include a Sheriff, professor, student, and a former inmate – each of which bring a very unique perspective on the subject. Tune in as we roll up our sleeves to discuss the power of design to bring justice and equity for all.
Interview with Sheriff Hall
Vox video on Halden Prison
Pop-Ups to Breakdown Stigmas
As our U.S. Olympian, Simone Biles, reminded us during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, we must prioritize the fitness of our minds and our emotions. Much like the "spikes" in viral cases during the pandemic, we are now encountering a "spike" of those who are struggling with mental illness and require treatment. The numbers are staggering, and some predict a wave of patients that our already taxed healthcare system will struggle to accommodate.
What we need is an alternative solution that rethinks what short-term and long-term treatment could look like. We also need a solution that breaks down stigmas traditionally associated with this type of care. In this episode we chat with University of Toronto students Bronte Morris-Poolman and Damian Kercz about how their Senior thesis project Art x Pop-Up could be the exact solution we need. Their idea is to design "crisis stabilization units" that are strategically placed in communities to provide critical mental health services. We also speak to Stacey Root and Stephanie Vito from Cannon Design on how to design for mental health spaces, the history of mental health stigma, and the future of "Wellness Campuses" that combine care and amenities for a more equitable experience for all.
Loved every episode to date!
Very interesting perspectives
Thought provoking and fun
This is not the typical content and perspective. Take a listen, you’ll love it. I do.
Amazing topics and storytelling. Product quality is great. I leave each episode inspired and curious about the subject matter in the episode.