Ponce de Leon Avenue stands today as a physical testimony of a point of tension Atlanta knew well after the Civil War: segregation. This important street once separated two completely different racial and socio-economic demographics; and even though this separation has become blurrier over time, it is still visible in some parts. Intersections such as Boulevard and Monroe Dr serve as reminders of a spatial boundary that once segregated affluent white neighborhoods in the north from lower-income black neighborhoods in the south. The name change of the street speaks for itself.

Tension (of other kinds) are still present today in our city and in our world. Cultural, social, political, racial, religious, artistic, and philosophical tensions between us and others surround our everyday, though unspoken most of the time.

Tension is often seen as a thing to avoid, a thing to hide; yet it is precisely in the synergy created by two opposite forces pulling apart where an opportunity for action can arise. It is in the midst of tension where honest political and social discourse is needed and where art should have a voice. It is in the midst of tension where creative thinking thrives.

Gavin Bernard is an interior and product designer, and a large-scale installation artist. Native of Great Britain, who has called Atlanta home for the past seventeen years, he is the co-owner of the interior design firm Grafite.

Grafite has designed interior spaces for Octane, Sparrowhawk, Aviary Salon, among others. Gavin is also partner of Wake Up Dear, an Atlanta-based design group which created “ODO”, an intricately woven pendant light that creates geometric patterns of light and shadow. He designed and installed the art experience for WonderFarm 2014 at Krog Street Market and has worked in other creative installations in the Atlanta area.

Jessica Flórez Gómez is an urban designer and a social entrepreneur who grew up in Colombia (South America) where she graduated from the National University of Colombia in 2000 with a Bachelors in Architecture. She moved to Atlanta in 2001 where she has worked in various architectural, interior design, and environmental graphic design firms. In 2005, she founded a non-profit organization for abused and trafficked Hispanic women in Atlanta. In 2012, Jessica obtained a Master of Science in Urban Design from Georgia Tech and is working as an urban designer at Lord Aeck Sargent.

Jessica is a strategic thinker with extensive experience working in and managing complex projects to ensure their execution in a timely matter. She has participated in various international urban design workshops in Seoul, Shanghai, Berlin, and San Juan. She also led a team that won a first honorable mention in a national urban design competition sponsored by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in 2012. Jessica thinks of design as a powerful tool for social change and is committed to continue exploring ways in which this symbiosis can affect urban settings.