Funded! This project was successfully funded on September 21, 2011.


Help our group exhibition of speculative work about border towns attend the Detroit Design Festival in September.

Update – Fully Funded!

Thanks to our backers, we have reached our goal. Thank you for your support and thank you to everyone who tweeted/posted/emailed their friends about us. If you are in Detroit, come say "hi" at the opening on September 21st.

We still need your support.

Reaching the goal means that we can afford to bring the work to Detroit along with everyone from the studio who is available. We want to go further. Every artist has spent hundreds of dollars prototyping and producing their work. Every dollar that you give helps cover their costs. 

Besides, we have lots of great rewards to give out.

About the Project

We’re the Border Town design studio, a group of artists, architects and designers.

Over the course of the summer, we’ve been meeting once a week at Site 3, a coLaboratory in Toronto, to think and design about bordertowns, divided cities, and cities in conflict zones.

We’ve talked about tightly integrated border towns like Baarle Hertog and Baarle Nassau (You can switch countries by switching tables!) and sharply divided cities like Cold War Berlin (It wasn’t so much a wall as a a complex network of sensors, traps, watchtowers, raked gravel, and strategically reinforced concrete slabs.).

We’ve looked at communities caught between borders, serving travellers as they wait out a Visa renewal period and at cities in the middle of a country that are international ports for logistical convenience. We’ve looked at crossings built when there was one kind of security regime, struggling to adapt to a new one.

We’ve looked at walls, gates, identity databases, surveillance drones, smuggling tunnels, GPS systems, border-shifting rivers, auto-turrets, and cross-border speaker systems.

We’ve had a half-dozen guest speakers and a team of foreign correspondents reporting from all over the world. We even took a field trip to Niagara Falls.

The projects that we’re making include:

  • a soundscape about crossing the border
  • a transforming garment
  • a museum retrospective of a never-built border town
  • a colouring book for border town residents
  • short stories
  • critical cartography
  • a surveillance object
  • a board game about smuggling

We’ve been invited to display our work at the Detroit Design Festival in September. It'll be an exhibition about border towns, held in a border town.

We need your help.

We need to get our materials to Detroit and we want to reimburse everyone for their costs. So far everything that we’ve done has come out of pocket. We’d like to be able to bring everyone who worked on the project to the opening night.

In return, we’ve got prints, we’ve got models, we’ve got books, we’ve got games.

We’re so proud of the work that everyone’s done. Help us show it to the world.

Tim & Emily ~Border Town Leaders


  • The first and most important thing is transporting the projects to Detroit in time for the Festival. We will be renting a vehicle or two and driving it all down from Toronto to hang it at the gallery.

    The second is to help defray the cost of the artists who want to come to Detroit. There are 13 people in the studio. Most of us are based in Toronto (Albert is in Buffalo and Lea is in Pittsburg), so we need to get there and back and we need places to stay and food to eat while we are there.

    The third is to help defray the costs of materials for the projects. Everything that's being made has required prototyping processes, and the final projects are going to be as high quality as possible. That's meant 3d printing, regular printing, buying electronics, fabrics etc.

    If we can, we'd like to also help defray the costs of running the studio. We rented (at a generous discount) space for the duration of the studio, we provided refreshments for our wonderful guest speakers, we paid for the field trip to Niagara Falls with several guided tours, and we bought research material and working materials to run the sessions.

    Of course, there will also be the cost of the raw materials for making the rewards.

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  • The final form of the project is a gallery show displaying a range of speculative work about border towns.

    Of the 11 full time participants, we have one team of 3 and then 8 individual projects to display. Several of our foreign correspondents are also making work. We expect that the final show will have 12 pieces total. All of it is designed for display in the gallery space and the bulk of it involves work of speculative design.

    We've listed a sampling of projects above to give you a sense of the scope and range of work. Keep an eye on our updates, as we'll be posting WIP images over the course of the next 2 weeks.

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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    Every little bit helps. This is the long tail area, and we'll put your contribution to good use. You'll get access to backer's updates and perhaps you can help us spread the word?

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  • Pledge $7 or more
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    4 backers

    The DIGITAL PARTY PACK. Jay is making a colouring book about life on the border. David is making a game called Contraband where smugglers face off against border guards. Give us your $7 and we'll send you PDFs of both of these. You can print them off and enjoy them with friends.

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    8 backers

    Niagara Falls ALTERNATE HISTORY NEWSPAPER. A lot of people have had utopian visions for cities that relied on the INFINITE POWER of Niagara Falls. Albert's project is a retrospective that examines what history would have been like if one of them had been built. For $10 we'll send you 4 front pages from the newspaper of a hypothetical place, printed on newsprint. Also, you get the DIGITAL PARTY PACK.

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    8 backers

    5 BORDER TOWN BUTTONS. Lea has designed 5 stylized maps of famous border towns. You can see them over there on the left. We'll put them on 1.5" buttons and send them to you and you can be popular at parties (assuming you go to the kind of parties where clever cartographic design makes you popular). Plus, we'll send you the NEWSPAPER and the DIGITAL PARTY PACK

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    26 backers

    PRINT PARTY PACK. Greg, Cyrus and Jordan are exploring the emotional dynamics of border towns with micro-fictions told through photos and text. We will send you selections from their project compressed down to post-card size along with the NEWSPAPER, BUTTONS. Not to mention the DIGITAL PARTY PACK.

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  • Pledge $60 or more
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    9 backers Limited (6 left of 15)

    THE BOARD GAME. David's game is called Contraband. It features a tense game of cat and mouse as smugglers try to sneak contraband across the border under the noses of border guards. It features custom cards and a custom board. We will send you a complete physical copy of the game.

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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    SNOW GLOBE. Albert's retrospective of the hypothetical utopia at Niagara Falls isn't just a bunch of newspapers. It will also feature fictional tourist kitsch. Get ready for a custom snow globe, featuring 3-D printed models of the Niagara imagined by King Gillette (yeah, THAT Gillette) at the turn of the 20th century. we'll also include the DIGITAL PARTY PACK and the PRINT PARTY PACK. International backers, please add a little extra to help with shipping.

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  • Pledge $100 or more
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    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    Greg, Jordan and Cyrus' Microfictions project includes many original photographs taken around the world, some modified with text and some without. If you choose this level, you will receive a beautiful 12"x18" print of one of these photos (to be chosen by the backer from a list of options). Plus, you will get the DIGITAL PARTY PACK and - naturally - the PRINT PARTY PACK.

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    4 backers All gone!

    CUSTOM SKIRT. Lea will make you a custom wrap skirt which will feature a design based on the intricate borders of Baarle Hertog/Baarle Nassau, screen printed by hand. Of course, we will also send you the DIGITAL PARTY PACK.

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  • Pledge $300 or more
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    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    SNOW GLOBE MUSIC BOX. Along with the other alternate-Niagara Falls tourist kitsch, Albert has also produced a music box version, on a solid wood base. We will send you a custom made snowglobe music box featuring a 3d-printed models of Gillette's planned Falls utopia. Also, the DIGITAL PARTY PACK and PRINT PARTY PACK. International backers, please add a little extra to help with shipping.

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  • Pledge $1,500 or more
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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    DINNER IN DETROIT. We will have dinner with you at a restaurant of your choosing in Detroit on the night of the opening, September 21st. Later on, we'll send you THE BOARD GAME, a PRINT PARTY PACK and a DIGITAL PARTY PACK

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Funding period

- (15 days)