Community-in-Residence Design Festival


Space Saloon and Designers on Holiday present DeSaturated - an interdisciplinary “community-in-residence” program inviting designers, artists and researchers to address the issue of water scarcity in the context of the Californian Cuyama Valley.


Water shapes life, yet access to this resource is neither equitable nor just. Wildfires, droughts and severe floods have strained the state of California in the last decade, pointing out the limitations of territorial development that impose market logics on scarce and fragile resources. Groundwater in the high desert is rapidly extracted, feeding industrial farms, oil wells and swimming pools, all the while risking potential contamination for its thirsty users. As the scale of infrastructure modifies the geology of the state at a pace never before seen, water poses an unprecedented epistemological challenge.


From freshwater to grey sullage, dense aquifers to dry atmospheres, DeSaturated seeks to critically investigate the degrees of hydrological concentration in the high desert. Space Saloon and Designers on Holiday are looking for artists, ecologists, social scientists, designers, civil engineers, historians, architects and story tellers to come together for one week to explore our relationship to water in all its shades and forms. How can we as a collective illuminate, explore, educate, challenge and creatively expand knowledge on this subject?



Space Saloon and Designers on Holiday are teaming up with Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama, California to hold a week long design festival with participants from across the globe. Our eight day program supports the communal creation of hands-on educational workshops and site-specific building projects that encourage collaborative, transdisciplinary learning.

Register now to take part in this unique experience. The program is open to all students and young professionals in the art, design, and architecture disciplines. Participants will engage directly with a diverse group of interdisciplinary experts, gain experience in a variety of hands-on design and construction techniques, and experience an empowering social environment with musical performances, lectures and public events.

New Cuyama, California

See below for all that's included with attending!

Register to attend and receive :

8 days of accommodation on Blue Sky's campus.

3 meals daily provided by local community vendors.

Daily interactive workshops with leading designers, architects and artists engaging in sculpture, film, digital tools and performance.

Learn how to design and build community projects with a team of international students and professionals.

Documentation by our team of photographers, videographers and editors (great for your portfolio!)

Lectures and presentations by a wide range of experts on the subject of water scarcity.

Certificate of Participation for all festival registrants.





Daily workshops will take place with artists and designers to explore experimental methodologies that engage in collaborative design processes, including sculpture, casting, film, sound, virtual reality and performance. Check out the workshops below!

Register to attend the full festival, and experience these workshops firsthand. Can't attend the full week? Each day workshop is open to the public for individual registration. Check out the application form at the bottom.


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There is a big discussion in the building industry today on concrete 3D-printing. But concrete is perhaps the least ecologically friendly material out there; it uses so much water, releases greenhouse gases, and is not biodegradable. Why then do architects continue to use concrete even when supposedly innovating with new technologies like 3D-printing? This workshop will investigate alternate methods for producing masonry assemblies with less—or potentially no—water. Instead of taking 3D-printing literally, this project addresses the material culture of 3D-printing.


Participants will experiment with the bioplastic designed for desktop 3D-printing, PLA, and learn to manipulate it in alternate ways so as to examine its potential for full scale architectural construction. Today it is sometimes recycled back into filament, as it can be re-melted down safer than most other plastics. But how else can it be reused? Of course, PLA cannot be a replacement for concrete, but as it becomes ubiquitous it warrants further exploration. In this workshop, participants will test out ways of combining PLA with natural aggregates to produce new, less water-based, architectonic materials.

Building Without Water

office ca


office ca is a design research collaborative led by Galo Canizares and Stephanie Sang Delgado. They make material things, which they smash, inflate, knock over. They write down thoughts about fictional worlds and alternate realities/timelines/futures. They research curious objects, such as software, duct tape, mylar, and bean bags. They are fascinated by the absurdities of constraints, codes (in every sense of the word), and histories of architecture. Through the act of designing and making, office ca strives to continue a dialogue about physical/virtual realities, distant memories, and weird hallucinations.



How to Blend In

Folly Feast Lab

FollyFeastLab is an experimental design studio based in Los Angeles, co-founded by Yara Feghali and Viviane El-Kmati. FollyFeastLab creates visually-led immersive and interactive experiences to address present social and urban themes.


