Community Recommendations: Designing for Respite, Connection, and Belonging

Do you have a place, podcast, or reading recommendation to share with the DME community (on common space or otherwise)?

The Design Museum Everywhere community gathered on May 17, 2023 for a Design Museum Mornings Common Space: Designing for Respite, Connection, and Belonging. During the event, the speakers brought their unique perspectives to how common spaces – ranging from parks, hospitals, and educational environments – are currently designed, are informed by their use, and when cultivated with intention, can fulfill people’s needs for reflection and community. We’ve compiled this collection of common space recommendations from the speakers and attendees of the event to share with our design community.  We hope that you enjoy these suggestions and that they broaden your horizons on how you think about common spaces.

Question: Do you have a place, current favorite food or drink, podcast, or reading recommendation for the DME community (on common space or otherwise)? Note: your response will be shared with event attendees and may appear on the museum’s blog.

Blindness by José Saramago: How dangerous is space when we lose our ability to know it – I read this during COVID, likely not the best time, and though its disturbing it made me think about what we rely on- Rania Adwan

Women Talking by Miriam Toews — When I scanned through the list of books I’ve read over the last five years (nearly 350!), this one jumped out as still so vivid for me AND I immediately pictured the barn where the women in the book spend most of their time talking, debating, exploring their community and their faith and their next steps.- Karen Robichaud

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson :A fantastic book that looks into the future. How climate change, world governance, and human interaction suffer and triumph in times of adversity. What can we learn about these future common spaces and common moments that might help guide us today. The author is skilled at painting a vivid and accurate picture that you can step into.- Ravi Rao

Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Marie Brown:  Be inspired with new ways of thinking that center liberatory methods!-Shalini Agrawal

The Dig Presents: A Garden in Cairo (podcast): A really great story about community spaces that kind of just happen, and a government worried about cohesion destroying those spaces – reminds you of the power we have when we move as a collective, and the politicization of space- Rania Adwan

Group Hangout Playlist: A music playlist that brings together a variety of sounds, beats, and styles. Good background tunes for a group hangout in common space!-Ravi Rao

Team Dynamics podcast, BEHAVE, covers a lot of ground on how behavior and culture inform how we show up for each other. Most of their conversations center on the workplace, but the way they unpack complex topics offers language and pushes for self-awareness that you can apply to any shared or common space. Three episodes I’d point listeners to: Planning an Inclusive Event; Preference for Masculinity; and Where work happens – Karen Robichaud

Decoder Ring: The Mall is Dead (Long Live the Mall) 

Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms– Rania Adwan

San Jose City Hall

Casa Azul

Experience Paley Park in New York City: Many articles have been written about this little park. We can learn a lot about sharing space with others from the lens of this park. The main thing this park facilitates is choice. Patrons of this park have choice to move the furniture around to suit their needs. There was a time-lapse video created of this space and it showed how people moved the chairs around – but interestingly, they only moved it a few inches in any one direction. The small action of adjustment provided some comfort to this temporary inhabiter. What can we learn from this small action and how it helps us as we share common space. – Ravi Rao

Two theatre experiences Dear San Francisco by The 7-Fingers and Sleep No More: I attended while it was in previews in Boston in 2009 and it was such an immersive, unusual, unsettling, remarkable performance experience. – Karen Robichaud



Question: Fill in the blank: Visit this place ________ to experience ________.

  • Visit the LA central library to experience inclusion, invention and iterative intentional consideration of community needs.
  • Visit Cupertino Library to experience fountains in the summer.

Design Museum Magazine cover

From Design Museum Magazine Issue 025