By Shani Rodan
Emmanuel Plat is the Director of Merchandising of MoMA’s retail division. Plat plays the lead role in shaping the merchandising strategy for the MoMA Design Store brand and developing products for distribution through MoMA’s retail and wholesale channels.
We spoke with Plat about living in New York City and the contribution of design to the quality of life in the City.
Shani Rodan: What is your favorite public space in New York City and why?
Emmanuel Plat: I live in Harlem, very close to the park. There is one place in Central Park that some people know, but some people don’t know it, so it’s really kind of magical. It’s a conservatory garden. It’s at the north end of the park, precisely between 105th and 108th Street, close to 5th Avenue. It’s a garden which is kind of gated within the park but open to the public. You have three different styles of gardens: an English garden, Italian garden, and a French garden. So it’s a peaceful environment and certainly a place to look for a calming feeling.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is definitely geared towards a younger audience: demographics that may not otherwise have access to outdoors activities, or maybe involved in more inner city complexes. So it’s a good example of how this design has provided a kind of outlet for these communities to enjoy the city, waterfronts and themselves.
SR: Give us an example of how design has improved the quality of life in New York City.
EP: If you look at the Brooklyn Bridge Park it is quite amazing to see the transformation and how basically from pier 1 to pier 6, all the evolution there has enabled the community to enjoy and benefit from a transformed landscape. What’s great there is that it’s definitely geared towards a younger audience: demographics that may not otherwise have access to outdoors activities, or maybe involved in more inner city complexes. So it’s a good example of how this design has provided a kind of outlet for these communities to enjoy the city, waterfronts and themselves.
SR: What would you like to see in New York City in 2030 and why?
EP: I think it’s more an awareness of design, because as wonderful as New York is, it’s certainly a competitive city in the wellness of sustainability and design. I hope that it’s the case for younger generations that are much more attune to design and are much more aware of the damages that industry progress can do. I hope that the city will really embrace environmental issues and find ways to reduce the number of gas emissions and various associative pollution that exists today. When you look at the amount of power that is wasted or used in New York City, especially in the summer, with people using air conditioning, there is not a real sense of civic understanding of environmental issues among New Yorkers. I hope that will change in the future, and that the city will be an advocate for these issues to make people more responsible when they consume and live in the city.