Field trip: Hauser Wirth + Schimmel

Working in the Arts District has its advantages (well, duh). How many people can pop over to a brand new "international gallery" like Hauser Wirth + Schimmel during their lunch break? Last Wednesday, we did just that. Armed with genuine curiosity and some mildly fancy cameras, Alisa, Clarisa, Kate, Noah and our awesome intern Olivia headed over. The block has made quite a transformation: from a building we always wondered if was abandoned (or a former embassy?) to a clean, classy, cacti-surrounded artistic oasis. Gone is the overgrowth, gone are the unfriendly pointed gates and probably-fake CCTV cameras. In its place is a shining example of repurposing and excitement. 

 
 

The space houses several galleries. Inside, the stark white walls highlight the newly polished, cracking tiles and concrete flooring. Skylights give you the feeling that you've entered an artistic heaven, set on slight overexposure. There are outdoor eating and gathering areas, food trucks, a bookstore, and a soon-to-be restaurant—and plenty of succulents. 

 
 

While it felt like we could have stayed all day, our quick trip was a welcome taste of what's to come to the space. We checked out the current exhibition, Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947-2016, as well as some of the other smaller galleries sprinkled across the campus. Definitely take a look their events calendar and stop by! Don't worry—sometimes the Black Top trailer is there if you need a coffee fix, or maybe the Pirozhki truck.

 

verynice at the Strelka Institute in Russia | Day 1

Journal | February 16, 2016

Our founder Matt Manos was invited to speak at the Strelka Instutute in Moscow, Russia. During his stay he'll be filming an online course, giving a talk, and leading a workshop. 

After a long flight direct from Los Angeles to Moscow, I settled in and met with the awesome people at Strelka Institute, an art and design school focusing on urban futures and entrepreneurship in the heart of Moscow (right next to the Kremlin and red square). We had a great turnout for the talk with over 100 people in attendance! The participants asked excellent questions!

verynice Field Trip: Arts District Graffiti & Mural Walk

Last Friday, the verynice team took a two and half mile guided tour through our neighborhood, the Arts District in Downtown LA. It was amazing hearing the stories of art we see every day, and finding new, secret and forgotten art all over the place.

We asked our visiting interns from South Korea's Seoul Institute of the Arts, Lucy and Joo Yeon, to create some art using the photos we took on the tour. We've also asked the team to share what the most interesting thing they learned from the tour, those are featured below.

 Charlie Charlie, by Lucy

Charlie Charlie, by Lucy

I was sad to hear that some of the the female artists were having their work targeted by vandalism, but super excited that some of my favorite pieces were made by women.
— Alisa
My favorite part of the tour was the backstories on the artwork that I take advantage of every day, walking the dog or having a beer at Angel City Brewery. There’s so much street art all over our little neighborhood, it’s easy to forget how lucky we are!
— Kate
 Farewell, by Joo Yeon

Farewell, by Joo Yeon

I found it so inspiring that artists from all over the world with eclectic backgrounds helped shape the arts district become what it is. I also got a sense of respect between artists that majority of the pieces were not tagged or defaced.
— Clarisa
I was fascinated to learn about the culture of local street artists, and how there is a sense of credibility that needs to be earned in order to be “allowed” to paint on a given walls. Primarily this history circled the group UTI. Also interesting is the UTI group’s evolution from a more dark personality to one that is celebrated by civic leaders.
— Matt
When I commute to Downtown, I see a lot of graffiti murals— I could tell it was high quality work. The tour was a good time to see a lot more art, and learn. It was great day!
— Joo Yeon
 Brain, by Joo Yeon

Brain, by Joo Yeon

I was so interested in everything. Everything was so unique and delicate. Also, the styles were not seen in Korea. Unforgettable day!
— Lucy
 Super Charlie! by Lucy

Super Charlie! by Lucy

I really like the fact that there is a ton of art that I never really noticed. Especially all the telephone pole pieces that little old man from Up is doing.
— Kraig
It was amazing to see large-scale mural art and the most subtle of marks on the side of the road share similar purposes marking a history filled with enormity. Every seemingly accidental and purposeful mark I cross as I walk these streets for the next few months will definitely spark my curiosity.
— Jon

 

Introducing the Advisory Council, and the Next Step for Bora

One of the hardest things to find as an entrepreneur is the right partner to help share and grow your vision.

