Interior Design, Speech Bubble Exercise

How are we designers? What everyday activities involve active design?

Tuesday’s class begins with examining simple ways we all make design decisions. The first decision many people make in the morning is how to dress themselves. We examine ordinary clothing: shirts, socks, shoes, pants, jacket, sweatshirt, backpack, phone case, watch, glasses, lunch box, hair, nails, headphones, rings, necklace, bracelets.

Through this class discussion the students share their own design tendencies: Phoenix wears a plaid buttoned shirt almost everyday. Esu wears back and white athletic shorts and shoes (usually two main colors, garments are monotone, not too bright)

Now the students focus on the design decisions they will need to make to successfully transform the Teen Room! The students identify the needs of the room, what works successfully already, and what items are needed to create an improved environment.

Speech bubble exercise

  • Go around the room and put sticky notes up of different things you would like to see in the space. This includes feelings, colors, new objects, and removing or repositioning current objects.
  • This is a brainstorm! No idea is bad.

Student’s Speech Bubbles:

West Wall: Gets Darts, Can the wall carpet be lighter? Do we need a table? Pool Table, a new image, shelving?

East Wall: Pool Table (center of room), Music System Speaker!, new color, Black board chalk wall, chin up bar, mini-basketball hoop? 2?

South TV Wall: This corner is dark! can we add a light?, Should this be hung (football poster frame)?, Comforter Chairs?, We need storage for this stuff!, move benches, new couch, cool paint on low ceiling, New colored rugs, X box,  can we fix this cabinet? Get rid of broken TV, Do we need this TV? Keep TV, Karaoke Machine, Patterns, This Corner is dark can we add light?, More Comfortable benches/sofa? New Couch, Repaint benches?,

Closet Wall: Is the storage necessary?, Can we repurpose this (closet area)?, Color on top ledge?


There were lots of great ideas expressed in this exercise!  The main objective was achieved of student’s expressing themselves with any and all of their great ideas.

Where can we go from here?


Field Trip: Seattle Architecture Foundation workshop (SAF)

The team arrives early this morning at Bitter Lake Community Center. Melissa and Ximena (Melissa’s 8 year old sister) are sitting on the couches of the teen room. Without much wait, Phoenix, Kamiya, Gwen, and Noah arrive. Gwen and Noah are leading the field trip today. No need to set up the teen room. We are heading to the city center for an esteemed workshop with the Seattle Architecture Foundation.

We arrive downtown at the SRG Partnership office before 11am. The team all fits in one elevator and we elevate to Suite 300. A sleek but cluttered aesthetic, alike many architecture firms, presents itself to us. Marquesa Figueroa greets us and we begin our tour through the space. It is still early in the morning (for Saturday) and no one knows each other yet. Our class is a little reserved. Marquesa does a great job of showing us models, drawing, materials, and textures. We arrive in a conference room with a very large table in the center. Another table along the window holds all the craft materials: Glue guns, pipe cleaners, bubble wrap, buckets, balsa wood, card board, cork, packaging supplies, the list goes on.

Climate Change is addressed! Marquesa explains the need of floating residences to compensate with rising sea levels. We begin our main assignment: Build a model of a residential dwelling that floats on water. We have about 2 and a half hours to design (including a pizza break). The pressure is on.

Kamiya and Phoenix ask if they can work together. The workshop requires each student to create their own model. They decide to build separate structures but use a sky bridge to connect their models together. Phoenix decorates a Party Pale Ice Cream Bucket with many bottle caps, card board cut outs, and a pink plastic film. Their boat is built to host parties! Kamiya builds an awesome tower that some say resembles a floating lighthouse. What views one could see if the project were to be realized.

Melissa uses styrofoam, balsa wood, plastic sheets, and cork to build a box like dwelling. Ximena ambitiously builds another tower like structure. They placed tapped off red Solo Cups at the bottom of the tower to be used for floatation.

Melissa and Phoenix float their boats in the large water pale provided. Both models float flawlessly. Kamiya and Ximena have trouble stabilizing their tall structures on top of the water. Both designs need more work. Without too much revisions, both students succeed in floating their designs! We left with a feeling of satisfaction from our success and from pizza.

Thank you! Your all were awesome. The workshop was awesome.

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Emotions Through Color

Thursday’s class started with the journal prompt: If you could paint the walls of your bedroom any way you wanted, how would you paint them and why? Many Students enjoy blue. Kamiya expresses her interest in sky blue and pink working together. To further explore the importance of color, Saptreet leads a powerpoint explaining color theory, emotional connections to color, and interior design examples expressing mood. Next we begin the emotion through color exercise.

Step 1: Get a word (that is a mood), keep it secret,                                                                          Step 2: Express this mood through simple shapes and color. (Abstract ONLY, no representations or figures).
Step 3: Display the “emotion” abstract art

The class cuts color details out of design magazines and art catalogs. The students use markers, pastels, and glued collage papers. The students present their art!

Esu chooses to express the emotion “happy.” Esu has difficulties with the instructions and uses representational images from the magazines. Within the last 15 minutes, Esu regroups and pulls together an bright and vibrant abstract collage. Color cutouts from cartoons are utilized in curvy and squiggle patterns weaving through, off, and back onto the paper’s boarder.

Melissa chooses to express broken/sad. Out of an art magazine, Melissa finds a variety of deep marine and gray blues. She cuts the colors into many small triangles scattering them across her paper. They are secured with the glue stick. Some of Melissa’s shapes roughly resemble rain/tear/water drops. Because triangles and water drop shapes are ambiguous, the design remains abstract.

