innovation | April 17, 2013

Incremental Changes Won't Redesign The Future: Natalie Jeremijenko

This April, innovation speaker Natalie Jeremijenko will join a panel of esteemed international curators at The SYNAPSE 2013 Conference. An artist and engineer who directs the xDesign Environmental Health Clinic at NYU, Jeremijenko will speak about the intersection of art and science and the curator's role in designing for the future. New models must be adapted and embraced, she says, to eliminate troublesome monopolies over who designs our cities and common spaces.

At xDesign, she focuses on drafting experimental designs and working with new technologies to promote non-violent social change. "I oppose formulaic ideas," she says in an interview about her upcoming presentation at the conference. She adds: "We are not robots that can be reprogrammed." You can't restructure people's behaviors through archaic and formulaic design models that spout advice along the lines of, "there [being] 10 things you can do to 'save the world,' like changing a light bulb, recycling shopping bags or buying local lettuces, etc."

Part of the problem, she says, lies in the fact that, "the service structure of architecture and engineering design professions limits what and to whom they are accountable [and] these professions are not accountable to community health and environmental performance." The changes they propose are often incremental rather than a wide scale re-imagining of communal spaces. Jeremijenko proposes designing for community wide, rather than individual, change. While it is important to do your small part towards achieving positive social change, the bigger institutions designing your cities and city spaces need to contribute to the change, as well. In her upcoming talk, she says she will address her belief that, "the question of what to do [about the future] is open." We need to step outside of the norm, she says, and embrace experimentation if want to truly restructure the way we live.

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health | April 16, 2013