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[Live Conversation] Reinvention Time: Life Stories of Renewal & Realignment

[Live Conversation] Reinvention Time: Life Stories of Renewal & Realignment

Caroline Baumann, former Director, Cooper Hewitt, leading a lively conversation with 4 dynamic “originals” in the design world who have shifted their missions and re-imagined their life and their work.

Moderated by Caroline Baumann, Changemaker, former Director, Cooper Hewitt Museum; with John Edelman, Consultant; former CEO, Design Within Reach; Bruce Mau, Chief Design Officer, Freeman; Co-Founder & CEO, Massive Change Network; Deborah Needleman, former Editor in Chief, Domino, Wall Street Journal Magazine, T: Style; Lisa Strausfeld, Founder & Principal, Informationart.

Presented with Be Original Americas

Introduction by Caroline Baumann:

This moment—is an existential one for the human species, a realization of our impermanence and so many of us are searching for renewal.  It is also bringing to light, like never before, the critical importance of design in lifting us out of this, to a more conscious way of life.  There’s no better group than the design community to reiterate how to move ahead with empathy and optimism, how to transition to a new reality. How to ensure that the crisis brings us forward. 
At a time when people worldwide are questioning and honing their futures, I am excited to hear some unique perspectives today about reinvention and realignment from talented and thoughtful people in the design world.  
Right now, many are experiencing fear, desperation, anger, loneliness. We need to realign ourselves, how we work, how we live, how we move into the future together and support each other. 
Many of you out there know me and know that in March I abruptly lost my role as director of the Cooper Hewitt, an institution I dearly love, and cultivated for nearly two decades as a place of inspiration and empowerment for everyone.  For me, it really felt like being blown out of an airlock, thrown into a void—a void which only grew larger and more intense with all the upheaval associated with the coronavirus.
One of my sources of strength however throughout these challenging months has been Keith Yamashita’s online sessions entitled This Human Moment, made up of deeply moving snippets of performance, meditation, and inspiration that really get people in touch with their emotions.  They communicate how we need to connect and walk together to build the future, and how critical creativity is to our future world.    
The purpose of today’s talk is to hear from our esteemed panelists about how they managed major transition in their lives, underscoring the difficulty but simultaneous charge gained from life exploration, discovery and growth. I’m especially appreciative and excited to have this opportunity to talk to 4 people who have also experienced professional disruptions, or a profound, urgent need for meaningful, sometimes sudden, change, and to learn from them here today.”


See a recap for the WantedDesign Manhattan Online Conversation Series, presented with Design Milk + Clever, at wanteddesignnyc.com/online

Top image credit: Massive Change Network

About our guests

John Edelman is currently an independent business and design consultant. From 2010 until 2019, he was CEO of Design Within Reach and Herman Miller Consumer Group. During his tenure at Design Within Reach, John transformed the business from a struggling, money-losing purveyor of both authentic and knock-off goods to the world leader in authentic modern design. John’s visionary collaborations with some of today’s most talented designers resulted in scores of successful modern furniture collections. Subsequently, Design Within Reach became a highly respected business resulting in an internationally publicized sale to Herman Miller. John currently serves on the Board of Directors of Be Original Americas, DIFFA, and the Design Leadership Network. John Edelman is a respected leader in the design community with decades of experience in all aspects of the business of design.

Deborah Needleman has been Editor in Chief of three critically acclaimed magazines: founding Editor in Chief of domino; led WSJ magazine; and then to T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Needleman co-authored books, created events, conferences, digital platforms, and advertising and marketing campaigns. Some of these include co-launching the New York Times annual International Luxury Summit, creating and designing the Wall Street Journal’s popular Saturday Off Duty section, WSJ’s annual Innovators Awards, and the bestselling book, Domino: The Book of Decorating.  Today, she is pursuing a passion for craft, as an artisan and as well as a researcher and writer. She maintains a studio in the Hudson Valley and NYC, and writes the Material Culture column for T magazine to celebrate the ancient skills, techniques, cultures and communities that continue to be embedded in beautiful handcrafted objects in regions around the world.

Bruce Mau serves as Chief Design Officer of Freeman, and is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Massive Change Network (MCN), a global design consultancy based in the Chicago area. The work of the Canadian-born designer, innovator, visionary and author has been dedicated to applying the power of design to transforming the world. Informed by three decades of design studio experience and collaborations with many of the world’s leading artists and architects, cultural institutions and global companies, Mau has evolved his own design thinking methodology to inspire innovative solutions to challenges in any context and on any scale.

Lisa Strausfeld is an information architect, data visualization entrepreneur, and founder of the studio, Informationart. She recently joined a “stealth data startup” as head of design. For the past two years, Lisa has been experimenting with a new way of visualizing history — inspired by a collaboration with Professor Gina Luria Walker at The New School. The result is an invention called “The Cooper Engine” which presents a time-based network graph in immersive 3D. This work derives from her work (decades ago) at the MIT Media Lab, under the direction of her mentor Muriel Cooper.