Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New York Bicycle Rack Design

Grain recently entered a competition sponsored by the New York Department of Transportation to design a new bicycle rack for the streets of New York. Our design - dubbed The Milton - was intended to increase the use of bicycles for transportation by creating something iconic, inspiring, fun, and practical for cyclists to use. Watch a video (bottom of post) visually describing our entry, and check out some pics (above & below). It comes in two sizes and reads like 3D text.

Cool, now lets ride...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Material for Blu Homes

Grain recently created a series of seven informational packets for Blu Homes (links to three examples below). The packets cover their entire line of environmentally conscious prefab homes and are available via the Blu Homes website. They of course do custom design and architecture as well for those us who so desire. It's the way we like it: built small, built green, & built easy.

also did the logo and branding work for Blu prior to their initial launch back in July
. So far, so good for this excellent young company. We'll keep you blogged.

> Blu - Flex Media
> Blu - Origin
Blu -

> Grain

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Social Entrepreneurship Workshop at A Better World By Design

Over 60 participants showed up for the Social Entrepreneurship Workshop led by Grain at the A Better World by Design Conference in Providence last weekend. The workshop asked participants to think about the many un-met design opportunities that could service communities here in the US. Content for the workshop was based on Sami Nerenburg's current studio at RISD, Design for Social Entrepreneurship. It was great for us all to be back at RISD/Brown. 

Sami ended the workshop with an inspiring quote from President-Elect, Barack Obama, that I would like to share again here:

"I ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand."
Sami also participated in a panel discussion entitled Social Entrepreneurship with Alan Harlam, Director of Social Entrepreneuership at the Brown Swearer Center, Caitlin Cohen, Co-Founder of Mali Health Organizing Project, and Marina Kim from Ashoka's Global Academy University ProgramTo read more about that check out her guest blog on NextBillion.net here.

Thanks to everyone who participated and to A Better World By Design for inviting us!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Grain Workshop at A Better World By Design

Grain will be leading a workshop as part of the A Better World By Design Conference this weekend in Providence. The following is a description of our workshop. It is based on the curriculumn of Sami's current design studio, Design for Social Entreprenuership, at RISD: 

Design for Social Entrepreneurship
Grain Design: Sami Nerenberg, Brittany Kleinman, James Minola, Chelsea Green

Grain Design will travel with you to introduce and explore the meaning of the UN Millennium Goals and how these as a framework can be used to uncover overlooked design opportunities. After jumping into the world of design you will walk out of this workshop filled with entrepreneurial ideas as well as a process to consider how the power of design and design thinking can be used to address some of the leading problems of our day – internationally and domestically.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Grain Announces Deep Energy Concept

The Deep Energy (DE) concept opens up a new category in renewable energy. Sustainable electricity is generated utilizing deep ocean pressures by a process that produces no pollution or waste of any kind DE is the first example of what we’re calling baropelagics because the process relies on the compression of air under deep ocean pressures to generate electricity. Amazingly, this clean technology has the potential to meet or surpas the output of a nuclear power generator!

Unaffected by season or climate, DE can be installed in almost a limitless number of ocean locations worldwide. Additionally, the ability to store compressed air for later use will maximize the income generating potential of DE. Our hope is that DE will inspire companies and engineers to make this green energy concept reality. Please contact
Grain for more information.

> Grain

> Deep Energy Baropelagics (bigger video)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sami at Better World By Design Confrence!

Grain's Sami Nerenberg to be speaking as a panelist for the Better World by Design Conference going on next month at RISD/Brown Univeristy in Providence, RI! Sami will be one of dozens of world-class professionals and academics in this milestone conference that will change the way you think about global crises and push the limits of user-centric, affordable design. It looks like it will be quite an event. Sami will be speaking on the Social Entrepreneurship panel (see information below). To attend, pre-register via their website.

Social Entrepreneurship (Sunday, November 9, 11:15-12:00pm)
How can business strategy and technology work together to better the world? What is the relationship among social entrepreneurs, designers, and other experts?

> Better World by Design Confrence

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Design for Social Entrepreneurship (DeSE)

Tomorrow marks the start of the semester for Rhode Island School of Design's new advanced studio Design for Social Entrepreneurship (DeSE) led by Grain's own Sami Nerenburg in the Department of Industrial Design. What is social entrepreneurship, you ask? According to Sami's syllabus:

"A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change."

You can follow their work all semester on their class blog. It is sure to be an innovative course!! Good luck Sami!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Re+Vision featured on Worldchanging Seattle!!