In 2010, I met Bora while pursuing my MFA degree at the ArtCenter College of Design. During the first year of our graduate studies, I was confronted with the challenge of running a fast-growing business, and began to see the challenge of working alone. I remember arriving on campus at 4am in order to work on verynice projects up until 10am. Then, from 10am to 6pm, I would work on my school work, attend class, and collaborate with my fellow MFA candidates. Somewhere along the way, Bora, who had the cubicle next to me at ArtCenter, shared with me her dreams as a designer. She believed strongly in creating opportunities for designers to engage in mission-driven work in order to help communities in need. After hearing about her vision, it was immediately obvious that she shared the same dream as verynice. After working together on numerous pro-bono projects, I asked Bora (over a bowl of spaghetti) to join the verynice family as Managing Partner. Upon graduating, we got our first office space at the HUB in Downtown Los Angeles, and with our full time efforts focusing on growing verynice, we were able to grow from 100 volunteers and one full-time staff member, to a business with multiple offices, over 10 staff members, and over 400 volunteers. Our partnership was an incredible and exciting journey, and today I could not be more excited to help share with you all the next chapter for verynice.

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As of August, Bora and I have worked together to create a plan that has allowed her to smoothly transition out of her role as Managing Partner into a new role as a Founding Member of verynice's incredible new Advisory Council. The Council includes a panel of experts from diverse industries who are all incredibly important in bringing verynice to the level it is today. These members include Steve Kukla, Jeff Manos, Seri McClendon, Alexi Robichaux, Kristin Romaine, Terry Stone, and Petrula Vrontikis. Each of these individuals have provided incredible support to me as a young entrepreneur, have had my back, and have inspired me throughout my career. While Bora will no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations of verynice, I feel comfortable knowing that her voice will live on within verynice in this exciting new capacity. Stay tuned for more information about our new Advisory Council as well as a lot more exciting things to come. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the following timeline which highlights that past 10 years of service, highlighting the many accomplishments Bora has made possible for verynice:

2005:

  • Matthew's first pro-bono engagement takes place in Sunnyvale, CA.

2006:

  • 100% pro-bono work for UCLA student groups

2007:

  • Matthew takes on his first paid design project that was referred by a pro-bono client

  • Daytime Moon Creations becomes the first official pro-bono client of a verynice design studio.

2008:

  • Soft-launch of a verynice design studio

2009:

  • Public launch of a verynice design studio

  • Featured on Daily Bruin and Cargo Collective

  • First volunteer of a verynice design studio joins the team

2010:

  • a verynice design studio is featured in the UCLA Design Media Arts undergraduate gallery show, prompting more volunteers and partners

  • Decks for Parks project launches as the first internal initiative of verynice

  • MTV Savage County, verynice's first major project, launches

2011:

  • Give-Half Model is established

  • Matthew + Bora’s first pro-bono collaboration via Homeboy Industries

  • verynice's network reaches 100 volunteers

  • verynice reaches $250k in donated pro-bono services

2012:

  • Bora joins as a partner and a verynice design studio re-brands itself as verynice.co

  • Matthew gives a talk at TEDxCMU

  • verynice establishes its Entrepreneur in Residence program

  • First office space acquired at Impact HUB Los Angeles

  • First agreement for pro-bono projects established

  • verynice is featured on Forbes and GOOD

  • verynice's network reaches 250 volunteers

2013:

  • verynice reaches $1MM in donated pro-bono services

  • verynice hires its first staff member: Kate Manos

  • Featured on Forbes, Huffington Post, Art Directors Club

  • verynice is awarded the Golden Root Award from Taproot, and received recognition from Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti

  • verynice launches a partnership with the Unicef Innovation Unit to scale up its volunteer program via project U-Report.

