Meet Metropolis’s Director of Design Innovation

Susan S. Szenasy describes her evolving role within Metropolis, now a fully evolved media company with a robust events program, Think Tank.
Susan S. Szenasy presents at a 2016 Think Tank event in Boston, at the Cannon Design offices. Courtesy Cannon Design

If you’re in the habit of looking at magazine mastheads to see the many skills it takes to produce each issue, you’ll notice my new title, starting this month. This shift from publisher and editor in chief to director of design innovation signifies that Metropolis is a fully evolved media company that, in addition to the magazine, shares fresh content on a redesigned website supplemented by a robust social media outreach. In the analog, face-to-face world, we are also known for producing a growing number of events; I’m involved in 35 of these this year alone. Our Think Tank programs, for instance, are in their third year. In 12 months, I visit nine North American cities, making 27 stops at architecture and design firms. For the first time this past June we ventured across the border to Canada.

We designed this series of moderated conversations to discover and document how successful firms, often with global practices, have shifted from the siloed world of the 20th century to the networked 21st century, where collaboration, community, connectivity, and authenticity have become our buzzwords. In the process, we meet the skilled professionals who help supply the expertise essential to a robust understanding of what it takes to design environments, indoors and outdoors, as well as whole sections of walkable cities of mixed-use neighborhoods. Initially our Think Tanks focused on areas of design specialties, from workplace to education. But now schools are niched into condos and workplaces may be anything from tech start-ups to makerspaces to a growing number of entrepreneurial endeavors. Each of these new businesses focuses on attracting a new generation of creative workers who also want to live full, healthy, environmentally sensitive lives.

My new title reflects what I do today. As part of Metropolis’s event planning team and as moderator, I have the opportunity to dig into the most innovative thinking that reconnects the design community to the people who look to it for help in connecting to each other, to their work, to their communities, and to the environment. The best part of this process, for me, is that as moderator I get to use my editorial skills as a storyteller to create live narratives informed by knowledgeable and caring professionals. What’s not to love about this process? As Tommy Tune, the lanky Broadway choreographer and dancer, now at age 78 working with theater companies across the U.S. and in Japan, recently said, “The magic ingredient is love.”

If you enjoyed this article, you can find all of Susan S. Szenasy’s “pub notes” here.

Categories: Think Tank

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