Big thanks to Julia Steinberger for her amazing post "Teens Envision New Spaces For Seattle" on Worldchanging Seattle regarding the Seattle Art Museum's Re+Vision: Design Your (Neighbor)hood led by Grain's Chelsea Green. Final teen projects from the program are still up in the Alvord Art Lab at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Re+Vision at Olympic Sculpture Park

Come check out the Re+Vision: Design Your (Neighbor)hood final designs at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. The reception/presentation is August 7th from 6:00 - 8:00 pm.

The show will stay up through August 22nd.
Grain's own Chelsea Green was the Project Manager for this exciting 6-week design education program at the Seattle Art Museum. Read more about the program on their teen-run

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sami Nerenberg to teach new RISD studio: Design for Social Entrepreneurship!

The Rhode Island School of Design has asked our Sami Nerenberg to develop and teach a new course in RISD's industrial design department! Her answer? An innovative new senior studio: Design for Social Entrepreneurship. Reading the course description (below) it sounds like it will be an amazing and inspirational experience for the lucky RISD students who get to take her class. Makes me want to go back to school! We'll keep you posted as the course develops.

Design for Social Entrepreneurship (DeSE)
RISD Fall '08

A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change.
This course aims to cultivate social entrepreneurial designers by investigating the power of product, system and service design to create positive social and environmental change. Looking at both international and domestic issues, this course asks, how can design and design thinking be used to solve the world’s leading problems to achieve triple bottom line sustainability—environmentally, socially, and economically? Structured around holistic thinking, collaborative and individual design work, with mentorship from experts in the field, this course uncovers how to design products and/or services, wrap a business around it, and create tangible positive impact in our world today.

>Sami's Blog

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blu Homes

Our friends over at Blu Homes have just launched their new website!

"Committed to creating healthy, efficient, and ecologically friendly homes that respect your time and your budget, BLU is a new kind of home company." They produce a wide range of amazing prefab homes full of the latest green features and technology. With the capability to build in many different locations across the US, they are definitely a company to watch.

Look for Blu's VP of product development (Dennis Michaud) at the MoMA show "Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling" which is starting this month.

Oh, and if you happen to love their logo, be sure to check out Grain!

>Blu Homes

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brit joins wejetset editorial team!!

Grain's tireless adventurer and market guru, Brit, will be spreading the word on global markets for wejetset - a truely modern travel magazine. Check out her first post Market Culture: Chichicastenango, Guatemala.

Insider Grain info: James, Brit, and Chelsea first bonded on a trip to Guatemala as part of
Bridging Culture Through Design - Guatemala, a RISD sustainable product development program led by Mimi Robinson. You can read all about that program on treehugger here.

Remember to keep up with Brit on AVO:Market too!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Re+Vision is up and running!!

We are up and running - trekking across the city taking in art, design, and sunshine!! We are entering our third week tomorrow!! Check out our blog to see what we have been up to...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Re+Vision: Design Your (Neighbor)hood

Grain's Chelsea Green is leading an exciting program at the Seattle Art Museum this summer called Re+Vision: Design Your (Neighbor)hood. It is for Seattle area teens (13-19 years old) who are interested in being design thinkers and change makers in their urban environment. They will meet June 30th - August 8th, Monday - Friday 9:30 am - 3:30 pm at the Seattle Art Museum downtown. The program is totally FREE!!

Please spread the word to any Seattle teens who may be interested!! The official deadline is this Friday, June 6th 5:00 pm (but it may be extended). Contact Chelsea as soon as possible for more info.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

IDSA interview with our very own Brit Kleinman!

Interview with Brit Kleinman now up on the IDSA Rhode Island website! Topics include Grain, sustainable design, and what she's got in store for the future. Click on the link, or see post below.


> Grain

Monday, May 19, 2008

Seattle wants going green to be easier on taxpayers - move that supports sustainable design

Seattle is taking steps toward "product stewardship" which may require companies to help share the burden of consumer waste disposal. As more city's adopt such measures, the need for sustainable design expertise will continue to grow, pushing cradle-to-cradle design considerations in all products. Excerpt below by Angela Galloway for the Seatle PI:

City wants going green to be easier on taxpayers

From carpet recycling to curbside pickup of broken televisions and computers, Seattle politicians are considering ways to help shift away from taxpayers some of the burden -- and cost -- of waste disposal.

