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The Best Things We Saw Last Month

Encouraging messages bring joy and hope, a device that prevents pedestrians from touching public buttons, and a global call for art.

Electric Coffin Launches ‘Rise Above’ Campaign

As difficult as this time in quarantine has been, I have felt so much hope seeing the ways in which people—and those in the design community especially—have been stepping up to help out others and support creative industries. There are so many people, firms, and initiatives I could call out, but I want to highlight my friends over at Electric Coffin. Last month they launched a campaign called ‘Rise Above’ that was meant to bring joy and hope to Seattle. During the campaign the team projected large-scale graphics of custom mylar balloons with Electric Coffin’s floral style on buildings around town. The slogans on the balloon images read encouraging messages such as “We Will Dance Again,” “We Got This,” and “Thinking of You.” In addition, to  support the effort of community relief during these hard times, Electric Coffin is selling limited-edition prints through Roq la Rue Gallery. Thirty percent of the profits will be donated to Musang Community Kitchen in Seattle, which is providing free meals to those in need during the pandemic. Head on over to Electric Coffin’s website to check out a short video they made about the ‘Rise Above’ project and see the projected balloons captured around town.

—Rachel Gallaher, Deputy Editor

Push by Dutch Designer Thor ter Kulve

So much will need to change as we begin to emerge from isolation and learn to operate in a world without a coronavirus vaccine. Architects and designers have already begun rethinking how we live, work, and play and are coming up with innovative solutions to help keep us social distancing and safe. One such solution that caught my attention (and honestly, should have been implemented even before the pandemic) is Push, a low-tech gadget that alters the way we touch buttons in public spaces, created by Dutch product designer Thor ter Kulve. Pedestrians employ their knees, elbows, hips, walking sticks, whatever to hit a large lever that then activates the small button. “Feeling useless and restless in lockdown, but with access to the workshop, I set out to build a simple device that would prevent touching the exact same place as everyone else,” the designer, who is known for his public space-hacking creations, says. Push was crafted using what he had available in his studio: an angle grinder, a welder, and leftover 3mm mild steel sheets. It’s specifically designed for UK traffic light buttons, but can be adapted for other public buttons. For plans and a production guide, contact Thor ter Kulve’s studio.

—Lauren Mang, Digital Editor

As reflected by Amplifier’s uplifting statement “YOUR art has power,” it has been a truly amazing experience to see our design community come together in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Launched in late March, the Seattle-based design lab’s Global Open Call for Art emergency campaign requested graphic designers and artists alike to submit pieces promoting physical and mental health and/or a positive vision of our world on the ‘other side’ of the pandemic. In addition, it has also awarded $1,000 to 60 artists as winning works were announced weekly through May 8. My favorite part about this campaign, however, is that Amplifier has committed to distributing the winning art “both online and in the physical locations where they are needed most.” It’s also made all of the art selected by its jury from this campaign available as a free download for anyone to print and share. This follows Amplifier’s initiative to aid the distribution of art around the world intended to make real and meaningful change. Visit Amplifier’s new Community site for free downloads and to view all of the campaign’s submissions.

—Meghan Burger, Events Director

Artwork by Mike Nicholson and Holy Moly UK for


The Best Things We Saw is a monthly roundup of places, spaces, and things that stopped GRAY staffers in their tracks. This month, we’re changing things up to focus on how the design and art communities are creating innovative solutions and experiences to help during this global health crisis. Herewith, our picks for the best of the best in April.


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