By Amy Silverman
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By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
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By Weston Phippen
Luckily for Justin Katz, this is precisely his specialty. — Katrina Montgomery
Lindsay Kinkade's studio, Little Giant, might be hard to find on a map. The 35-year-old designer claims the streets of downtown Phoenix as her true workspace; she is most often found riding her bicycle, gleaning inspiration from the real world. "Everything about the way that I'm building my practice is about being on the street, being in public life, being in the space where people bump into each other and where interactions both good and bad and messy and clean happen," she says.
122 E. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Category: Bars and Clubs
Region: Central Phoenix
Kinkade's desire to work in and with the public was influenced by an initial career in journalism. After spending seven years at the Boston Globe, she knew she wanted to get out of the office and back into the community space. But this time, she would do it as a designer.
"Most of my studio work is about creating a space to believe in possibility — to sketch what is possible, to imagine what is possible, to believe in the best possible future, and try to figure out how to make that happen," she says.
Attending graduate school at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) gave Kinkade the opportunity to construct a new path using design thinking to facilitate public engagement and community development. Designing interactions and inventing new economies is a big aspect of this type of work, she says. But it's necessary for a designer who wants to improve the public sphere.
The aptly named Little Giant focuses on doing small experiments and using the process to translate results to a larger scale. In a recent project with Phoenix Center for the Arts, Kinkade filled an entryway with pieces of brightly colored paper that read "We are the center of." Anyone passing by was invited to complete the statement and contribute to a what she calls a participatory visioning process. The exercise is small, but it helped kick off an identity redesign for the center that manifested in things like a website rehaul and a mural on the exterior of the building.
Though this type of work may seem somewhat intangible, the results can be very concrete. Kinkade taught a class on public policy and public engagement at RISD and has written a book on the subject. This is her passion, she says, and she can't imagine working in any other way.
Since moving to Phoenix a year and half ago for the increased sunlight and the larger population, Kinkade has been focused on reinventing what she calls the user experience of downtown. Projects like Welcome to Phoenix, a website she is working on with Jim McPherson, seek to reframe how people view the downtown experience. For Kinkade, it's all about increasing awareness of what is out there and constantly inviting people to get involved.
"If the thing we're creating is the best version of a city, we should be inviting all the people of the city into that process," she says.
There aren't too many designers around the Valley doing this type of work, Kinkade knows, but she isn't worried. "We can sit around and be grumpy about Phoenix forever," she says, "or we can see it as a place of constant invention." — Katrina Montgomery
Carlos Reyes takes a sip of his coffee and smiles. It's a big smile, a totally unguarded one. Dressed in shorts and a Superman T-shirt, he blends in nicely with the Saturday morning Roosevelt Row Jobot crowd, plugging away on laptops and browsing open textbooks. But it's a fair assumption that no one else in the room edits what many have described as "the Latin Pitchfork," and even safer to bet that no one in the room finds that particular comparison as funny as Reyes.
"When I started the blog, I didn't even know what Pitchfork was," the 25-year-old Reyes says with a laugh. "The blog" in question is Club Fonograma. Boasting the tagline "We Are Iberoamerican Pop," Club Fonograma represents the efforts of Reyes and 10 volunteers to focus on Latin American "pop," a wide reaching term, Reyes says, encompassing garage rock, electro, dance, reggaeton, funk, and whatever else excites Fonograma's contributors.
"I didn't see the approach to film criticism — with an emphasis on 'context,' — being applied to Latin Alternative music the way it was to Latin American film," he says. Inspired by reactions to Puerto Rican band Calle 13's album Los de Atrás Vienen Conmigo and his collection of Slant magazines, he began blogging, mostly for fun.
"I started doing it for myself and my friends," he says, noting that a gap existed in Latin Alternative coverage. As if to prove his point — that people want to read about exciting, adventurous music from Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other Latin American countries — the site quickly began attraction readers worldwide.
"I don't promote it," he laughs, "but people started getting interested."
He sounds like a future famous designer. I liked reading about him. Much luck and success to him in his future in design and hopefully I'll see his clothes in the best shops in the future.