July 2009-Sustainable South Bronx (SSBX) director Miquela Craytor, asked the Pratt Design Incubator if they would partner with community members to create a series of street furniture for the South Bronx Lafayette Avenue Greenway project. “I jumped at the opportunity to work with SSBx,” said Johnson. “It ambitious to come in a work with the community on a design. Let alone having a goal that the community of Hunts Point be able to fabricate the furniture themselves.” Debera Johnson, the founder of the incubator, assembled a group of six Industrial Design alumni from Pratt and added an architecture an environmental designer and an urban planner. They joined together for an intensive six week design process led by Robert Langhorn an industrial design professor at Pratt and Michael Cluer, one of the designers of the “Greenway” project.
To create functional and relevant objects for the community, the designers participated in a workshop with local youth from SSBX, “The Point” and the community’s yearly Block Party. At all of these events, the designers created a dialog with the community to learn about how they envision their street and to develop an understanding of the needs of the community. The final “town hall” style presentation resulted in a energetic debate. “I never realized a bench could be political.” said Johnson. “But this is a neighborhood battling to have a safe place for their kids.” The design team had to consider how the seating could be used by unwanted visitors to the street.<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/8938932″>Sustainable South Bronx Project Documentary</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/csds”>Pratt CSDS</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>