Created in collaboration with Alexis Bieda, Angela Piccolo, Jen Strong, and Kate Degman, The Grind is a pop-up coffee shop and exhibition on sex aimed at giving college students a newer, more inclusive and positive take on sexual education.
In addition to being a part of the overall concept decisions, I was personally responsible for the "Sex Should Be... Protected" content and visualization, some of the illustration work, and the Photoshop work for the whole group.
In the age of “Me Too” and “Time’s Up,” a new light has been shed on sexual assault and sex culture. A lot of gray area is caused due to a general lack of understanding about consent and a big lean toward sex-shaming. When students go to college for the first time, many of them become more sexually active than they have ever been, and most have not received proper sex education. This is a time where knowing the basics of safe and fun sex is crucial, but luckily a time in which it is not too late to learn.
Using the metaphor that safe and consensual sex is as easy as ordering coffee, we created a comfortable and conversational space covering subjects from consent to masturbation. Here at The Grind, we believe that everyone should be empowered to make sexual choices that make them feel good!
The Audience: new college students at the University of Washington
The Location: a pop-up coffee shop on The Ave, a street near the University of Washington campus that is a major destination for food, coffee, and shopping
The Duration: September 21 – October 19, 2018; approximately the first month of school
Throughout the month that the exhibit is up, The Grind would hold weekly events that help further the education available in the space. These events include a Parent's Night, a "Treat Yourself" night discussing masturbation and sex toys, a guest speaker, and a Q&A panel of professionals. A pamphlet introducing the exhibit and these events will be sent out to the dorms to let people know about the exhibition as they are moving onto campus.
Sex should be... CONSENSUAL
Sex should be... Consensual is the first section a visitor sees as they walk in and look to the menu board to decide what drink they’d like to get.
The ordering process has been created to mimic the process of consent—consent is as easy as ordering coffee! As the visitor is waiting for their drink, there are pamphlets and flyers on the counter to pick up and look through that introduce the exhibit and advertise the events.
In addition to the in-person ordering process, visitors have the option to order through a mobile application that invokes the consent process by asking "Is this what you want?" before you check out. The app also provides resources that enhance our mission of sex education and drives traffic to the physical location and the events.
Sex should be... PROTECTED
Sex should be... Protected is located inside the bakery case that would be typically be filled with pastries. A selection of different contraceptives and barriers are on display along with information about them. This encourages people to get familiar with their options and learn more about how different methods work.
Sex should be... POSITIVE & FUN
Sex should be... Positive & Fun is located to the right of the bar on a large wood-paneled wall. The content is split into four main categories: There is Nothing to be Ashamed of, Sex is for All, Know Yourself, and Talk About It! Each of these categories addresses a different topic within sex positivity ranging from talking about various forms of sex, to masturbation, and to talking with your partner about what you like. Tying in with this content, on the shelf located on the pillar in front of this wall, are various sex toys for the visitors to learn about.
Sex should be...
Sex should be... A Choice is on the left wall in relation to the bar. The purpose of this section is to further discuss the idea of consent, especially the concept of ongoing consent and being able to say no at any point. This section also addresses the option to pursue abstinence.
Sex should be... A CONVERSATION
Sex should be... A Conversation is to the left of the coffee bar by the condiments and Choice wall. The purpose of this section is to allow visitors to ask any more questions they have about sex. To accommodate all levels of comfort surrounding this conversation, people can either post their question directly onto the wall, or place it in a jar for more privacy. All of the questions will be reviewed and answered by a professional panel at the last event of the exhibition.
In addition to the question wall, there are small tables around the space with conversation starters on them. Visitors are encouraged to talk about those topics over a cup of coffee, and there is a Sharpie available to leave a permanent record of those conversations or thoughts. Future visitors will be able to look at the tables and see how their peers felt about each topic.
Takeaways and Merchandise
While we hope that all our visitors will be taking away new knowledge and empowerment, we also created some branded t-shirts and beverage-related items to serve not only as a reminder of the message of The Grind but also a way to spread the word outside of the shop and encourage more people to stop by.
Using our branding and illustration style, posters, ads, and pamphlets have been create intrigue surrounding the exhibit and drive traffic into the space.
A major part of our branding, the illustrations for The Grind aim to be tasteful and inclusive of all bodies and sexualities. We especially wanted to represent the people that are generally underrepresented in sexual spaces, including plus-sized individuals, people of color, trans individuals, and people with disabilities.