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Victoria Baird is an interpretive designer with a focus on creating exhibits that make connections between communities and nature. She recently completed her MFA in Design at UC Davis, completing several temporary outdoor exhibitions about the Putah Creek Ecosystem. These exhibits weave together elements of prototyping, community design, scientific research and spectacle. She has also worked for the last 8 years as an Interpretive Park Ranger with the National Park Service and the East Bay Regional Park District. These experiences inform her design methods and innovations in interpreting our natural world.
Creating Alternative Spaces for Engagement explores new and relevant practices and materials, creating a toolbox of methodologies that can be applied to a variety of design projects. For a variety of reasons, many underserved community members have never been to a park or museum. Many of these institutions are becoming less relevant and successful with making a connection to their communities. Designers are in a unique position to mediate between disciplines and interpret complex systems to make them more accessible. Victoria Baird’s recent research examines the successes and challenges of designers working with scientists, historians, and the community. This expands the role of the designer to include field research, outreach, and community liaison. Through the lens of interpretive design thinking, this research seeks to address the dualistic mission of conservation: to protect and inspire appreciation. The project experiments with a variety of design methods, including community curation, creating spectacular extemporaneous interventions, and encouraging (gasp!) touch and direct interaction with actual collection items.