Such steps aim to encourage a fundamental change in waste-reduction efforts toward "producer responsibility." A national movement also dubbed "product stewardship," the effort is considered a critical factor in moving beyond landfills and in encouraging manufacturers to opt for environmentally friendly product design.

"Traditionally, when we're done with products, the responsibility has fallen on government to ensure that the recycling programs are in place," said Suellen Mele, of Washington Citizens for Resource Conservation. "Producer responsibility is really a different approach in which the manufacturers of the products are the ones that take responsibility for their products throughout the whole life of the products."

> Full Article
> Grain

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Brit Kleinman interviewed for the Industrial Designers Society of America's Rhode Island Chapter

What is Grain?
Grain is a multidisciplinary consultancy that unites sustainability and business through design.
As consumers and businesses continue to realize the hidden costs of the objects they use and create, both must evolve towards a more sustainable future. At Grain, we do not consider this fact a burden but a chance for innovation. Our commitment is to find new opportunities within markets and provide sustainable solutions, which exceed the expectations of both our clients and end consumers.

How did you decide to form the company?

Founded in 2007 at the Rhode Island School of Design, a ‘dream team’ of RISD talent emerged collectively actively asking how, as designers, we could make our world a better more sustainable place to live. There are many ways one could go about changing our unsustainable consumer culture. One way is by force through various forms of government regulation. Another is through education over time.
At Grain, our first step is always to question what sustainability means within the context of each project. Even if a product is made "sustainable", we still have to question its relevance to society. Is it necessary to create new products, or is it more sustainable to provide a service-based design? There are numerous creative ways of looking at a problem to optimize the economic, social, and environmental value. Grain believes that by optimizing all three systemically, one can achieve the greatest outcome for the greatest number of people. There is no reason sustainable products and services can't be even more desirable than their inefficient and/or toxic cousins. As designers, we must help both businesses and consumers want what is also good. This is why we've created Grain.

Who is involved and how?

Right now Grain operates as a mixture of full time and part time designers. James Minola (RISD BFA '07) is our Founder and was the driving force behind bringing us together as a business.
Chelsea Green (RISD MID '07, Pratt BFA '02), Partner at Grain, has also been instrumental in getting us to where we are today. Together, they work full time on both the business and design aspects of the company. The rest of the team includes Jackie Guido (RISD BFA '07), Sami Nerenberg (RISD BFA '07), and myself Brit Kleinman (RISD BFA '07). We all work independently for outside companies but come together to collaborate on Grain projects. We're a well-rounded group that all worked (or are currently working) for some very high profile companies. We're proud of Grain and believe firmly in what we stand for. We take all our outside experiences and contribute them to our larger goals with Grain.

How is Rhode Island a good place for design and business?
RISD has, of course, been a huge resource for us. The richness of its community is unmatched. We miss being students there, but we're definitely taking our passion and dedication for design to inform how we move forward with Grain. When someone's passionate about their work, you can see it in the way they talk about it, the way they interact with their clients, and in their end product.

What's up next for Grain?

We're a new company, so we're still doing everything we can to get out there and make an impact. We recently had two pieces in Design Within Reach's Modern + Design + Function furniture show in
Seattle where we won the "Best Green Design" award. We also do outreach and have various internal projects going. Two of our designers recently did a workshop on design and sustainability with a class of 4th graders. I'm also working on AVO:Market (www.avoavo.com) which is a collaborative image guide and think tank for street markets all over the world. Recently AVO has been featured in international magazines and design blogs. The rest of Grain may get more involved with AVO through projects here in Providence for Fresh Farm RI. As we move forward we continue to design for competitions and look for exciting prospects for Grain to be a part of. The dream projects are the ones where the client is open and able to understand the value of innovation. We also believe design's role should extend far beyond product. Our clients don’t have to already be a zero-impact, Cradle-to-Cradle company to work with Grain. We're working to make change, and it's a work in progress.

>IDSA Rhode Island

Monday, April 28, 2008

Learn Young: Design + Sustainability Workshop

This Friday, Grain will be teaching a workshop on the role of design thinking and the importance of sustainability in today's world. The captive audience will be Ms. Doss' 4th grade class at Olympic Hills Elementary School.

"It will be great exposure for the kids. We've planned some fun activities to introduce design and encourage critical thinking. It's a great age for kids to be learning about larger concepts such as sustainability." - James Minola
(Attendance by Ms. Doss' class only.)

