Purpose Meets Profit: Designing Sustainable Cities of the Future

Nicole Sara Sivens
January 14, 2019
5 min read
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Swell’s Purpose Meets Profit events began in California as a way to share the stories of local, socially conscious entrepreneurs who are making a big difference through their businesses.

We’ve had the pleasure and privilege of discussing scaling international bicycle shipping with the founder of Banker Supply Bikes, the satisfying business of raising money for charity with the CEO of Omaze, and how to create an ethically sourced subscription service with the VP of ipsy.

In June of 2018, we took our show on the road and set up shop in the IDEO offices in New York City to discuss the future of sustainable cities. We talked with designers, architects, and entrepreneurs about how our cities will evolve over the next few decades–and what that means for business.

Our guests included Gwen Schantz of Brooklyn Grange Farms, Lawrence Abrahamson of IDEO, Jack Robbins of FXCollaborative, and Marshall Cox of Radiator Labs. The evenings’ discussion was moderated by Nicolás Ibargüen of Fusion TV.

As the head of Brooklyn Grange’s Design/Build division, Gwen Schantz creates and maintains innovative green spaces for a diverse clientele, from schools and non-profit organizations, to private residences and commercial buildings. Brooklyn Grange is the leading rooftop farming and intensive green roofing business in the US. They operate the world’s largest rooftop soil farms, located on two roofs in New York City, and grow over 50,000 lbs of organically-cultivated produce per year. They also operate an apiary, keeping bees in over 30 naturally-managed honey bee hives, on roofs dispersed throughout NYC.

As the Design Director of IDEO New York, Lawrence Abrahamson explores the boundaries of space, service, and experience. He enjoys looking for ways to break everyday mindsets and bend contexts through making and tangibility to see new connections and associations. IDEO is a global design company committed to creating a positive impact. From designing the first manufacturable mouse for Apple to advancing the practice of human-centered design, IDEO has long been at the forefront of creating change through design

As Principal of FXCollaborative, Jack Robbins works with public and private clients to create vibrant, sustainable cities. He brings a design-oriented approach and international experience to creatively solving complex challenges, with a keen understanding of the designer's responsibility to the public. FXCollaborative creates impactful projects with aesthetic integrity and an enduring design character. Through a continuous exploration of holistic function and essential components, they implement a transparent, thoughtful, and rigorous design process that promotes excellence and sustainability.

As founder and CEO of Radiator Labs, Dr. Marshall Cox’s mission is to eliminate overheating in steam-heated buildings. By incorporating radiator-level control with real-time data visualization to eliminate billions in wasted fuel, his tech proves comfort and control to residents–often for the first time in building’s history. Radiator Labs was born in a New York winter. Its founders developed their concept while living in overheated graduate student housing. They came up with the idea of the Cozy, an insulated smart radiator cover that brings relief from overheating. After a year of initial testing in Marshall’s apartment, they won the MIT Clean Energy Prize.

Interested in what everyone had to say on the topic of modernizing urban spaces?

Watch the whole discussion above.

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