Friday Five With Alice Grandoit

With a practice centered around developing engaging community platforms, cultural researcher and designer Alice Grandoit works at the intersections of community engagement, education and urbanism. Over the past 12 years, she’s worked with organizations to build awareness through strategic community partnerships, then reinforced these relationships through the creation and execution of memorable, physical touchpoints that serve as sites of mutual inspiration and exchange. Alice is the co-founder of Room for Magic, a collaborative design studio that works to bridge brands and communities, and Deem Journal, a new bi-annual print publication focused on design as a social practice.

Room for Magic is a collaborative design studio that works to bridge brands and communities to ensure the needs of all parties are prioritized, while conceptualizing and developing brand strategy, marketing and programming. It’s through this work that Deem Journal was created as a publication that uses dialogue as a tool to inspire and welcome diverse participants and contributors into the world of solution-based thinking. “Through my practice as researcher and designer I draw inspiration from people, their stories, creative creativity and places. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to integrate these inspirational topics, themes and people into my work,” she shared. Today Alice joins us for Friday Five!

Photo: Bradley Braden

1. The ClubCasa
I am forever grateful to this Victorian era home in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. This house functioned both as a living space and hub for creatives in New York and artists across the visual arts, music, design, education and more from 2010 through 2018. It’s where I was first introduced to and practiced co-living, known as an intentional community, in which the residents share housing and living facilities and join together over a common set of values. Co-Living has been a movement since the beginning of time, I’m sure, and I personally feel it is now, and eventually will become, even more urgent as we address a societal shift towards loneliness and disconnection. I’m sure this is something we have even witnessed now in the time of a pandemic. I also whole-heartedly believe that learning to coexist with others is one of life’s greatest teachers.

Photo: Alice Grandoit

2. Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown
This book has been a guiding light through many a transition, but also served as the foundational text for my recent project – Deem Journal. Adrienne’s concept of emergence provides a framework for how we can adapt to our complex and ever shifting worlds. Her writing is so personable, and she shares so much of herself and personal experiences while weaving in cultural references and lessons from another dear inspiration, the late science fiction writer Octavia Butler. I love picking this book up again and again and discovering new ways of seeing by sitting with the words regularly.

Photo: Alice Grandoit

3. Hyper Local Food
Growing up in the New York metro area, I never considered the relationship to my food source. A good friend and urban farmer, Erik Grosyk, introduced me to hydroponic farming through an urban farmers residency he participated in at a vertical hydroponic farm in Brooklyn. For over a year I had the privilege of eating food grown exclusively by my dear friend whom I could visit at his farm weekly to get an update and live report of how the farm was doing, inclusive of playlist updates for the baby crops. This prompted me to make a commitment to establishing an intimate relationship with my food by any means: visiting farms, attending farmer’s markets, making connections with farmers and truly understanding the flavor profiles of some of my favorite fruits and veggies when they are harvested and fresh. My life and kitchen will never be the same.

Photo courtesy The Underground Museum

4. The Underground Museum
This is one of my absolute favorite places in Los Angeles, a city I lived in for some time and developed a tender relationship with. Founded by artists Karon and Noah Davis, with the goal of bringing “museum quality art” to the working class neighborhood of Arlington Heights. To me, the Underground Museum feels more like home and less like a traditionally sterile museum, likely due to the powerful sense of community that is experienced and felt in the space. The programming is also a means by which to bring together creatives from different parts of the city, among my favorites being the Purple Garden Cinema series curated by Khalil Joseph and hosted every summer Friday in their famed Purple Garden to weekly yoga classes. The UM also has one of the best bookshops in all of Los Angeles. The Underground Museum is located on Washington Blvd, if you drive by quickly, you could miss it.

5. Color(ed) Theory by Amanda Williams
Amanda Williams is an artist and architect who uses color as a way to draw attention to the political complexities of race, place and value in cities. Amanda’s work put the term social practice into beautiful context for me through her project, Color(ed) Theory, an art project where she “took theory to the streets” and painted soon to be demolished houses in Englewood, Chicago. The project reflects both her racialized and theoretical understanding of color within a relational context. To quote her, “Who needs teal when you have Ultra Sheen.”

Kelly Beall is Director of Branded Content at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based writer and designer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, from Fashion Plates to MoMA and far beyond. When not searching out the visual arts, she's likely sharing her favorite finds with others. Kelly can also be found tracking down new music, teaching herself to play the ukulele, or on the couch with her three pets – Bebe, Rainey, and Remy. Find her @designcrush on social.