Derek Scacchetti is a designer living on the second floor of Tailor Shop, an Italianate-style Kunsthous that harkens back to the 1870s. I caught up with Derek to talk about design, urban planning, historic preservation, and his latest adventure, Urban Rangers.
Derek is a Cincinnati transplant from Youngstown, Ohio. Derek’s move to Cincinnati was spurred by his acceptance into the Urban Planning program at the School of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning (DAAP) at the University of Cincinnati.
DAAP was Derek’s first real taste of what the design world is like. He quickly found that his passions lie not only in design, but in the way cities are built and how residents interact with the built environment. This passion has fueled a number of projects and organizations that Derek has dedicated his time to. One of the first major projects Derek took on after graduation was a complete redesign of the Coffee Emporium brand.
“When I was trying to figure out what to do as far as design goes, I was working at Coffee Emporium as a manager and I was given the opportunity to do their rebrand, just as an employee working there. That was a really fun growing experience for me. I really loved working on that project because I was fresh out of school and had no idea how to navigate it. It was fun to figure out how to pull my boot straps up to learn the process of design.”
Derek’s rebrand of the Coffee Emporium included everything from logo design, to package design, to maintaining a consistent brand identity in all visual forms for their brick and mortar locations.
I asked Derek to tell me about a project that he has worked on recently that has felt powerful and engaging to him. He replied, “I worked on an exhibit for the Over-the-Rhine Museum last year called Stories of Over-the-Rhine, which will be an evolving exhibit that I may jump into again in the future. It’s showcasing different things that happened in the neighborhood and different people’s perspectives of the neighborhood. It’s a rotating exhibit. It’s been to Findlay Market, Bockfest, and the Globe Building, just to name a few.”
Stories of Over-the-Rhine focuses on aspects of tenement life over many years for residents who worked and lived in Over-the-Rhine. The exhibit invites viewers to experience life as a resident during different time periods and through a diverse set of backgrounds. “It’s the first time I’ve ever done an interactive museum exhibit,” said Derek. “I really liked it because it unveils a lot of things people don’t really know about Cincinnati. A lot of people think that German heritage is really important in the area, and it is, but there’s so many more layers to the stories. Which is one of the reasons why I love John and Alyssa’s [of Kunsthous] building projects—because they unveil stories throughout the building preservation process, which is really nice.”
As a lover of buildings, preservation, and stories, it’s easy to see why Derek became heavily involved with the Cincinnati Preservation Collective (CPC). CPC is an organization that “aims to be positive and proactive stewards of Cincinnati’s historic infrastructure.”
I asked Derek why he believes the work that CPC is doing is necessary for the city of Cincinnati. Why should we care about old buildings? “It’s part of our cultural heritage. I think it’s really important to preserve old buildings because it’s part of the story of Cincinnati. They were built to test time. They weren’t built to be used for twenty years, then torn down. A building like the Dennison, for instance, is interesting because it didn’t only have one life. It had so many things happen there throughout time. It was an industrial space. It was a hotel. It was an apartment building. So many things have happened there. There is a lot you can reveal about a city and a specific time period and types of people if you preserve that building and preserve it well.”
Derek also points out that you can tell a lot about a city by what it chooses to save, protect, and build. There’s also sustainability and cost benefits to preserving buildings. Thanks to CPC, if you’re looking for a laugh, as well as a way to spark discussion about preservation, watch and share their video, “Torn Down for What.”
Preservation is obviously a large part of Derek’s life, but so is pedestrianism. With both in mind, he started Urban Rangers. “Urban Rangers is my way to create a call of action to advocate for pedestrianism and equalized use of public space in our city. We bring people together to explore the urban environment. We advocate for pedestrians, community connections, and spaces that lie between buildings.” Urban Rangers has created a series of hikes—often that are miles long and take you through different neighborhoods—in order to experience different spaces on foot. Derek has already led one that explored Cincinnati’s relationship to water; another was a scavenger hunt on Main Street. Each hike has its own name, like “Through the Cut in the Hill” and “Chutes and Ladders.” When I asked the why behind Urban Rangers, Derek said, “I’d like to bring to light that neighborhoods are really different from one another and each place has value—show that diversity and protect it.”
As fellow preservationists, story lovers, and Cincinnati fanatics, we’re pretty pumped to have Derek Scacchetti as a member of Kunsthous. Follow Derek’s projects at the following links: