NEW YORK — Whether suggesting factories welcome walk-in visitors, establish subsidized manufacturing or teach consumers as children to value domestic made goods, Tuesday’s “Making NYC” panelists were intent on bolstering local production.
Beyond rezoning and launching a Made in NYC label, the eight-person group discussed in detail strategies that are working. Hosted by the Design Trust for Public Space and moderated by Architectural Record’s Cliff Pearson, the panel featured Bob Bland of Manufacture NY; Miquela Craytor of NYC Economic Development Corp.; Adam Friedman of Pratt Center; Andrew Kimbal, of the Brooklyn Navy Yard; Tanya Menendez of Maker’s Row; Nina Rappaport of the Vertical Urban Factory Project at Yale School of Architecture; Yeohlee Teng, and Marianne Webber of Quick Turn Clothing.
In the wake of the catastrophic building collapse in Savar, Bangladesh, on April 24, speakers concurred that domestic manufacturing is a far safer alternative, albeit a more expensive one. Teng suggested that if local factories became more automated, they could better afford to use skilled workers for handwork and maintain domestic production. “The integration of those two things has not quite happened,” she said.
Along with the resurgence in heritage brands, consumers are more interested in shopping locally to support their neighborhood’s economy, reducing their carbon footprint and protecting local artisans, Menendez said. At the Brooklyn Navy Yard, 50 percent of the tenants are “making things,” and manufacturing needs to be thought of in a broader scope, said Kimball. To that end, the BNY is making a big push to get college undergraduates and other students on site to see the work being done, to work as interns and to try to motivate them to pursue such jobs. Others suggested making younger children aware of the benefits of locally made goods as part of their curriculum.
Teng noted how First Lady Michelle Obama could help the cause given her fondness for designer labels. “Correct me if I’m mistaken but I have never heard her say where her clothes are made. That would have a huge impact,” Teng said.