  • verynice beats Borat for "very nice" in the google search rankings and is subsequently featured on MTV for this momentous occasion

  • verynice's network reaches 300 volunteers

2014:

  • Launch of NY office at CSI

  • Printed edition of "How to Give Half of Your Work Away for Free" is published

  • First volunteer fellow deployed to Uganda in support of UNICEF Uganda Country Office

  • Partnership with Ashoka’s Catapult providing design mentorship curriculum for youth ventures begins

  • Launch of Models of Impact, a research project and platform that documents impact models and revenue models in use today

  • Partnership with City of LA for Civic Fellowship Program

  • Jake Dunagan joins as Director of Design Futures and launches ATX satellite

  • verynice team grows to a dedicated staff of over 10 across all three offices

  • Wider range of services offered under the umbrella of Design, Strategy and Foresight.

  • Partnership with Google for Billion Acts of Peace

  • Matthew gives a talk at TEDxJNJ

  • verynice LA moves to a new office space

  • verynice reaches $3MM in donated pro-bono services

  • verynice's network reaches 350 volunteers

2015:

  • Reginald, a new pro-bono invoicing platform by verynice, launches

  • verynice is invited to the United Nations to serve as a delegate for the Media for Social Impact Summit

  • verynice's network reaches 400 volunteers

  • Matt, Jake and Bora participate as speakers at World Future Society

  • verynice is profiled in the Fall 2015 issue of HOW Magazine

  • Launch of Advisory Council

Meet our NYC Interns!

It’s been about almost 3 months since verynice NY launched. Although surviving through this “coldest” NY’s winter has been tough, we are happy that it is finally getting warmer. While looking forward to warmer and happier NY, we had our NY interns to capture the around of verynice. We had them interview each other, too. 

Enjoy :) 

 Contemplating Design

Contemplating Design

 The mystical Irish

The mystical Irish

 Where verynice is located, inside CSI

Where verynice is located, inside CSI

 Colorful blackboard with all the upcoming events at CSI

Colorful blackboard with all the upcoming events at CSI

 The Highline! A whole park on a bridge

The Highline! A whole park on a bridge

 The view from the highline

The view from the highline

 Chop Shop - Best Chinese restaurant in Chelsea

Chop Shop - Best Chinese restaurant in Chelsea

 After a tiring and exploring lunch break, cookies were in order

After a tiring and exploring lunch break, cookies were in order


Introduce yourself.

Kate: My name is Kate, I come from Dublin, Ireland. I’m 24, and I recently moved to New York to pursue my design career.

  This is Kate Hynes, visual generalist intern

This is Kate Hynes, visual generalist intern

Moazam: Hello, my name is Moazam, I’m 22 years old, a senior at Rutgers University, and I also live in New Jersey.

  This is Moazam Shah, volunteer in residence

This is Moazam Shah, volunteer in residence


How did you get into design?

Moazam: I started out just designing flyers and collateral for student organizations at my university. As I continued to build on my interest in design, I realized I could pursue it all as a career. So it started out as an interest and developed into full time awesomeness.

Kate: I always knew I wanted to do something creative, and when I was sixteen I did an internship at a graphic design agency in Dublin, and it sort of cemented my ambition to become a graphic designer.


Who are some of your favorite designers?

Kate: Paula Scher .. I just think shes very inspiring and also Sofie Fili, I love designers who pave their way with their own style. Jan Van Toorn is another favorite.

Moazam: I really like Gavin Potenza. He does these really beautiful, clever illustrations. Frank Chimero and Alex Cican are also two of my favorites - I love their work and also their writing.


What is the best thing about verynice NY?

Moazam: I love the integration of pro bono work into verynice’s business model. “Double output, and give half away for free”. The location definitely adds to the experience too. The Center for Social Innovation created a cool environment made up of all sorts of other companies trying to disrupt the traditional way of running a business, to produce social good… and the cafe downstairs has really good cookies… 

Kate: The people are absolutely lovely, especially Bora. I love the variety of projects that come my way, I don’t think I’d get that type of variation in another company and the Pro Bono aspect has a lot to do with it. Its just a brilliant place to start off at, and I feel very lucky.


If you had a million dollars bestowed upon you tomorrow, what would you do?

Moazam: Hmm.. I’d probably move into the city because I hate public transportation for all of its inefficiencies, but other than that I wouldn’t change much. I don’t really do anything that I hate or that money could change. Other than that I’d save it. Probably a boring answer.

