Green Manhattan is the title of a fantastic article written in 2004 by David Owen, a correspondent for The New Yorker since 1991. While Owen’s piece may seem very dense, it is such a great read.
In his intervention on Manhattan as an environmental model of responsibility, Owen touches on questions that we should all ask ourselves about cities, how we want to live, and where the responsibility and solutions are for our current climate crisis.
Consequently, I thought it useful to summarize and communicate the gist of his argument.
Here are Owen’s key points in Green Manhattan:
In this midst of a pandemic, when many cities around the world have imposed lockdowns and curfews one after the other, it has become increasinly more important to think about cities — and about our well-being within them.
In the near future, the built environment will grow, and change, beyond our imagination. Projections show that urbanization, the gradual shift of the human population from rural to urban areas, combined with the overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050.
Mid-Century Modern is a design movement in interior, product, graphic design, architecture, and urban development that was popular from roughly 1945 to 1975 in post-war America and Europe.
Adopting mass-production techniques and concentrating on form rather than just function, Scandinavian designers attracted great success during this time period. For the Danish in particular, this period represented a golden age for furniture design where many were able to make a name for themselves.
Many of the iconic Danish pieces of this time period are exposed at the Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen.
Inpsired by Lars Dybdahl’s own book on Danish Modern Design…
French furniture designer Charlotte Perriand (1903–1999) was one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. She is often mentioned alongside Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, with whom she worked for the majority of her career.
At the age of twenty-four Charlotte Perriand approached Le Corbusier and asked to join the designer’s famed studio. Le Corbusier famously turned her away, stating “we don’t embroider cushions here.” Months later, after seeing her Bar Sous Le Toi at the Salon D’Automne exhibition in Paris, he apologized and hired her on.
The Flos Arco Floor Lamp is an incontestable design icon. The lamp, which is composed of a heavy marble base that supports and counterweighs a large arched metal stem, was designed by Italian architect brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in 1962 — their inspiration for the piece being street light design.
And yes, the hole at the center of the marble base is there for a purpose that goes beyond just aesthetics; the idea was to be able to stick something like a “broom handle” through it as so to make it easier to move around. …
Located in the city of Piracicaba, 250km away from São Paulo, Weinfeld’s Piracicaba House is intended to serve as a meeting point for a family whose members are scattered across various cities around the state.
Knowing about Art Deco, Mid-Century Modern, or Postmodern Contemporary iconic furniture pieces is not just something for architects or interior designers, nor limited to fanatics of these subjects— in many cultures and to many individuals, knowing certain key pieces that were brought about by different design movements and periods is actually viewed as invaluable cultural knowledge.
From Paris, France. 21 years old. International Relations and Sustainable Urban Planning student at USC. Currently working in London, UK.