NYCxDESIGN, New York City’s annual celebration of design, recently wrapped up its fourth season. To learn more about who makes up the design community and how they think about the future, photographer Charles Aydlett visited the Astor Place Design Pavilion and Brooklyn’s WantedDesign exhibition. He posed the same question to 10 attendees: How would you like to see design evolve over the next decade in New York?

Name: Stephanie
Occupation: Writer and educator
Place of residence: Brooklyn

In the next 10 years I would like to see more smart, integrated design. New York is going to be dealing with massive population growth and tourism within a really finite space. We need to make it more livable.

In Europe you see a lot of smart design around roundabouts; you see more public parks, more community-centered design. That would be nice. One of the best things about New York is that there are so many different people from all different walks of life. It would be really nice to have more than just Central Park or Prospect Park or these tiny little parks scattered around the city to bring people together.


Name: Pascal
Occupation: Director, art center Le Vent des Forêts
Place of residence: France

I think the new generation of designers is looking for better ways to sell their work, to give opportunities to makers and designers. In Brooklyn I see new things.

One problem in America is finding a new way for design that’s not nostalgic. It’s easier to be nostalgic, but I think it’s not a good way. The better way is to understand society, the political context, and to think of new ways to make things.

NYCxDesign participant

Name: Robert
Occupation: Letterpress printer, Bowne Printers, South Street Seaport Museum
Place of residence: Brooklyn

People outside of design are becoming more literate in terms of what design is and what designers do. If that keeps going, it’s going to make it much easier for people who do letterpress printing to interface with our customers. We can have conversations about “oh, this is a modern typeface” or “this is an old-style typeface,” and they can understand. That makes it a lot easier to make interesting things for people, because they’re more aware of what their options are.

NYCxDesign participant

Name: Nadia
Occupation: Architect; faculty at Parsons School of Design
Place of residence: New York City

I would love to see more opportunities to help people co-design the future by engaging them in rapid prototyping. We could have pop-up events all over the city where people can use what we used at this event — Legos and KidKrafts — to quickly get ideas out about design for resiliency. This would help us see how we could live more enjoyable lives with less material, water, and energy consumption.

NYCxDesign participant

Name: Allen
Occupation: Architect
Place of residence: New York City

Given the current interest in materials, the most logical next step is for us to pay more attention to quality — and the craft that’s required to execute with quality. More attention to detail is what we need.

NYCxDesign particpant

Name: Lionel
Occupation: Designer and architect
Place of residence: New York City

I would like to see improvement in the city and transportation — more innovation in the city. I would say we work a lot on the green aspect, but it would be nice to also make smart cities, to make things smarter and more interactive.

NYCxDesign participant

Name: Elizabeth (Libs)
Occupation: Textile designer and quilter
Place of residence: Toronto, Canada

I would love to see more small designers doing one-off custom work. There are a lot of big manufacturers and big design firms, and it would be nice to see more support for smaller design firms or individuals. I think it’s headed in that direction. People are looking for more custom pieces.

Especially in New York City, it’s difficult for smaller groups to make it because of rent, real estate, being able to afford the trade shows. Luckily, groups like WantedDesign do Launch Pad and allow some space for exhibiting smaller design firms or individuals. That’s really helpful, but I’m sure it’s a big challenge trying to break through here.

NYCxDesign participant

Name: Karie
Occupation: Designer
Place of residence: Asheville, North Carolina

I would love to see more opportunities for artists to have space where they can experiment and collaborate and have room to fail. In Asheville we have more affordable studio space and housing than you do in New York. It’s not fully commerce-driven. There are so many people who make different kinds of work and work in different mediums. Because every piece doesn’t have to be something that we’re making money from, we can take a space to experiment and see what shakes out.

NYCxDesign participant

Name: Jen
Occupation: Light and interactive sculptor
Place of residence: Manhattan

Technology offers some interesting opportunities to activate public space in a different way. Look at what we can do in art, design, and architecture: we can take a plaza like this and put a piece in it that will bring people in — kids, adults, teenagers — to connect with the public space and also with each other. From a design standpoint this is really amazing. There are more and more tools coming out that will allow designers and artists to really create extremely active, connected spaces.

NYCxDesign participant

Name: Jeff
Occupation: Design and development lead, Ecovative Design
Place of residence: Troy, New York

I’d really like to see more public interaction with design and have the public understand the role it plays in their everyday lives. With all the projects going on in the city now, from the skyscrapers that billionaires are moving into to transportation hubs, the public questions the value of a lot of projects. I think we should engage them so they understand the purpose of something like the World Trade Center hub or a billion-dollar skyscraper that may not be accessible to everyone. We should show them the value that it creates for the city and even their neighborhoods.


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