An incredible collaboration with Invision App

Invision | Brick X Brick

This is an exciting time at Brick X Brick. One of the best parts about the design community is their willingness to share, to open the doors on process and collaboration. When starting Brick X Brick, I had a simple idea. That we can make a valuable impact in our community to help the community in locales affected by blight by leveraging design thinking. Dave Mason once said to me back as a student of design during a visit to Multiple in Chicago, "Design is moving something from it's current state to it's desired state." and I agreed. His phrasing was spot on for my view of design. I was also guided by words from Rick Valicenti during a trip to Thirst. He said "Design is always one to one. A million eyes can be seeing the work, but the communication is always a one to one communication. One mind. So, you have them, what are you going to say to them?" I had again found a voice with whom I could agree. A designer that articulated my feelings succinctly.

Looking around my city, I saw a current state, and a desired state. There is a large wealth cycle taking place that seems to skip the residents sometimes. Grants and funding come into the equation and do great work for the neighborhoods by removing properties that are dangerous for a myriad of reasons. Often, the value of nearby land goes up thanks to this clearing. However, often in these locations residents are renters, and landlords frequently live far from the site. Landlords benefit from this improvement, but members of the community are conspicuously absent from this cycle of value, until of course an area is so improved that they cannot afford to stay. 

To me, for what it's worth, the desired state addresses the challenges of an area impacted by blight which stems from a legacy of lending challenges, racism, malfeasance, and a host of issues whose latent impact is a failed section of a city. Employment, safety, and city services all suffer in these areas. How can we empower the residents in these areas to better establish themselves in the area, to prosper as the area improves, so that they can take part in the growth and resurgence?

This is how Brick X Brick was formed. Some work simply needs doing. That we can use design thinking, and the act of designing itself, to enact this mission is an incredible experience.

I've been contacted by myriad businesses to work on this project together, but often in a purely commercial capacity. They love the objects, and want to purchase them for display in places like hotels. I struggle to hold the line and make the right decisions on who to partner with for this project, because the impact is always valuable, but to me, it's also emotional. And I have to guard the line of that mission closely, making sure that we are always honoring the spirit of collaboration and empowerment along with the donations flooding in. As such, I often have to decline. Until now.

Invision App came to me like a lightning bolt via email. They loved the work, and the mission, and I replied in kind. I use their platform everyday as a UX designer. I've designed mockups and web prototypes to showcase the potential for sites and ideas to clients frequently. I closely track the growth of Invision, including hinted at features such as their motion designing additions, and also the roll out of their plugin craft.

Invision has a company motto, "Design Makes Everything Possible." I believe design is a front line change agent. It is the process and thinking tool to move something from it's current state to it's desired state. In responding to Invision, I hid nothing. I told them of the pitfalls, the challenges, the difficult and organic process of engaging the city, community, state, and other organizations to mobilize a large edition. I laid it all bare and told my contact that if what I've said excited them rather than terrified them, that we were about to embark on a powerful project together.

And here we are today.

Invision is working closely with me as we develop a custom edition of Brick X Brick with a community donation tied to the project. We've used the Invision platform exclusively to collaborate, sharing artwork, ideas, and passing back and forth designs. As we iterate on designs, in the background I've personally set up shop at another incredible resource in town, a makerspace by the name of Big Fab Lab. Together with this vision, the onsite tools of the makerspace, and Invision App as a platform, our large scale run is taking form.

I'll be working to publish as much behind the scenes material as I can while we source raw brick from blight property and demolished housing in our city. The end result of this collaboration will be a hugely beneficial donation back to the community focusing on facilitating design thinking to empower residents to identify, troubleshoot, and propose solutions to problems on their own terms.

So, it is with much excitement that we begin this great adventure together to make another dent in the universe. Time to get grindin. More to come.


Brick X Brick

chris hatfield