Old Tech and New Spaces: Repurposing Payphones for Community Design


Presentation Title:

  • Old Tech and New Spaces: Repurposing Payphones for Community Design



  • Keywords: Participatory Design, Social Art, DIY, Urbanism, Placemaking, Residue, Social Spaces, Speculative Design.

    The Leimert Phone Company is an experimental community design collective based in South Los Angeles. Our goal is to shift from designing technology for a neighborhood by planning technology as part of the neighborhood. By repurposing unused payphones and other public furniture, our designs seek to reinforce the identity of the neighborhood and create new forms of civic engagement. The collective is run through workshop teams composed of university technologists, artists, and designers who work with local artists, musicians, and concerned citizens. Members bring a variety of knowledge sets that contribute to imagining alternative systems that are culturally specific to the historically black arts community of Leimert Park. Our workshops are structured around rapid-prototyping, embodied prototyping, radical accessibility, and speculative design. In this presentation, I’ll explain the socio-cultural dynamics that inspired the collective, our methodology for maintaining a balanced participatory design process, and the impact the collective has had on reshaping public space and social relations in the neighborhood.

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