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Modern Atlanta: Engaging Sustainable Design

Courtesy of: Nicola Vidali

            One day a few friends met in a coffee shop in Atlanta and spoke about their desire to embrace environments, products, and services that weren’t just pretty, but also designed to provide a deep fulfillment for the human need. This intellectual conversation between a few friends, just four years ago, planted the seed for what was to grow into the 4th edition of MA – Modern Atlanta.

MA promotes mainly architectural and interior design which is in line with the philosophy that any design process should be ethically equipped. “When you start to create something,” explains MA Creative Producer Nicola Vidali, “you have esthetic, dimensional and functional guidelines and then you have ethical guidelines that direct the ultimate goal, which is to have a product or a service that serves the human need.” In this way, MA is a promoter of design excellence that also encourages sustainable practices in the corporate and public spheres. “This is nothing new,” Nic continues, “We are just embracing concepts that may have been forgotten.”

            What is new, however, is the way in which MA works to provide a cross-platform for academia, corporations, and media to come together around the idea of making design human, design that is functional for human needs and the environment. “People don’t know about sustainable things happening because it stays within the institution doing the sustainable action,” Nic points out. Not only does the platform provide a forum to share sustainable ideas on design, but more broadly, to discuss social responsibility in corporations. “In academia they are talking about [social responsibility in corporations], in media they are emphasizing it, and businesses are actually doing it. These three components create a vehicle for change,” Nic explains, “We need corporations to be ethically equipped to be human.”

            MA provides this cross-platform dialog during their annual one-week event named “Design is Human,” which will be held on June 1st-6th in various parts of Atlanta. During this time there are discussion panels, lectures, film screenings, and exhibitions in order to bring people together around the idea of sustainable design and social responsibility. Nic emphasizes that bringing people together will effect positive change because it enables more communication which leads to more action, “We have to communicate our values,” Nic says, “because we are all connected. That’s how we create a better world: communication creates reality”

            However, before we can create a better world, Nic explains that we must create a better self, “Before everything, we need to know how to interact with ourselves, others, society, and once we are good in that sense, ethically, then we can also be a successful, professional person.”

            MA invites Emory students, innovators, visionaries, and independent minds of ages and paths of life to attend Modern Atlanta week, “Design is Human,” this June, where we will be able to engage in conversation with people from Atlanta and around the world who are in line with the thinking process to create a better world- starting from the living space and expanding to the services of human needs. MA also encourages Emory students to get involved in their initiative by forming a group and creating a project to be executed/presented during their “Design is Human” week in 2011. “Whether you create an exhibition or a give a student lecture, there are many ways to be a part of Modern Atlanta,” Nic insists.

-Jenna Shweitzer ’11

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