Next City isn’t just a news website. We’re a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to urban changemakers and holding an annual Vanguard conference bringing together 40 top young urban leaders. Brianna Bullentini is a member of the 2015 Vanguard class from Reno. Upcoming Vanguard conferences will be in May 2016 in Houston, and Montreal in 2017.
Name: Brianna Bullentini
Current Occupation: Lead designer at The Basement, an upcoming multiuse incubator space of both retail and food vendors who all celebrate the craft of the hand, and owner of RAWBRY Cold-Pressed Juice Bar and Lifestyle brand.
Current City: Reno
Twitter Tag: @rawbrybar
I get to work by: Walk. I intentionally moved a block away from my project to help it move a little faster. (I don’t think the construction workers are too happy about that.)
The area I grew up in is: Suburbs in Reno. Heart of the city in New York City.
What is your favorite city and why? Florence, Italy, because you can just feel the family atmosphere and love about it. The smells and the winding streets, it’s such an inviting and ornately beautiful city from every detail. (Also wins over my heart because my family is originally from Lucca, a town just an hour west of it.)
Did you always want to be a designer? No. Honestly, until the age of about 12 I thought I was going to be an astronaut. Even went to space camp at Cape Canaveral and everything. I had a poster of John Glenn in my room for years. It was about middle school when I came to the realization that my gift for “spatial” design didn’t necessarily involve ‘outer space.’
What are the hard parts about your job? The juggling. I think I wear about 18 different hats any given day. I am not just the designer, but the manager, the mother, the janitor, the book keeper, the secretary, and the list goes on … I love them all though.
What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? The dependency on cars and electricity. We have dug ourselves into a hole. Urban development from here on out needs to facilitate walkable cities and self-generated energy sources.
What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? In simple terms, I want to leave the world a better place than how I found it. In doing so, my big hairy audacious goal would be to design a better living experience on Earth as we know it. Whether that be through human interactions with each other, or with their everyday objects and spaces. Designers are able to literally design every little thing we touch and make it for the better, so I hope that within my lifetime I am able to make the world a little bit brighter as we, a culture, travel from one impactful experience to the next.
What’s the best professional advice you have received? One of my favorite all-time experiential design mentors and now dear friend in NYC, Lionel Ohayon, told me “no idea is ever too big or impossible.” He always insisted, at the very least, “start at the moon.” At the inception of every single design idea, go big, build the castle in the clouds. Society/building department/or budget will whittle it down to “reality” for you. It’s your job, as the creative, to deliver something almost unimaginable.
Brianna’s latest project, in the basement of Reno’s historic 1933 post office, will be a multiuse incubator space of both retail and food vendors who all celebrate the craft of the hand.
What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? To practice what you preach. We all know there are always more environmentally beneficial, healthy and “sharable” ways to live, but it’s often easier said than done. So … if you believe in a method or are advocating a movement, then live it. People won’t follow if you aren’t following it yourself.
Brianna Bullentini | TEDxReno