‘Metropolis’ editor speaks of bringing environmental materials to design

Jennifer Zemanek

Susan Szenasy, editor -in-chief of Metropolis magazine, lectured to a large crowd at the Kiva last night.

Metropolis is an architecture, design and culture magazine. Szenasy, who has been editor-in-chief for 19 years, spoke about problems in the environment and internal affairs of the design world.

Szenasy said people spend about 90 percent of their time in one room during the night, breathing in harmful polyurethane chemicals, which can be found in almost everything we touch.

The least designers can do is to be aware that the materials they use can be detrimental to the environment and humans, Szenasy said, adding that they need an educational foundation that places the natural environment at the center of learning.

Szenasy said we are now entering a period of time for seriously re-evaluating the materials of our world. Architects need to become advocates for the environment. We need to learn from our past mistakes and never repeat them again, she said.

Senior architecture major Lauren Merski, who organized this first lecture of the spring design series, said, “The spring design theme is design responsibility. I wanted Susan Szenasy to speak to us because we were looking for people who are making an effort to practice or teach responsible design. She can teach us what we can do in our role to make our design better.”

Szenasy said in order for designers to do work of the 21st century, they need collaboration. There needs to be an opportunity for different elements of design, such as interior design and architecture, to come together.

“I am interested in the whole spectrum of design,” junior architecture major, Mike Herpy, said . “I want to gain a new perspective, and I think this speaker can provide that.”

Not everyone agreed that Szenasy could provide such information.

“I think her topic was too broad — she talked about everything from carcinogens to plastics in fashionable coats,” freshman architecture major, Rachel Schad, said.

“However, I do agree that there needs to be more collaboration. I would like to see more collaboration between the schools of architecture and interior design here at Kent (State) where I don’t see much interaction.”

Szenasy said society needs to think more about design than ever before. When she looks at the world of design she sees the glass as half empty.

All the questions designers can ask are urgent, and once you ask one, another one arises, Szenasy said. As a designer asks these questions and gains insights, a whole new inquiry of design is created, she said.

“Can you imagine if the materials you use are cleaner, safer and more beautiful? Can you imagine our world?”

Contact fine and professional arts reporter Jennifer Zemanek at [email protected].