Viviane is a Lebanese narrative designer and creative technologist who works at the intersection of design, technology and speculative fiction. With her background in architecture and worldbuilding, her work imagines and prototypes the future of urban spaces using new media and storytelling techniques. Viviane’s broader research interest focuses on the role of artificial intelligence in designing future cities and its cultural significance.


Yara is a Lebanese architect licensed in Beirut, and a lecturer at University of California, Los Angeles Architecture and Urban Design UCLA A.UD teaching design and research studio at the graduate level. Before that, she taught at the Städelchule Architecture Class (SAC) in Germany design studios, visual studies, and seminars at the postgraduate level. Her research work interrogates the territories of architectural education core curriculum, and speculates on the role of emerging technologies in designing our cities using new media and storytelling techniques.

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How To Blend In is a fieldwork workshop studying water’s traveling distance from neighboring water points to Cuyama Valley. A major cause of economic water scarcity is due to the lack of water infrastructure. One major infrastructural problem is how to constantly access water from nearby sources. In order to address the problem, the workshop wants to digitally carry adjacent water sources to the Cuyama Valley. 


Workshop participants will catalog nearby reservoir elements on Blue Sky Center's land, three-dimensionally scan them with the use of drones, and then transport them digitally on site in Cuyama Valley.


How To Blend In constructs a seamless landscape in which these virtual reservoir elements are now part of Cuyama Valley. The seamless landscape will be visible through an Augmented Reality Application with the help of visual markers scattered throughout the town of New Cuyama. 




Collective Desiccation

Lauren MacDonald

Lauren MacDonald is a multidisciplinary artist and designer. Her approach and aesthetic have been tempered through academic studies in Material Culture and Textile Science, vocational experience in the London Fashion Industry, and an ongoing obsession with materiality, form, and functionality. Her practice is textile focussed and spans interaction design, installation, sculpture and two-dimensional stitched forms.

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This workshop will focus on the materiality of the desert, encourage tacit knowledge, and raise participant awareness of the history of the New Cuyama region while reflecting on participant impact on the site and its hydrological profile. 


The workshop will be split into two components. The morning will be spent exploring the physical aspects of the site and collecting material — sand, pebbles, bones, leaves. In the afternoon, the materials will be ground, chopped or sieved, mixed with Jesmonite and cast into vessels. These vessels hold potential; they query linking the physical landscape to the craft process and the colonial implications of the activity itself. They will be imbibed with colour and texture from New Cuyama, explicitly specific and saturated by the site. They offer a starting point to question our relationship with water situated in a hyperlocal landscape — fragile, embodied and challenging.

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Definitely Not Architecture

Definitely Not Architecture (DNA) is a collective who have a love/hate relationship with the field of architecture. They are enamored with the field’s capacity to stoke imagination, resourcefulness, teamwork, and change. They are appalled by the field’s esoteric ideas, untenable practices, and systemic elitism. DNA aims to challenge architecture’s toxic modes of practice with an architecture that is culturally relevant, socially sustainable, and environmentally sensitive. They favor simple solutions over complex concepts. They favor architectural ideas that anyone can understand. They assert that architecture takes itself too seriously and should be more fun, funny, goofy, awkward, weird and accessible. They are Definitely Not Architecture.

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What is there to do in the desert once all of the groundwater has been used? One could imagine the majority of the time would be spent waiting for water. In anticipation, residents of Cuyama Valley would deploy various rituals, old and new, to cope with the dry spell.


This workshop identifies the desaturated bed of the Cuyama River as a future regional site of anticipation. In the period following agricultural exploitation of the Cuyama Valley aquifer system, this anticipation will take on an existential urgency. Under these theoretical conditions, this workshop imagines the apparition of a type of object in the landscape that will undertake the emotional labor of waiting for rain. These objects will pepper the basin, deploying techniques scientific and otherwise (measuring atmospheric conditions, casting spells, marking past water levels, repeating prayers) in anticipation of rain. Participants will create site specific objects that represent past, present, and future water conditions.







Brooke Holm is a photographer whose practice traverses the unique and complex bonds humans form with the natural environment. Her work explores ideas of our impact on the world, and the world's impact on us, by revering the sublime elements of Nature, and in turn examining the human context within that environment. With concern for the fragility of our planet, her work focuses on locations that are significant within the global context of climate change.