Phoenix slightly bends the abstract rules of the project by using some branches and birds. Using a diagonal line and collage pieces, their design expresses movement from the bottom left of the horizontal page to the top right. The orientation of this movement is important. Sadness is present in the piece but also a ephemeral beauty. Phoenix expresses hope

Kamiya’s design roughy resembles the center of an atom or energy with pastel colors and shapes dissipating around the nucleus. Their is wild movement within the piece. The design uses a few arrow symbols jogging this way and that. Kamiya expresses happy and excited.

Each individual project is powerful and beautiful. The Students enjoy the project and are looking forward to establishing the new colors and emotions of the Teen Room!


Field Trip to SAM! Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series

Kamiya, Phoenix, Satpreet, Gwen, and Noah enter the SAM’s lobby and admire the new installation hanging from the ceiling. Amazing!

“John Grade’s large-scale sculpture, Middle Fork, echoes the contours of a 140-year-old western hemlock tree located in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle.”

The group has tickets provided at reception. We check bags and head up to the 2nd floor. The Migration exhibit is comprised of one room. Each painting is numbered and sequenced in clockwise order around the room. There is a full line of spectators that we join in sequence. Satpreet provides commentary about color, emotions, ideas, and history. These are important things to think about when viewing the craft of Jacob Lawrence. After leaving the exhibit we discuss migration, racism, agriculture, economics, and the events that inspired Lawrence’s work.

“Acclaimed as Lawrence’s masterwork, this epic series chronicles in words and pictures the exodus of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North in the decades after the First World War.”

Next we wander through the many galleries and exhibits within the SAM. “Mann Und Maus” by Katharina Fritsch displays a striking sculpture of a giant mouse standing on the comforter of a person in bed. The sculpture is in the middle of a large room and quickly draws Kamiya and Phoenix’s attention. They are curious and unsure of the intended meaning. I am unsure myself. There is a common understanding within the group of the entertainment value involved in the piece.

On we wander on through the Pacific Currents, Jennifer West, Views From Venice, African Renaissances, and Big Picture exhibits. Kamiya and Phoenix quietly continue to view each display, installation, and painting with curiosity. We take a break and sit for a while. Phoenix tells me about their interest in drawings, creative video games, and expressive outfits they put together with their brother.

Upon preparing to leave, Lindsay (one of our programmers and an employee of SAM) meets us in the lobby and takes our group photo beneath the John Grade sculpture. We drive back to our home at the Bitter Lake Community Center. In transport through the cityscape, passing murals, sculptures, buildings, and parks, Kamiya expresses her interests in art and design. We are so excited to have such engaged students involved in the DYH program.



Bitter Lake Design Your Neighborhood Begins!

During the first week of February, 2017, Design Your Neighborhood kicks back into gear with another three month creative program. The program is excited to announce it’s new location headquarters at Bitter Lake Community Center. Leading the program we have returning teaching artist Satpreet Kahlon. Gwen Wessels is our returning Seattle Parks and Rec. organizer.

Design Your Hood draws its power from the students involved. This program includes students from multiple schools in the area between 8th and 10th grade. Although few of the students were previously acquainted, many have been utilizing Bitter Lakes Community Center for many years. The class curriculum focuses on exploring the community and greater Seattle area, understanding the student’s ambitions as artists and designers, fostering the skills necessary to make a lasting impact, and transforming the Community Center’s “teen room” into a space for students to grow.


SPOKES Youth Leadership Program

Hey all! SPOKES Youth Leadership Program is back again and looking for new applicants for 2017. Take a look at the description and application below!

Youth Speaks Description and Application.pdf

Calling all Youth POETS & ARTISTS! We’re looking for fierce young artists (aged 13-19) who want to create change through community organizing, performance events and artistry! This is a 7-month PAID commitment to being a leader and organizer for the Arts Corps Teen Leadership Program. Internship is from October 25th – May 2nd. Leaders will meet every Tuesday from 4-6pm at Youngstown in West Seattle…Get PAID to organize and create art!


More info & paper application here:


Curtain Call

Over the last four weeks, 16 students dedicated their summer to revamping the Multi-Purpose Studio inside and out. At our celebration on Friday, after brief opening remarks from SAM’s Sarah Bloom and an introduction to Design Your Neighborhood from this summer’s teaching artists, Satpreet Kahlon & Erik Turnberg, the teens toured their friends and families through the space and then we wrapped up with presentations of the student’s takeaways.

And  now that we’ve all had a chance to catch our breath again, it is my pleasure to introduce to you the new and improved MPS. 

Below are the before and after pictures. Please put up your tables, keep all hands inside and hold all “Wow’s” until the end.


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WOW. right? The MPS is unrecognizable. They’ve turned a space that looked more like a gym room 4 weeks ago into one that really not only looks, but feels like a black box theater. The teens are all so proud of the work they did, and they put in a lot of hours of hard labor with no complaints. They have been dedicated and invested into this project. They strove to beautify a space in their school and there was nothing that could stop them. For that, we are excited to announce that the rest of our money will go to creating a plaque with all of the participants names and the work that they did at AAA that will hang in the entryway. Below is the template of what will hang outside the MPS.


A special thanks to our friends during this time: On the Boards, the Vera Project, Jehan Osanyin, Chris Landigin, SAM staff & interns, and of course the wonderful teens of AAA. Congrats, again!

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