Agency Sets Up Its Office on the Sidewalk Once a Month to Soak Up the Real World

Studio Shelf takes it outside

Way to gain some street cred!

South African design firm Studio Shelf has been taking its laptops and a few pieces of colorful furniture outdoors and setting up shop one day a month in public spaces around Cape Town as a means of "testing the immediacy of design and seeing what the collaboration between designers, communities and businesses has to offer." During these forays, members of the four-person collective share their views on the business with passersby, evaluate portfolios dropped off by local talent and even take occasional requests for on-the-spot logo designs.

I told my boss we should try something similar, and he gave me a wooden stool and an iPad to take into the alley behind AdFreak HQ. The idea seemed like a breath of fresh air, but the reeking dumpsters and pigeon attacks may quickly curtail this particular project's shelf life.


UPDATE: Shelf co-director Lourina Botha tells AdFreak that the project is designed "to gauge the role of design in the lives of people in Cape Town. Do people understand what design can do? Do they care? Is design something they should care about? Are we designing for people or just other designers? It's a very reflective process." She adds, "As with science, research is done through experiments that often fail. So yes, we've sat in the sun for days with not a single person engaging, there's been rain, we've been shouted and laughed at. … We've also heard epic life stories and gained valuable insights about our own streets."

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.