A system of charity thrift stores in Santiago, Chile helps fund free treatment for burned children. This system helped their good work go further.


( 2018​ )

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14 week project including:

On Site Research

Systematic Design

Environmental Design

Media Strategy

Social Innovation

Project partners:

Naia Simon & Yixuan Liu

Sponsored by:

The COANIQUEM Foundation

How can charity thrift culture help a nonprofit grow?

Todos por los niños.

(All for the kids.)

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Thousands of burned Latin American children are treated at  COANIQUEM's clinics - for free. They are also a pioneer of recycling services in the community.


Now, they are opening Chile's first chain of thrift stores, run almost entirely by volunteers, to help support their mission to protect Chile's future.

A COANIQUEM patient, Martina, got a kick out of our goofy paper dolls.


Thrift culture is just developing across Chile, and COANIQUEM wants to be the first example by launching not one -  but up to 8 stores in the first year. Our challenge (as a group of 12) is to help them grow and grow quickly!


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Research in Chile.

We spent 2 weeks in Chile with the director of the stores, Jorge Rojas Goldsack, living at the treatment center and volunteering at the stores. We took a deep dive into their world to truly understand their mission.

Our "Systems team"

Yixuan: Brains behind the camera (left)

Mat: Prototyping wizard (middle)

Me: Detective socialite (right)

[The takeaway ]


Volunteers make it all possible.

Our team agreed day one in Chile that we wanted to work together on building systems that promote the volunteers here. Without them, the company could never be successful. 


COANIQUEM red  is our driving concept. It recognizes the roles of each volunteer as a critical part of the network. Our goal is to put them first.

COANIQUEM volunteers shown across the whole foundation.

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Research in Los Angeles.


We went everywhere.

We had to see what makes the big thrift chains in the US successful. How do you receive donations? Hire people? Operate the store?


Staying connected.

Codesign is key!

We kept in touch with our CQ family every step of the way as

they began prototyping our ideas.

Power in prototyping.

We built scale models of the stores to test our ideas constantly. Eventually, we built a full scale sorting room to understand working ergonomics and the manufacturing process. 

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[The driving idea ]

Recognizing the efforts of many.

COANIQUEM red takes into great consideration the needs of all volunteers involved with the new stores. The comprehensive system follows the donation process from start to finish to match their needs with needs of a growing business. 

We addressed scalability, human factors, and messaging to inform our strategies.


A new centralized sorting room designed around the volunteer's needs.


Volunteer support.

Ergonomic and social considerations keep people happy within the system.


Room to grow.

Scalability addresses different needs of each unique space currently & for the future.


Unique voice.

Media outreach creates

an image and tone the resonates with public.


Volunteer Support.


The volunteers need unique design considerations to be able to work comfortably. The people we met were predominantly retired women. We wanted to make a space that fit them and made their tasks much easier.

Sorting, pricing, transporting were all tough for these people. 

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A seat at the table.


This sorting table had a long design journey. The final concept is an ergonomic and functional centerpiece for the sorting room. The materials and construction were thoughtful in their cost and sustainability. The layout answers a need to work centrally for effective communication.


The right tools.

There were lots of processes that took up a lot of time and effort for the volunteers. Sizing and transport were two areas we wanted to improve. 


Room to grow.

Everything we implement needs to keep in mind that it has to be scaled to fit. We never know what kind of space we might get in a new store! Our fixtures can be scaled from micro to macro.


Macro sorting room.

We want to expand to larger industrial spaces.

Micro sorting room.

Some of the stores only have 200 sq ft!


The final scaled layout for our Las Condes location.


Playbooks co-written for store managers.

"I appreciate smart things. This tool is invaluable to me, because it helps me work smarter."


Maca Mujica, director of stores


Toolbox to lay out scaled models for store planning.


A unique voice.


Show your heart.


We wanted a simple way to show our gratitude when you join the COANIQUEM family. This heart pin is worn by the whole network of volunteers, donors, and staff. 


Passion, Fashion, Action.

Our tone of voice is important. We want people to recognize the foundation, but see the value and connection in their new venture of charity thrift stores. We helped them devise a system of language and visuals that would work as a cohesive group in appropriate media platforms. 

Passion - Healing children

Fashion - Curated thrift

Action - Messaging

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Popup for people.

Next, we thought "What if we could travel to people instead of them coming to us?"  They asked us back for another term to design and build a popup for LOLLAPALOOZA to introduce the brand to a new family!