David and Mary Martin’s Madworkshop—and its role in fostering and pushing the boundaries of design education and problem solving—is well-known in industry circles. Think of the foundation’s efforts to confront homelessness and its work with emergency shelters. Recall its endowment of Otis College of Design’s studio led by Jason Wu and culminating in a pro-quality fashion show. Providing fellowships to University of Southern California students to develop their product designs with an eye to the market is yet another initiative.
Madworkshop’s most recent philanthropical endeavor took it eastward for a mash-up between Pratt Institute and Kingston in upstate New York. The goal: to reinvigorate the town through community, design, and making.
Founded in the 17thcentury, Kingston has a legacy of manufacturing, from brick-making to saw mills to shirt factories. With these industries having fallen by the wayside, the premise was to foster a new generation of thinkers and makers. Under the aegis of Pratt Creative Xchange, local Kingston high school students, Pratt faculty, and artisans refreshed an old warehouse building as a pop-up gathering place and embarked on the design process to create products that might eventually be saleable.
With a nod to Kingston’s history, this new generation of budding designers and makers created ceramics and soap—all with reference to the town’s heritage bricks. The perfect Christmas or hostess gift? Absolutely. Says David Martin, “Everything we’ve seen coming out of Pratt and the efforts in Kingston are of the highest level of design quality. The notion of being able to foster local craft and community building around a marvelous design is a time-tested concept exemplified by some of greatest thinkers and talents, including Robert Graham and Isamu Noguchi.”