One of my favorite types of news is when people go undercover to improve their environments. In 2008, University of Utah student Tim DeChristopher delayed and ultimately blocked the sale of public land in Southern Utah to oil companies by posing as a bidder. His actions delayed proceedings long enough for the Obama administration to take office and cancel the sale. Earlier this year, the umbrella-roofed Bucky Bar spontaneously popped up around a lightpost in Rotterdam for a party secretly planned by DUS architects and the Studio for Unsolicited Architecture. In 2005, a group of “illegal restorers” snuck into and set up a secret clock-fixing workshop in the Pantheon in Paris and spent a year fixing the monument’s beautiful antique clock, completely undetected.
One of my favorite projects that I’ve done as an individual artist/designer was a colorful fence that I called “Form and Function.” I was an undergraduate at the time, and I lived in an ugly dorm that faced ugly construction that was surrounded by an ugly (but necessary) chain link fence. Fed up by the lack of aesthetic sensitivity in my environment, I spent 10 hours one night weaving hundreds of strips of colored fabric through the fence. People responded really positively to the new splash of color, and after a few days they even started moving the strips around to create their own patterns.
April 4’s daily design idea is secretly improve your environment by doing something undercover.