Put a Bird in It—Featured Maker, Second Story

Second Story is an innovation center pioneering new interactive experiences. They push the boundaries of storytelling for brands and institutions across digital channels—web, mobile, and installations—empowering audiences to connect and share.

The agency has been a pillar of the Portland creative community for almost twenty years, and we are thrilled to see their vision take form as one of our Put a Bird In It birdhouses for WeMake Celebrates.

We recently caught up with experience designer, Joe Carolino and the Second Story team to find out what they’ve been working on.

What attracted you to this project? 

We were excited to collaborate on something with so few constraints that enabled us to both connect with Portland’s creative community at large and benefit a cause we all believe in.

What are your sources of inspiration for this project? 

We found inspiration in a wide variety of things, from puppetry to contemporary birding books, anatomical charts to mythology, past projects to current ones.

How is your birdhouse coming along? 

We’ve had a great time with this project. Members of our studio’s technology, content, and design teams all took part, each contributing something unique to the process. We had a lot of fun concepting and prototyping together, and we’re excited about the final product!

If there is a theme, please tell us about it. 

Our final concept was influenced by the form and function of a cabinet of curiosities, a precursor to museums that contained an assortment of objects and specimens intended to inspire wonder. As creators of interactive media, we live for moments of discovery, surprise, awe, and amazement, so the concept of the cabinet really resonates with us.

The collections the cabinets displayed were sometimes found in nature but sometimes completely fabricated, toeing the line between fact and fiction, truth and storytelling. We play with this idea quite a bit in our work (see our Vault of the Secret Formula project, for example), and we wanted to bring that playful spirit into the birdhouse.

The end result is a fun and whimsical showcase of imaginary avian creatures, each with their own tale to tell. An accompanying microsite will offer additional information about the weird and wonderful creatures we dreamed up.  

What has it been like working with a 3D object vs. a more traditional digital design or illustration?

It was pretty comfortable for us, actually, since our digital work often has a physical component. 

Put a Bird In It is raising funds to support art and music in Portland’s public schools. What was your art + music experience like when you were a kid? 

We’re a studio full of visual artists, tinkerers, musicians, builders, filmmakers, and writers– suffice it to say, we were all heavily influenced by arts education when we were kids

Why do you think are art and music important for children?

Pragmatism is such an important part of adulthood that it’s easy to lose sight of what our brains are really capable of. Arts education teaches us early on how to think imaginatively, how to see beauty in everything, how to hear music everywhere. Those lessons are the ones we can benefit most from carrying into our professional lives. 

Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” We think that’s exactly right.