”I’m here because I want to do work that is important to people in a real way. I want to solve real problems and connect to real needs. I believe the best way to change the world is to make something inspirational and have people react to it.”
Geospace, an established designer, is inspired to elevate design to highlight the issues of planet care and social justice. Having been a part of a homeless community in the past, he wanted to immerse himself in a local organization of homeless people, partnering with individuals there on design projects that fit their needs. Rackham funding through the Arts of Citizenship program allowed him to work with the homeless community here to break down some of the boundaries presented by the lack of transportation.
He considers this is a good way to test standard design practices and gain an understanding of what a specific group of people need. “Giving the homeless influence and hope is better than giving them a structure for housing and resources. I want to come to them as a peer and let them drive the process, giving them ownership.”
He designed a modular, insulated shelter after understanding some of the barriers and issues the homeless community faced. To test his shelter, he joined three homeless men sleeping under a bridge in the Ann Arbor area for three nights. “Their welcoming and honest encouraged me and I think they were encouraged by my interest in them and my concern for better times ahead.”
His work experiments with low energy vehicles and shelters, intentionally provoking reaction and thought based on a different set of assumptions. By creating unique vehicles like Firefly (pictured), he hopes to elbow into a new space and open roads to wider varieties of objects that provide opportunity and equal access. “I hope design can highlight issues facing the homeless community and open a dialogue around the connection between luxury and weakness instead of luxury and power.”
He came to U-M because the program here is so different than other MFAs. Here, he has the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary fashion and take classes in different fields and schools, particularly focusing on crossover space between Art & Design and Urban Planning.
Learn more about this research at the Geospace Studio website.