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Fostering slow conversation

Encouraging casual community-wide conversation and collaboration through programming and space innovation.


Members of the Olin College of Engineering community were frustrated that the campus lacked a place where faculty, staff, and students could all feel comfortable and engage in casual conversations.

Project approach

Conversations with Olin faculty and staff suggested that a coffeeshop setting might provide a conducive environment for conversation, collaboration, and co-exisiting while working independently. Two peers and I took on the challenge of designing and launching a pop-up coffeeshop, The Acronym, in collaboration with an Olin staff member.



We identified a largely unused space on Olin’s campus, the entry of the main administrative building, as an ideal location for our experiement. The unoccupied front desk became our work station, and furniture borrowed from the campus library created spaces for people to gather. We played mellow music to set the ambiance in the open atrium.

We drew upon the coffee and tea expertise of community members to build our menu and procedures, and the pottery skills of a professor to supply the pop-up with ceramic mugs.

We chose to serve pour-over coffee and loose-leaf tea: intentionally slow beverages that left space for conversation between community members.