The main thesis of the evening was how broad thinking can alter product and design and much of the focus was on cities around the world and the impact designers can have on the world in which we live.
Szenasy stated that urban areas are rebuilding at a rapid clip. She continued, “I hate to say this in Motown, but there's too many cars.”
She spoke of her idyllic childhood in a Hungarian village, and how, as a child, everyone knew her and her family— and looked out for each other. Neighbors were willing to scold kids when needed or send you home for dinner when it was time. She was able to roam unhindered and allowed her to explore and learn new things. She said that community is what shaped her experience.
Community is one of the most important aspects of urban living. And it is often missing. City planners and designers sometimes neglect to consider all aspects of city life when designing a city. “Just bc we know how to build skyscrapers doesn't mean we need to keep building them,” says Szenasy.
She implores us to “Find out what the street life is. It's not just about skipping through a street— It's how we relate to a place.” Now what we’re seeing is suburbia is creeping into the city, she said.
“Gentrification is huge. Nobody is asking any questions. There is a place for ordinary working people but many cities are not designed with them in mind. They don’t fit in anywhere. A lot of mixed-use buildings are designed by American architects. They ‘think’ they are creating a city-- but do they really Think they are creating a city.”
Szenasy continued that we should build with nature in mind. She said when Hurricane Harbey hit Houston, it hit the low-lying areas, generally lived in by those with lower incomes. She said rebuilding the area is a free-for-all because there are no zoning codes.
Young people are moving into cities in large numbers. She noted that meaning is important-- something beyond the work. Mobil work-from-home and co-working are popular options, as is redeveloping old building and factories into something new, creating a “story” in the workplace.