Nisobu Lounge

A space for creating community.


Concept: The Nisobu Lounge is a welcoming space for students to congregate, connect, converse and collaborate.

Challenges: Generate a means of bringing students together. Uncover what the campus is lacking and how to address it. Practical considerations of physical space, budget, and presenting a feasible concept that the dean could realistically approve.

The Campus

Santa Monica College's Center for Media and Design (CMD) campus is in it's first semester open to students, and sparsely decorated. It's a satellite campus, not particularly close to the main college campus or much else within easy walking distance.

Much of the furniture, while beautiful, isn't terribly comfortable. The public spaces are quiet, solemn even. The students seen are mostly keeping to themselves or conversing in hushed tones. The campus feels like a library. There is plenty of seating, but much of it is directly outside of classrooms. It's as though the buildings are saying, "it's okay for you to be here, but don't stay longer than necessary."

The Students

We needed to understand the students we were designing for. We began interviewing them.

  • Most are only on campus as long as they have to be for classes.
  • Many have significant periods of downtime between classes, but nothing to do and nowhere to go on campus.
  • The computer lab is a popular spot, but that's a quiet space (like a library) where voices must be kept to a whisper.
  • Though the campus has many public spaces likely designed to promote collaboration, they feel like designated quiet spaces.

Concept: Projected Space

We determined that students needed a welcoming space in which to connect with each other. Once this space exists, something to gently nudge them into starting conversations would help generate a sense of community.

We came up with the idea of a "projected space". A comfortable place to hang out that included content projected onto a wall.



  • Determine what the effects of content projected onto a wall have on the overall space.
  • Identify what students are interested in seeing and what content could be displayed.


  • Sound is important to the "vibe" of a space. A little background noise can counter the library-esque feeling of the campus by indicating to users that they're free to talk, laugh and make a bit of noise.
  • Common interests include student or professional work that inspires them, current events, music, nature and livestreams.
  • Even though some stated that they'd probably ignore the content, it would be a welcome addition like having a TV on in the background while they work.

Result: The Nisobu Lounge

  • Comfortable seating that encourages students to stay a while.
  • Multiple video feeds to appeal to a variety of student interests.
  • One video feed with the volume on to provide a bit of background noise, a subtle cue that conversation is encouraged.