1. From… to…

2. Lost in translation

3. Traveling while standing still

4. Looking in to look out

5. Looking out to look in

6. Like AirBnb, but for x

7. Like Uber, but for x

8. Time travel

9. Traveling while standing still

10. Everything but the x

11. Walking the talk

12. Talking the walk

13. Hidden in plain sight

14. Imagined but not lived

15. Heard but not spoken

16. A tale of two cities

17. The same but different

18. Different yet the same

19. Everyone is a designer

20. Culture as the original technology

21. “Smart”…


It is December 10th, 2032.

You open your eyes. Your first breath takes in the comforting fragrance of freshly-baked baguettes.

That reminds you. You’re in your local hospital. You reach up to tap the right side of your face, where the curb met your eyebrow in the hectic cycling-dominated promenades of midtown. Your face is still numb and you return your attention to your nose. The smell makes you suddenly nostalgic for 2020 when everyone around you was baking bread, staying home, endless Zoom. COVID times. It feels like a dream.

While hospitals in Singapore have intentionally piped the smell…


My son, Rui, on a play date in Zoom (2020)

Artist and educator, Kay Liang, talks about squashing “Zoom Gloom” with dog bands, friendly robbers, and disco breaks

It was April 6th and my six-year-old son, Rui, had his first Zoom meeting. He was both anxious and annoyed that he had to do something he neither fully understood nor signed up for. These were the early days of lockdown and as a parent, I was pretty desperate for ways he could stay engaged with his friends and teachers (and also give me time to answer emails, eat a sandwich, and cry in the shower all at the same time). One…


Photo: Matthew LeJune

An interview with Tara Pham, Co-founder & CEO of Numina

Cities are products of design. In the last century, the urban planning and design fields often prioritized the mobility of cars over people, and efficiency over community (think: Robert Moses and the post-war demolition of New York City neighborhoods in favor of highways). To address this legacy of a top-down gaze and framework, we need street-level, people-centered perspectives that inform how our cities are designed. This is where human-centered design, equity design, and ethical technologies can be harnessed to champion urbanism in service of people — not cars, politicians, or…


A snapshot from the first day of the studio, where students explored different areas of San José in small groups. One team was delighted to discover a wall around the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design that doubled as public seating to the neighborhood. (Left to right: Ana Acevedo, Diana Pang, and Majo Tamayo; Photo: Sammy Creeger)

A reflection on leading a remote design studio for the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) in Costa Rica

How can we continue to study our streets, talk to people, and test prototypes during a public health crisis? How can we identify opportunities to design for more inclusion, equity, and even joy in the everyday life of our cities? And how can we share these new research and design methods with others?

Last month, the Openbox design team had the opportunity to lead a one-week studio course for CIID’s Interaction Design Programme in San José, Costa Rica. It coincided with…


In the Studio with Vinay Kumar Mysore, Design Researcher at Openbox

Understanding the lived experiences of communities is central to Openbox’s process. Community research in D.C. ranged from the experience of erasure in gentrifying neighborhoods to the desire to ground action and activism in the everyday.

How do we design together from a distance? As a human-centered design studio, this was our big question as the coronavirus became a global reality and we quickly transitioned our operations from a collaborative workspace to our individual homes. Our first response was to simply swap in-person interactions with digital ones. But as we continue to grow into our life apart, we realized that as designers we have an opportunity to work with physical distancing constraints to explore potentially even more inclusive, engaging, and impactful ways of co-designing with…


Left: Mask for a “Ko-omote” character in Noh theater. My son and I started researching and making traditional Japanese masks. We recommend this TV documentary as good places to start: Begin Japanology’s episode on masks.

My friends and students ask me: Are you okay? How is your son dealing with all this? How are you holding up? It’s been six weeks since we’ve been staying home and I think: Yes, we are okay. There are times at the end of a long day of playing, making art, baking bread, and doing the things that fortunate families like us are doing that I weep. I am exhausted and like everyone else, have no answers on how or when things will change. As parents, we are never processing emotions for one, but for two or more. We…


Wooden spoons and metal bottles ready for collective clanging at 7pm to celebrate frontline workers (Image: New York City, 2020).

An interview with Jon Bernstein, Los Angeles-based composer, producer, and musician on how our senses are adapting to the shifting soundscapes.

Stretches of quiet pierced by blazing sirens. The two-minute outburst of pots and pans banging at dusk. Apartment hallways filled with the smell of baking bread and simmering stews. With the Coronavirus pandemic slowing and stopping cities around the world, as a human-centered design studio, we at Openbox have been reflecting on how our senses are adapting to quieter, interior-oriented lives. We’re also exploring how we can continue to engage our senses (beyond eyes glued to screens in video…


Home and hopeful.
  1. I take a deep breath: I want to give this breath to everyone running out of air.
  2. I look out at other apartment windows: I see you, I love you, we’re here together, we’re not alone.
  3. I sift through my sock drawer: I can’t believe I would be annoyed when one disappeared in the laundry. I would give away all my socks along with everything I own to give everyone health and safety.
  4. I hear my son’s question of when he can go back to school: I think, for many people, there is a pandemic every day and it never…


Although most of us are home and apart, we can still fill our days with projects to connect and help our world.

This is an intense moment for us all. Every day, we’re taking in new information, figuring out how to adapt to new constraints, and learning new ways to manage our own fears while supporting those around us. And at the same time, we need to consider how we might apply these difficult experiences to carve out a better long-term future for everyone. …

Adriana Valdez Young

Urbanist, mixed methods researcher, teacher, mother. Currently urban design lead at @openboxNYC and faculty at SVA and Parsons School of Design.

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