DSGN AGNC’s work has been featured at the Venice Biennale, Harvard University, Cornell University, New York’s Center for Architecture, The Van Alen Institute, Parsons The Newschool for Design, The Queens Museum of Art, The Austrian Cultural Forum, Boston Society of Architects.


DSGN AGNC (Design Agency) is a design and art studio exploring cooperative processes for new social and spatial forms

DSGN AGNC believes that a radical pluralistic democracy can only come about through collaborations, cooperatives and co-creations. We put together teams of designers and artists for each project and lead collaborative processes. We work closely with community stakeholders. We design spaces that are open-ended, adaptable, flexible and can change over time — encouraging negotiations, conversations and acts of community- making. We design to learn.

DSGN AGNC arises, in part, from a concern about the state and level of investment in PUBLIC goods, services, structures and spaces. Our design is driven by asking how to create public spaces — such as housing, plazas, parks, and institutions — that can compliment robust democratic processes. We design to share. 

DSGN AGNC has been exploring how a critical architectural and design approach can operate in this context. We never start a project with a product in mind, meaning that we let the engagement and research process lead us to the right mode of response to any given question or situation. We are as likely to create a map that visualizes an injustice as we are to design built structures that encourage collaboration. We design to learn. 

DSGN AGNC is rooted in a methodology that uses engagement and critical discourse to open up possibilities for change in the processes by which architecture and cities are made. This process also postulates that no product is ever final — designs, buildings, ecologies and urban systems demand broad and holistic community-based processes that can change over time with both constants and variables. We design to change.

DSGN AGNC seeks to help understand historic injustices and imagine a future in which our built environment serves as a platform for a more pluralistic society. We design to build new worlds.

Through our projects we have learned the value of:


Working without distinctions of whether something is art, architecture, ecologies, urbanism, or…


Every project begins by listening to local stories. Stories give clues on what needs to be designed…


Begin a project by mapping out and revealing the spatial, social and policy conflicts that a community faces and then help create collective agendas with a set of strategies and tactics that can create broad-based coalitions of different stakeholders — leveraging local and political support.


Don’t impose. Let design ideas arise from the contexts you are working within. Design can be more effective if it arises from a process and takes into consideration local conditions.

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DSGN AGNC is a research and design studio founded in 2009 as a platform to experiment with forms of political engagement by Quilian Riano (DSGN AGNC Principal).

We work in a transdisciplinary and collaborative manner with many groups and individuals, including:

#lgnlgn | 596 Acres | ACFNY | The Architecture Lobby | BRUNO | Boston Society Of Architects | CAAAV | Casas De La Esperanza | The Center for Architecture (NYC) | Change Administration | City of Facatativa | Corona Self-help Group | Corporación Cultural Nuestra Gente | Cultivate South Phoenix | The Desert Botanical Garden | Design Corps | Design Trust for Public Space | Estudio Teddy Cruz | Fundación Promujer | Grupo La Mision | Harvard University, Graduate School Of Design | Housing Association ‘la Union’ | Immigrant Movement International | The Institute for Public Architecture | The Institute For Urban Design | The J. Max Bond Jr. Center for the Just City | Java St. Garden Collaborative | The Knight Foundation | lowDO | McDonough Museum of Art (YSU) | Michael Sorkin Studio | The National Park Service | NYC Department of Transportation | Next City | No Space | Not An Alternative | Park Foundation | Parsons The New School for Design | The Public School (NYC) | Queens College | Queens Economic Development Company | Queens Museum Of Art | Social Practice Queens | The Storefront For Art And Architecture | Teatro Marinoni | Urbano Activo | URBAM EAFIT | Urban Tricksters | The Van Alen Institute | The Venice Biennale | Wochenklausur | Youngstown State University

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