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Championing the future of design for all.

September 3–1 2014
Past Event
September 3–1 2014


September 3–1 2014


DESIGN/RELIEF is a participatory design initiative to help three New York City neighborhoods—Red Hook, the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan—imagine a more vibrant future for themselves as they overcome the lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy. DESIGN/RELIEF aims to demonstrate design’s role in creative placemaking, to help these neighborhoods be more livable, walkable, vibrant and enjoyable.

With DESIGN/RELIEF our goal is to:
1. Engage the communities
2. Inspire and accelerate positive change
3. Act as a catalyst for imagination of better places

We believe DESIGN/RELIEF can help because:
1. Design is a process that can be used to tackle local challenges in need of local solutions
2. Design is a communication-driven, federating force
3. Designers are skilled at piloting projects, taking risks, challenging the ways in which things are done

To serve a diverse audience of:
1. Three designated waterfront communities of Red Hook, the Rockaways and South Street Seaport (including residents, neighbors, workers, small business owners and visitors) invested in rejuvenating their neighborhoods.
2. The general public
3. The New York design community.

Our DESIGN/RELIEF service is to:
1. Offer our willingness to investigate existing and future assets and help a neighborhood reinvent itself through design
2. Use the most appropriate design (whatever the medium) to tackle a particular need of a designated neighborhood devastated by Superstorm Sandy
3. Demonstrate the value of design by doing

DESIGN/RELIEF can benefit:
1. People who seek a sense of place, confidence after trauma, pride, happiness, security. Design/Relief can offer a way forward, vitality, higher media exposure and increased potential for future funding and partnerships
2. Designers who want to be inspired and work on local, meaningful issues, who want to be more impactful, more connected to their cities and find the appropriate framework to expand the definition of their practices

Unlike other endeavors, such as:
1. Architecture, urban planning, policy making initiatives who tend to work within the parameters and realities of a given system
2. Singular endeavors (e.g. artists, architects), or market-driven forces (such as real estate developers)
3. Top-down, longer-term, government-led decisions that are typically not taking into account the diversity of interests in a community

DESIGN/RELIEF provides unparalleled value in:
1. Providing fun, timely, “lighter, quicker, cheaper”, tangible deliverables, that are easily deployable
2. Leveraging designers’ ability to connect the dots, build relationships, make things visible
3. Creating authentic markers, physical or time-based, temporary or permanent, that will declare a change in the perception people experience of each of these three neighborhoods

Please send all DESIGN/RELIEF inquiries to Laetitia Wolff, Program Director at

To learn more, read our latest updates:
July 2013
August 2013
October 2013