The 2022 iteration of Miami Art Week brought with it the 7th annual Lexus & Whitewall Art and Design Innovation Series, which featured a total of four discussions with art and design experts. The third panel in the series, “Designing with Human Impact in Mind,” took place at The Bass Museum of Art on Wednesday morning, where Tamara Warren, co-founder and CEO of Le Car lead a conversation that asked how our built environment impacts the human experience.
The first talk of the day welcomed panelists Alex Shen, the Chief Designer and Studio Resource Manager at Calty Design Research, Germane Barnes, the Principle of Studio Barnes and Associate Professor and the Director of Community Housing & Identity Lab (CHIL) at the University of Miami’s School of Architecture, Cheresse Thornhill-Goldson, Director, Design Education & Growth, adidas S.E.E.D., and Tati Pastukhova, the Founder and Managing Director at ARTECHOUSE. All concerned with different areas of design, Warren prompted the panelists to consider how their audience impacts their mission, in relation to conceiving a new project or design and their business infrastructure as a whole.
For Pastukhova, the focus of ARTECHOUSE is twofold, wherein they have to consider how to best serve both the artist and their audience. “Experiences shape us into who we are,” she said, noting the importance of creating an equally impactful environment for the creators to thrive and the onlookers to enjoy. For Shen, whose design expertise focuses on innovative automobiles for Lexus, the safety, joy, and well-being of the consumer is the key to a successful design.
“We always start with our intention and it’s absolutely the person who is going to be inhabiting the product,” said Thornhill-Goldson. Similarly, Barnes stated that his focus is typically on anthropology over design—“What is the actual experience that the audience is going to get out of the project?” is a key question he finds himself pondering when conceiving a new project.
Warren then asked about restorative design pertaining to serving diverse groups of people. This led to the importance of access to education and the sentiment shared by the panelists was that educating the younger generation and, in turn, learning from them, is equally as important as working in design yourself. “Design is really about solving problems,” Shen said. “The more [young designers] learn about society and the things going on the better problem solvers they become.”
After sharing details on their recent projects and undertakings—for Barnes, this was a celebration of Miami’s culture installed across the Miami Design District, while Shen’s was the Lexus collaboration with Suchi Reddy surrounding his design for the Electrified Sports Concept car—Warren opened up the discussion to allow the panelists to address one another with their own questions. Barnes had us all deep in thought when he asked his peers whether they experience design intentionally or clumsily.
To close, Tati asked her fellow panelists whether competition or consumer needs comes first when conceiving a new project, to which Thornhill-Goldson concluded, “If you are putting your consumer first and meeting their needs then you are number one.”