Deborah Garcia is a 2018 SPACECAMP graduate. Her background is in spatial maneuvers and digital speculation techniques. She holds a particular set of skills that makes her adept in the manipulation of materials, textures, and temperatures. She was disqualified from the NASA training program due to failure to meet program’s minimum height requirement. NNASA has no height restrictions. She has curated THE DRAWING SHOW at the A+D Museum and One Night Stand LA.

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SPACECAMP2020: NO DIVING is a performative installation. Staged in the tradition of the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), the installation team will be building a temporary structure called THE HOCKNEY, while simultaneously - and throughout the building process itself - will be performing a space-crew drama of Kardashian proportions. Filmed inside BASE CAMP in the style of reality-TV, complete with hidden cameras and confessionals, the SPACE CAMP crew will set about building THE HOCKNEY while slowly unfolding the story of a space mission gone wrong. (Their downfall comes at the hands of losing all their water.) Each TRAINEE will be equipped with a UNIFORM, a PERSONAL SURVIVAL KIT, and a TOOL SET. They will then set about installing THE HOCKNEY, which at the end of the performance, all participants and audience members will be encouraged to interact with / play on / lounge upon.

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The Sound of Rain

Daniele Frazier

Daniele Frazier is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Originally from Mill Valley, California, she graduated in 2007 from the Cooper Union School of Art where she received the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Trust Award. Daniele has created five public artworks and maintains a studio where she makes sculptures and drawings. Her process intersects her interest in formal aesthetics with a research-based and socially-engaged practice. She focuses on themes of ecology, climate change, natural history, art history, and social critique. Daniele’s work humorously addresses the politics inherent to public art itself such as gender inequality, the difference between public and private space, and the definition of ownership.


Daniele has worked extensively with the NYC Parks Department and her work will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at the Queens Museum about stewardship. She also teaches community art workshops that relate to the themes addressed by her public artworks.

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Rain sticks are musical instruments that have been used by various cultures for thousands of years. They are used during draughts to summon water by emulating the sound of rain. Rain sticks are hollow tubes, traditionally made of dried cacti, that contain cactus spines and granular material like sand and rocks. When turned upside-down, the falling material inside makes an unmistakable sound of rain.


In this workshop, participants will make their own rain sticks using a combination of modern materials and items collected from the landscape. Participants will experiment in making different geometric shapes of rain sticks in an attempt to create instruments that can generate continuous “looped” sound. Part of the workshop will be dedicated to making field recordings of the instruments and the New Cuyama Valley using audio equipment. The final product will be an audio/visual meditation on the desaturated land achieved by combining real video and our simulated rain.

Special Projects

Throughout the week there will be several special building projects and artist installations. Participants to the full festival will get to work first hand with professional architects to design and build a series of community pavilions themed around the idea of water and bathing.


The projects are collaborative in nature; everyone will have a role in shaping the outcome of the builds. Experts in construction and fabrication will be on hand to teach participants valuable skills in woodworking, metal welding and various other forms of hands-on building. Join now to take part!

Public Events

Join us for lectures, musical performances, and our closing exhibition, where you can see all the results of the weeklong festival on display.


Pecha Kucha presentations by Workshop Leaders

Join us as we hear from each of our six workshop teams. Presentations will be pecha kucha style - 10 slides and 10 minutes - and will introduce the subjects and themes of their individual workshops and practices.


Lecture by Casey Walsh,

Professor of Anthropology, University of California Santa Barbera

Casey Walsh is a sociocultural anthropologist whose research centers on water.  He addresses two major questions. First, he explores the ways that humans have used and managed water for agriculture, and the kinds of societies that emerge in the context of irrigation. An earlier project on irrigated cotton agriculture in the Mexico-US borderlands resulted in the book Building the Borderlands (Texas A&M Press, 2008), and he is currently conducting research on groundwater in Central California.  Second, Walsh asks about the everyday interactions humans have with multiple and heterogenous waters, such as swimming, bathing and drinking.  His second book, Virtuous Waters (University of California Press, 2018) explores the long, 500-year history of bathing and drinking in Mexico. 


Exhibition Opening

Our final night day of the festival will feature tours of completed building projects, final workshop presentations, and a special musical performance. Come early and stay the night! All public events are available for overnight accommodation.