>Ms. Doss' Class

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Grain mentioned in our.risd.edu blog for Earth Day! We spent our earth day planting tomatoes and sweet peas in the kitchen garden... and as always, working.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Grain in RISD e-views!

Grain is featured in this month's edition of RISD e-views! That's issue #37 if you're counting. Find us in the Look Around section (and tell a friend).

> Grain
> RISD e-views

Friday, April 18, 2008

Grain Wins GREEN AWARD!!!

Yay! Grain wins the award for best green design! Our winning Youth Chair (see post below) took home the award at the Seattle M+D+F furniture show at Design Within Reach. The judges for the show were:

Andy Thaemert, Associate Principal, Callison Architecture
Luke Fryer, Visual Ops,
Dept. of Energy 
Erich Ginder, Designer

Held at the Design Within Reach showroom on 1st Ave, the event was well attended, and several local designers were represented. Thanks to DWR and to all who made this event possible.

Learn more about Grain

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Lab: An Evening With Matte Stephens

Grain is going, are you?
Wednesday, April 16th 6-8 pm
Seattle, WA

Velocity Art And Design presents The Lab: a series of events at their
South Lake Union showroom which will feature guests integral to shaping our landscape here in the Northwest and beyond, while helping to foster opportunities for creative thinking, networking, and inspiration.

The first event at The Lab will feature beloved artist Matte Stephens. Matte, his wife and a cadre of pets have recently relocated from Alabama to The Northwest. Matte is excited to be introduced to the creative community here in Seattle and to say thank you for all of your support for his artwork Matte and Velocity owner, John Tusher, will be on-hand to present stories about Matte’s life, being an independent artist, process, and inspiration. He will be available to answer questions from fellow artists and fans alike. Velocity will also have a drawing that evening for limited prints by Matte. New original works will be available for purchase at the store that evening.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Grain is pleased to announce we have been selected to present new works at Seattle’s Design + Modern + Function furniture show (see posts below for the selections). We hope to see you there!!

Design Within Reach

1918 First Avenue Seattle, WA 98101

April 17th, 2008
6:30 pm - 9:30 pm

RSVP to seattle@dwr.com
by April 16th
More info about us here:

Grain "Padded Stump" stool selected for Design Within Reach competition!

Padded Stump
By: Chelsea Green for Grain
Materials: found wood tree stump, 12" square pillow form, rubber bands

What is really necessary to provide a good seat? Padded Stump is a spontaneous composition of found parts. It is a do-it-yourself gesture to serve an immediate need. Hopefully, it inspires others to do the same with what surrounds them.

Fabricated of found elements – nothing "new" was used in the creation of Padded Stump. All components can be taken apart and re-purposed as user needs change over time.

Grain "Youth Chair" selected for Design Within Reach competition

Youth Chair # 3
By: James Minola for Grain.
Materials: scrap wood, steel clamps

Playful and sustainable, Youth Chair # 3 creates an environment for the discussion of green principles. Made entirely from unaltered scrap wood held by clamps, Youth Chair # 3 opens a dialog on larger concepts such as materiality and waste.

As an interactive piece of furniture, families can add their own found materials to change the form again and again. This relationship allows the chair to grow with the child as it continues to be a source of creativity, learning, and re-use.

The clamps serve as the chair’s legs and as a fun way to construct (and re-construct) the chair without the use of fasteners or other tools.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Reminder: Tapas at Tasca dinner for Design that Matters starts tonight!

Hello Everyone!
This is a reminder that our "Tapas at Tasca: Eat for a Good Cause" starts tonight, Monday April 7th 5pm, and will continue on for our second night tomorrow! The nights will be filled with friends, festivities and delicious food, along with DtM product demos and networking opportunities for all. The event is two evenings, so join us on the night and time that works best for your schedule. If you haven't rsvped yet, you still can by:

emailing info@tascarestaurant.com
or you can call 617.730.8002
(and remember to mention DtM)

(If don't get a chance to RSVP, don't worry, you can still come, but may just have to wait for a table.)

Tasca Tapas Restaurant
1612 Commonwealth Ave.,Brighton, MA
April 7: 5-11pm
April 8: 5-11pm

We look forward to seeing you all there!

The DtM Team

(by Sami, posted by

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Grain News Blog Launched


Grain has launched this blog to provide updates on our news, happenings, and new projects.

Grain, our focus is on uniting sustainability and business through design.

We believe that sustainability will drive business by offering new markets, technologies, opportunities, and users. In turn, business will drive sustainability through increased awareness, regulation, and making change. The shift has begun.