design with company: character building design with company: character building
may 31, 2012

design with company: character building

‘character building’ by design with company, urbana, illinois all images courtesy of design with company ‘character story’




american firm design with company (stewart hicks + allison newmeyer) have developed ‘character building’ a series of material and figural investigations for the independent media center (IMC) in urbana, illinois. the grassroots organization, which was a previous post office, provides access for the community to various media outlets through its rentable spaces, performance stage, production tools and radio station. 


‘character buildings’ construct a new, physical identity for the institution within the shell of the former civic building using only minimal intervention into the existing structure. it achieves this through a series of kiosks and other objects that offer functions and features to the space. each object has a name that preserves their individuality while remaining a coherent cast: pinup pam (the community pinup board), red (the red entry doors), deskasaur (the receptionist desk), stampy (the books 2 prisoners drop box), disco (the button mural entrance portal), and talky (the talk-bubble signage). the characters are placeless yet create a persistent image for the foundation within this repurposed old property.


the project is a marriage between ideas cultivated in the academy, volunteer resources, and community needs to produce new and unexpected urban experiences. the IMC is dedicated to the democratization of media and the project embodies their ideals. the objects encourage people to engage with them as a means of activation. they were built with donated labor and take on life when filled in with activities and the remnants of human use. their forms (in the McLuhan sense) are further activated as people interpret and re-interpret their shapes. they encourage multiple associations and narratives, captivating audiences within their story.

IMC Pinup pam and disco entry doors

deskasaur reception desk in vestibule


pinup pam and deskasaur


video © design with company







designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions’  feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here




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