Kate: I’d like to go to Barcelona - I’ve never been there, but I like the idea of living in a beautiful city, right beside the beach. So, that’s where I’m headed next.

Global Service Jam

 

I had a blast this past weekend speaking and mentoring at the 2014 Global Service Jam inside DIRECTV's awesome innovation lab.

Global Service Jam is an event that simultaneously takes place across 100 cities. People interested in service design, design thinking, and innovation meet up across these locations to develop a brand new service design solution in just 48 hours.

My team had interest in developing a new service design solution that could make the logistics of local disaster relief simpler. I'm biased, but I totally think my team was the best ;)

The presentation I have was centered around tactics for rapid prototyping. I walked the audience through several strategies and approaches for quickly testing and iterating upon a concept. The point? Get ideas out of your head as fast as possible!

 Photo by  @yknakano

Photo by @yknakano

I can't wait for next year. Until then, I'll share an anecdote that I had shared with the audience:

"Proving a problem is more important than proving a solution."

Taproot's Global Pro Bono Summit

Bora and I took a brief trip to San Francisco last week thanks to a friendly invite from the Taproot Foundation to attend the Global Pro Bono Summit. The event was an incredible experience. Perhaps the most amazing part was the fact that out of the 35 companies that were invited to attend, verynice was the only small business being represented. The second smallest business had 1,000 employees... We're very proud to be the global leader in small business volunteerism!

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Throughout the session, we worked in small groups and focused on the challenges of scaling pro-bono impact, how to best leverage the excitement amongst younger generations around pro-bono service, and much more.

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We can't wait until next year! 

Exploring Philly

Last week I had the incredible honor of being invited to give a TEDx talk on the potential for pro-bono impact in big business. The talk was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, a company I really respect. Better yet, the talk was in Philly - I city I've never explored!

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I knew that time would be tight because the schedule for talks and rehearsals were quite intense, so I wanted to make the most of what time alone I had to see new things (and eat good food).

After arriving from a red eye flight at 6am EST, I stumbled into my driver's car. He was a great man, and was very proud to show me around his hometown. In just minutes we were at the hotel, and I quickly ran up to my room to pass out for 4 hours.

After my nap, I had one thing on my mind: LOVE park. Being a lifelong skateboarder, I knew that I wanted to see this world-famous skate-spot. Being a bit delusional from lack of sleep, I decided that the best way to get there would be on foot. 

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I had a blast watching the skaters, and got a bit nostalgic at the same time. I saw a familiar scene in the far distance, and asked one of the skaters what it was. "Rocky steps!" they yelled. I knew I had to run up those. Rocky is one of my favorite movies.

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 I made it!

I made it!

After the long trek to the steps, I ran up them. Although tempted to jog in one place with both arms high above my head, I realized that would be a bit of an overkill. I never felt more deserving of a Philly Cheesesteak, so that became the next destination on my radar. 

 Official Philly Cheese Steak!

Official Philly Cheese Steak!

Next up was my dress rehearsal for the big event. It went great!

Of course you can't be in a celebratory mood on the east coast and not get Shake Shack and watch Robocop... well, at least that is what I do.

What a fun experience. Can't wait to go back!

The Last Bookstore

 
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Last on our adventure was a quick stop at The Last Bookstore, a bookworm's dream. Truly. It's so bizarre and perfect inside. Book tunnels, flying anthologies, a mounted mammoth's head; it's all inside this former bank.

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Cindy and I were simply astounded that neither Matt nor Alisa had stepped foot in here before. We each roamed and ended up in the sections that spoke the most about each of us: Matt in Poetry, Alisa in Classics, Cindy in Design; I followed Alisa around on her quest to promote her pair of Alice in Wonderland editions into a collection.

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Unfortunately, she didn't find anything that caught her eye; the search continues.

Matt's super into Allen Ginsberg right now; have you seen Kill Your Darlings? You should, if you love jazz, poetry, beatniks, or Harry Potter. Or Dexter.

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And thus concludes our first official verynice Field Trip! I'd say it was a success. Where should we go next?