Rocket Science: Rebecca Brooker, Part 2
On Argentina, creative people she admires, and plans for the future.
Rebecca Brooker is a queer Trinidadian designer, currently based in Buenos Aires. She is the co-founder of Queer Design Club and runs her own freelance practice, Planthouse Studio. She also works as a Senior Designer at MediaMonks.
After studying design at St. John’s University in Queens, she went on to work with clients like Compass, Thinkful, Bloomberg QuickTake, Gloveworx, Axios, and several small businesses focused on growth. Rebecca enjoys building communities of creatives — bringing them together to form connections and spark new opportunities. Read Part 1 of her interview here.
Where’s the first place travelers should visit in Buenos Aires?
Well, Americans can’t visit just yet. Tours are still closed for Buenos Aires. But the first place you should visit in Buenos Aires, I would say go to — get some steak and get some good Argentine wine.
Eating is my favorite hobby as soon as I get to a new country. I am very much a foodie. I plan where I’m going to eat every time I go somewhere. I’m looking up the best restaurants. I have all my dinner plans.
There’s a steakhouse here called Don Julio, and it’s been rated the number one restaurant in Latin America, I think more than once. The steak is so soft that you can cut it with a spoon. I swear to God. Argentina has incredible meat and 20 bucks for a steak here would go for $200 in New York City. It’s insane.
You should also visit this wine bar called Hache. It’s a little almacén … a little shop that sells all kinds of wine. You can sit outside and drink wine, it’s perfect.
Who’s a creative person you admire?
I had the opportunity to chat with her a few weeks ago, and she’s just one of my most favorite people because she’s so genuine and genuinely committed to building this new type of diverse organization.
She runs a website that has a directory of underrepresented people working in tech. She runs a job board. She runs a newsletter for students, where it’s informing students of new opportunities for them. I would love for our two organizations to work closely in the future.
She’s been doing that for a little under a year and it’s gotten an incredible response. She is so authentic, so committed to building a new space for people to feel included.
She’s also building a new social network platform called Somewhere Good that is meant to be the antithesis of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all these things. It’s about spending your time somewhere good on the internet. I admire both of these women and just love to root for their success.
What’s one of your favorite outdoor spaces?
Last year, my partner and I took a trip to this vineyard in the north of Argentina called Bodega Colomé, and they are actually one of the top vineyards in the world.
It was my birthday, and we had the opportunity to stay overnight in this vineyard in the middle of nowhere. When I tell you in the middle of nowhere, you drive for four hours out past all these desert things, you see one little sign that’s like, “Bodega.” you go down this dirt road, and then you come into this lush, beautiful wine estate.
The strange thing is the owner of the vineyard collects James Turrell pieces. And he had James Turrell build a museum on the estate! It’s not open to the public, you have to book a reservation at the vineyard to get in.
My partner and I are huge fans of James Turrell. When we found out that there’s this secret museum in the middle of Argentina in the desert, we were like, “We’re going.” It was incredibly scenic. The vineyards were 100% the most beautiful place I’ve been in my life.
What are you listening to right now?
I’ve been listening to a lot of reggae. Chronixx is one of my favorite Jamaican artists. And Protoje is also one of my favorite Jamaican artists.
I am a Caribbean woman through and through, and I love reggae, soca, dance hall — anything coming out in the Caribbean. I’ve been listening to this because I’ve been feeling weirdly homesick for Trinidad.
Listening to reggae just makes you want to have a feel-good kind of Sunday morning. Wake up and open all the windows, sit in the sun, and have this background music playing. It reminds me of being home. That’s been really comforting in the pandemic.
What’s your favorite wall decoration in your home?
I recently moved into an apartment, and when I arrived there was all of this wall art that is weirdly New York City-themed. A huge subway map, a map of Manhattan, some framed New Yorker covers … I mean, everything.
I thought it was so strange, like the ghost of New York is haunting me in this apartment thousands of miles away. I haven’t put anything on these walls yet, but someone decorated it like New York for me, which seemed appropriate.
What do the next few months look like for Queer Design Club?
We’re working on a lot of updates, and we have big plans. We have a merch line dropping soon, just in time for Christmas. Next year, we’re setting up a community leadership board to support me in making a lot of huge structural changes
We’d like to have a director of professional development, focusing on workshops and helping people improve their skills. Also, we need a director of social media, promoting our people online, and making the directory better.
There’s a lot of ground to cover, and I’m one person at the moment. I need more support, and people have expressed that they want to be involved in it more. I think it’s the right time to bring in others who want to double down and invest in what they get out of it.
We’re overhauling our website. We’re putting up a jobs board. We’re looking for sponsorship. There’s so much happening for our plans for 2021 that I’m excited just to get there and go full steam ahead. It’s going to be a really big year for us.