February 15

Workshops announced, call for participation open

Festival Opening

Festival dates will be announced via our newsletter - sign up at the bottom!

Public Weekend #1

Site tours with workshop leaders
Tool training tutorials
Public lecture


Daily workshops
Building projects

Public Weekend #2

Public opening
Tours of building projects
Exhibition of workshop results
Special musical performance


The Festival

Space Saloon and Designers on Holiday have mutually held collective design festivals over the past 6 years, engaging international participants in design-build projects, field research and craft led workshops. Their week-long events have focused on experimental, collaborative and environmentally focused projects that celebrate the energy and knowledge produced through their interdisciplinary settings.

Both groups will team up to host and curate a new “community-in-residence” festival at a new location at Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama, California, located approximately two hours north of Los Angeles.


Daily creative and scientific workshops will be conducted with a range of workshop leaders, while larger building projects will take place with invited architects and designers during the course of the week. Participants, ranging from university students, young professionals and local community members, will live and work together to learn essential skills in designing and making. Public lectures and events will be held throughout the week, opening up participants to a wide variety of ideas all focused on the theme DeSaturated.

Space Saloon

Space Saloon is a design laboratory on the move. We explore the potentials of site by crafting collaborative hands-on experiences. Our pedagogical projects build communities, promote tolerance, and foster engagement through the production of transdisciplinary forms of knowledge.


Space Saloon is a non-profit organization founded by Danny Wills and Gian Maria Socci. We are a collective of architects, artists, and researchers who work with students in exploring new frontiers for design education. Our events provide a supporting platform for both professional architects as well as young developing designers to realize site-specific projects.

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Designers on Holiday

Designers on Holiday was started in 2014 by designers Tom Gottelier and Bobby Petersen. An excuse to bring together creatives from different practices that they admired and develop a hub for experimental, modern and sustainable design. During 2017 private commissions started to come in and DOH Studio was formed as a platform to showcase the philosophies developed during the camp.


The campsite acts as a hub for creative activities of all shapes and sizes. Designers are encouraged to collaborate, share and teach one another tricks of their trade. The permanent location of DOH is 15 Acres site on the Swedish Island of Gotland. A mixture of limestone bedrock and dense juniper bushes. The site is a source of inspiration for the holiday makers who attend the annual camp. Over the past 6 years designers from different disciplines and countries have built a wide array of essential amenities from hot tubs and saunas to cabins and outdoor kitchens.

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Blue Sky Center

Blue Sky Center is a rural, place-based nonprofit organization with the mission to strengthen rural communities within the Cuyama Valley by supporting entrepreneurs and building regional creative and economic resources.


Blue Sky Center will host Space Saloon and Designers on Holiday as their curators in residence for the DeSaturated festival.

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Blue Sky Center

New Cuyama, California

Just two hours from Los Angeles, Blue Sky Center is nestled between the Sierra Madre and Caliente mountain ranges in the high desert of California's Central Coast. New Cuyama, a small rural town of approximately 560 residents, boasts wide vistas, starry skies, expansive lands, and quiet ambiance.


Participants to the DeSaturated festival will live and work on site at Blue Sky Center. Dispersed camping and indoor shared bunk rooms are open to guests. Indoor and outdoor restrooms and shower facilities are scattered through the site, and guests are free to use the shared cantina space for relaxing.

All meals during the festival will be provided by New Cuyama's local community members. Blue Sky Center's central mission is in building a more resilient foundation for a thriving rural economy that can contribute to a diverse regional foodshed. Your contribution to the festival goes directly to supporting the local economy.


Blue Sky Center's campus is full of workshop spaces for working on projects, as well as large classroom spaces for group activities. Lecture spaces and exhibition halls for presentation are also scattered throughout the site. At night, the camp comes together over a bonfire, musical events and leisure activities.

The town of New Cuyama boasts a large restaurant and bar, sports fields and a community swimming pool, among other activities. Come early or stay late and enjoy the region's recreational parks, national monument sites, wine tasting tours and horseback riding adventures.


The above photographs are by Madison Kotak and Jesus Frayre, provided by Blue Sky Center.

Let us know you're interested in getting involved!

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the DeSaturated festival is postponed until it is determined safe for our community. Please sign up for updates to be the first to know about new dates and ways of participating. 

Reach out to us by filling out the form below!