Salon Prototype Night: A Cardboard Proof-of-Concept

In July our Long Now Salon project passed the halfway point of fundraising, thanks to $25,000 gifts from Neil Gaiman and Cordelia Corp, and more than 200 other donations at levels big and small. The Salon will host small events both for our members and the general public. It will be equal parts library, bar, museum, and cafe. A welcoming and social place, where you’d want to go to have a great conversation.

Reaching $250,000 in funding allowed us to begin construction. And the first step of construction is destruction…

Long Now has been headquartered in this space for the last 7 years. So it was strange to see it so empty:

So empty. Too empty. And since we love to prototype at Long Now we had to prototype our Salon. The bar, the booths, even bottles in the ceiling and signs on the wall. It would help us confirm that we had the design right, and we figured we could do the whole thing in a night, with enough help and a lot of cardboard.

We invited all our Salon donors (whether $10 or $25,000) to join our cardboard building party. 50 or so fantastic members, staff and friends gathered, and here’s how the evening went:

Building the Long Now Salon in cardboard from The Long Now Foundation on Vimeo.

You’ve seen the Salon design images that show our design team’s fantastic plans in incredible, lifelike detail. But just as a physical cardboard version reveals the facts of the layout in real space (not bits), seeing actual people in the space instead of the shadow figures of the illustrations helps confirm what a great space this will be to gather in!

photos by Catherine Borgeson

If you are reading this and you were there that day, thanks again for all the hard work. This video shows you the focused activity going on as we worked on every area of the build simultaneously:

video by Mikl Em

So after all that work (and fun), what’s the verdict? Pretty good! No major issues or surprises; just a few minor adjustments and some food for thought. And most excitingly, our first real event in the proto-Salon space. A gathering of long-term thinkers building and learning: an auspicious debut for exactly what our Salon space is all about.

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What is the long now?

The Long Now Foundation is a nonprofit established in 01996 to foster long-term thinking. Our work encourages imagination at the timescale of civilization — the next and last 10,000 years — a timespan we call the long now.

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