For the first time in history, more people live in cities than not, and that number is growing rapidly. We talk a lot with our clients about this, because we believe cities will determine the future of humanity. That’s why we sponsored Design Forecast Live — to bring our clients together, share ideas, and co-create the future. Held in Los Angeles with the UCLA Anderson School of Management, the conference joined Gensler leaders with a cross-section of our clients to explore the forces we believe will impact cities and influence the human experience for decades.
Built on the foundation of the Gensler Design Forecast, our flagship report on design trends uncovered by the Gensler Research Institute, the two-day event featured thought-provoking keynote speakers, panel discussions, and breakout sessions. In their introductory remarks on “Shaping the Future of Cities,” Gensler Co-CEOs Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen acknowledged the challenges that population growth will present in the next quarter-century. “But it’s not all about the dire picture,” said Cohen. “Cities are laboratories for innovation. They are the most diverse places on the planet, and we know that out of diversity comes innovation.”
Speaker Dene Oliver captured the spirit of the event in his heartfelt remarks about the rise of people-focused design. Oliver, of Brookfield OliverMcMillan, recounted a career in land development that evolved from a focus on great design to a preoccupation with placemaking. “But I’ve realized in recent years that it’s about much more than making special places,” he said. “It’s really about figuring out how to create connections. Isn’t that really what we are all trying to do?”
That theme of focusing design on human connections resonated constantly through the event. From “companies are finding that a people-first mentality is paramount” to “technology is redefining retail to create new layers of engagement with customers,” the overriding importance of human experience emerged time after time. This is Gensler’s commitment: to design cities that put people at the center.