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

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