ABOUT Studio BLEAK
Studio BLEAK is a partnership of concerned designers, architects, activists, and social justice communities, focused on deepening architecture and design's relationship to social and environmental justice. We think of design in terms of its constraints and embrace our limitations in an opportunistic light. Balancing our self criticism with persistent optimism, we hope to identify new roles for design and join existing efforts to grow social equity.
Our vision is that of comprehensive reorganization of the global systems that exploit the people and degrade the planet. We believe that architects can do more to serve this cause and, by partnering with activism, can push for real, effective change. We reject the apparent inevitability of architecture serving monetary systems of injustice, and we believe in the possibility for designers to better support those who are disenfranchised.
The studio is the brainchild of years of conversation, shared sentiments and unchanneled angst between Brandon Youndt, Elliott Lamborn and Laura Schmitt-Hall. As young architectural designers exploring new ways of engaging in the discourse, they found opportunity within social justice movements, sharing sentiments of designing a more just world. BLEAK was founded to build partnerships between the design we love and the justice we crave. The studio operates out of Los Angeles and maintains partnerships in Philadelphia and Brooklyn within communities of design and activism.
Brandon is an architectural designer, builder and co-founder of Studio BLEAK. Brandon is an active participant in the climate justice movement and a member of the Center for the Working Poor - a social justice community that focuses on nonviolent action. Brandon’s design work focuses mainly on environmental issues such as climate change and wildlife conservation, and how architecture might be part of the solution for an environment in crisis. He is a guest contributor to The Expanded Environment, a nonprofit design organization focused on expanding architecture’s relationship to the natural world.
Elliott is an architectural designer, builder and co-founder of Studio BLEAK. He was the Creative Director of SPOKE magazine, a Philadelphia-based longform magazine about cycling, walking and public transit. His design work spans a variety of fields from research to custom fabrication to publication design. The common threads between them include a tireless ambition to apply design thinking towards social progress and a humble opportunism. Working in those intersections, his work is an attempt to expand conversations between unlikely and conflicting voices.
Laura is an architectural designer, urban photographer and co-founder of Studio BLEAK. Her current preoccupation is the study of public transportation in American cities. Through project grants, Laura has catalogued cultural differences along bus routes in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Philadelphia. This interest in networked communities has led to small organizations based around publications, drawing, and photography.