Exploring Livable Streets, Environmental Art and Workspace Layout at A Better World By Design 2014

So back in the summer, I was trying to decide whether I should attend if it’s worthwhile to attend the design conference A Better World by Design (AWBxD). Now, here I am on the campuses of RISD and Brown University attending conference talks and workshops! While some of the workshops are quite amateur in nature (i.e. feel not well developed and not well facilitated), some of the ABWxD speaker sessions and other workshops have been fantastic. Here are a few of my faves so far…

Aaron Naparstek got us well acquainted with livable streets, showcasing some amazing urban re-design work from around he world and particularly in NYC, improvements to cities that allow them to better integrate bicycles, pedestrians and green space to become more lively.

The folks from Work-Shop kicked of their session by giving us a super-basic floor plan and 3D-printed model furniture and having us work in small groups to design a workspace that we thought would be pleasant and productive. It was great . We then looked at the story of how The Design Office co-working space was put together from near scratch with plywood and design-thinking enthusiasm to become a gorgeous and cozy space for design work, meetups and more.
open floor plan + 3D-printed model furniture = workspace of the future?

Environmental artist Stacy Levy gave us a virtual tour of her stunning projects that seek to re-connect people to the landscapes around them. I was too enthralled by her fantastic work to snap any pictures during this session… Her projects range in nature from helping native species create their own habitat to teaching the water cycle with interactive rain gardens to reclaiming parts of parking lots as green space.

With these three talks alone, I can get a glimpse of what a better world might look like: cities with livable streets where we’re working in beautiful, functional office spaces in neighborhoods that incorporate by engaging environmental art that reminds us of our relationship with nature. Now that’s the kind of future I’d love to live in.

Re-considering that my alternatives for spending this weekend and the $500 of conference registration and hotel costs were

  1. buying an iPad,
  2. splurging on and devour Blue Apron meals,
  3. taking a trip to the White Mountains, or
  4. taking a bunch of General Assembly classes,

the decision to attend seems to have been a good one (ABWxD is easily better than 1 & 2, and 3 & 4 can be done during other times of the year).

And there’s still one more day of A Better World by Design to go…

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