Event Recaps | Nov 12, 2014 |
Highlights from the Design Leadership Summit, Brooklyn
Boh staff
By Staff

After two inspiring days in Manhattan discussing the global state of design, Design Leadership Network (DLN) members headed to Brooklyn’s Industry City for the final day of presentations as part of the ninth-annual Design Leadership Summit. The second day focused on importance of craft in design and what means is to be made in Brooklyn.

The setting was a loft-like series of former-warehouses now allotted for the “maker community,” housing offices and studios of some of arguably some of the most creative people in New York City.

Industry City founder Michael Phillips kicked off the day's events.

Michael Phillips

“We’re all about the maker’s culture,” he said. “It’s about the workforce, the people behind the products, and we’ve gotten away from the typical corporate office space and lobbies and created a much more organized and open plan.”

Industry City is home to artisan makers, companies and organizations (Alexandra Ferguson, WantedDesign and David Stark Design Production to name a few), as well as 3D printing giant Maker Bot and the Industry City Distillery, whose founders spoke at the Summit.

Next up, representatives from some of the top design schools came to the stage to discuss the future of design education.

Dr. Sharon Sutton of the University of Washington, Cameron Tonkinwise of Carnegie Mellon and Miodrag Mistrasionvic of Parsons The New School discussed three key issues: creativity and innovation, the city, and the environment with Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons The New School.

Joel Towers, Sharon Sutton, Miodrag Mistrasionvic and Cameron Tonkinwise

Each speaker gave a presentation on each of the topics respectively, in the context of design education, and explained how promoting creativity and innovation within the education sector will allow the design industry to flourish.

All of the panelists agreed that issues like the gentrification of cities and the deterioration of the environment can be combatted with better design, and it all starts with the younger generation.

Sutton discussed the need for designers to engage with the under-priveleged multi-cultural youth in cities, who can bring new ideas from different perspectives to the table. The group urged designers and architects to hire youth from different backgrounds to promote diversity in the workforce.

Next, Anne Hellman, author of Design Brooklyn, took the stage for a Q&A with Brooklyn native Mike D. of the Beastie Boys about growing up in Brooklyn and growing up with an interior designer mother.

Anne Hellman and Mike D.

“The main thing it taught me is that it’s O.K. for things to be constantly under construction,” he said. “That was the natural state of our house.”

Mike D. then shared images of the “Brooklyn Toile” and "Malibu Toile" wallpapers he designed, which are available at Flavor Paper in Brooklyn. He also shared images of his town house in Brooklyn which he designed himself, using pieces from local artisans and craftsmen.

"Brooklyn makers still have the energy and excitement of everything that is going on in New York City right near them, but they also are able to take a step back from it all and be a part of a small community," Mike D. said. "It allows them to have a human experience." 

Continuing with the day's theme, the audience heard from architect Jeff Sherman, Situ Studio founder Brad Samuels and designer Dan Husserl, all of whom live and work in Brooklyn.

The group agreed that the initial reason for moving to Brooklyn was space, and a lot of it. However, 10 years back Brooklyn lacked money, but still had plenty of potential.

Anne Hellman, Jeff Sherman, Dan Husserl and Brad Samuels

“Now, the efforts and patronage of designers has turned Brooklyn into a place that people respect,” Sherman said.

“It’s so important to be around creative people,” Dan Husserl said. “You have to follow that energy, and that’s what we have here.”

After listening to panels and presentations for the greater part of the day, members broke off into groups to sit with peers and talk about the panels, speeches, and discussions—and, of course, parse how they could implement the days' takeaways into their design practices.

"Break Out" group

Groups discussed everything from technology to charging strategies to working with the “Millennial Generation” and focusing on sustainability and well-being in their design work. Each group had a moment to share its greatest conclusions and reactions with the audience.

To close out the day, guests heard from Bre Pettis, founder of Makerbot and Zac Bruner, co-founder of Industry City Distillery.

Bre Pettis

Pettis explained the booming market of 3D printing and how he believes there is an opportunity to use the technology for furniture. “I’d love to go to Thanksgiving and sit on a 3D printed chair,” he said.

As with the previous days' events, day three was punctuated by moments of encouragement and insight, this time with interior designers Victoria Hagan, who spoke about the importance of design education, and Sue Firestone, who spoke the effects of design on one’s health and well being.

Victoria Hagan

“Wellness in design is not a trend or a fad,” Firestone said. “It’s important and designers need to think about their clients' bodies and minds.”

To close out the day, co-hosts Sallick, Smith and Edelman thanked the participants, sponsors and speakers for making the ninth-annual Design Leadership Summit so special. "I want to thank all of our members for putting the time and effort into coming to this program and for demonstrating that you are willing and able and eager to be leaders within our industry," said Sallick.

Designers at Brooklyn Bowl

Guests then headed to Brooklyn Bowl for a night of beer and bowling before heading back to their respective offices across the country.

Stay tuned for highlights from a handful of Design Leadership Network members. Related Story: Highlights from the Design Leadership Summit, Manhattan

Photo Credit: John Calabrese Photography

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