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On an otherwise ordinary Sunday in June an amazing transformation took place in the three blocks surrounding Orchard Street on New York City’s Lower East Side. DayLife, an environmental design project resulting from a collaboration between DesigNYC, DUB-studios and the Lower East Side Business Improvement District (LES BID) in cooperation with students from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Impact! Design for Social Change program turned the neighborhood known variously for its rich history as an immigrant neighborhood and artist enclave, into an “urban backyard.”

On June 3, gritty city sidewalks covered with AstroTurf unrolled from “modern-day pushcarts” created especially for the project set the scene for a daylong festival of vendors and entertainment, complete with ping-pong tables and skateboarding ramp.

DayLife.jpg©2012 DUB Studios

The multifunctional pushcarts designed and hand built by DUB-studios Michael Piper with the aid of one of his architecture students from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, were part of an effort to attract foot traffic and counter perceptions of the Lower East Side as a night life only destination, and referenced the neighborhood’s unique history while also acting as storage and retail space. Commenting via e-mail, Piper shared this video and description, “More than just a stall to sell products or food, the ‘reinvented’ push cart stores, delivers and unpacks amenities for public play and recreation… The pushcart is storage and delivery device, that is designed to save space when packed up and spread out when unpacked.”

DayLife3.jpg©2012 DUB Studios

Laetitia Wolff, Executive Director, DesigNYC spoke with me about how the idea for DayLife came about, describing how the seeds of the concept came out of work done last summer in Mark Randall’s Impact! Design for Social Change program. Wolff, who co-taught the program, described how “three wonderful women from three corners of the world” came up with an idea for this “really cool project.” Wolff saw the potential of the project to extend beyond the six-week term of the workshop. She also saw how well LES BID worked with the program. The strength of the working relationship and project concept led to it being pitched to the city and being accepted as a DesigNYC project. About a year later on June 3, 2012 DayLife was realized.

DayLife2.jpg©2012 DUB Studios

Elaborating on the concept behind DayLife, Wolff explained that the project was intended to “break the traditional white tent, sausage and socks street fairs” model and do something “more conscious of neighborhood identity and philosophy of the city.” She went on to say that the project had “long legs” and that she hoped it would lay the groundwork both for future DayLife events and inspire other BIDs. “DesigNYC aims ‘beyond talk’ to actionable creative strategy that can be adapted and replicated to the unique identities of neighborhoods and communities.” Wolff said.

To learn more about DesigNYC and how you can become involved visit