Inclusion


Amplifying Accessibility and Abolishing Ableism: Designing to Embolden Black Disability Visual Culture
An excerpt from from An Anthology of Blackness: The State of Black Design.


The Editors
Advocacy
At its core, advocacy is an art of creative benevolence: to advocate for someone (or something) is at once an act of generosity and a form of compassion, a mark of conscience and an expression of citizenship.



On Fighting the Typatriarchy
"My intent was to make a typeface that stands for the strength of a woman at different times in her life. In Indian culture, a woman is expected to be the powerhouse of responsibilities." An excerpt from Feminist Designer.


Cindy Chastain, Jessica Helfand, Ellen McGirt, Lee Moreau
Design Observer x Mastercard
For three days in March, we gathered with some sixty people—designers and scholars, social entrepreneurs and independent consultants, creative leaders and senior practitioners from across a range of industries—to discuss the current state of everything from collaboration and craft to cultural transformation, technological innovation, and the social and systemic changes impacting the ways we live and work.


Don Norman
Design for a Better World
An excerpt from Don Norman’s new book, Design for a Better World.


Dana Arnett, Kevin Bethune
S10E12: Decolonizing Design
Decolonizing Design: A Cultural Justice Guidebook is a guidebook to the institutional transformation of design theory and practice by restoring the long-excluded cultures of Indigenous, Black, and People of Color communities.


Daniella Zalcman
What We See
The inaugural book from Women Photograph, What We See, is a broad survey that represents the equally broad careers of our members.


Dana Arnett, Kevin Bethune
S10E6: Richard Ting
Richard Ting is the Vice President of Design for Revenue at Twitter.


Sloan Leo, Lee Moreau
The Futures Archive S2E10: The Automatic Door
The automatic door is a part of most peoples everyday lives, and certainly considered a convenience. But when you walk up to one does it feel magical? Futuristic? Frustrating? On this episode, Lee Moreau and Sloan Leo discuss the automatic door, and how we can design thresholds of all kinds to be inviting to all people.


Sloan Leo, Lee Moreau
The Futures Archive S2E3: The Blender
Do you have a blender? Do you use it? Does it make your life more convenient? On this episode of The Futures Archive Lee Moreau and Sloan Leo discuss the blender, gender roles, and power structures.


Sloan Leo
The Infrastructure of Care: Community Design, Healing & Organizational Post-Traumatic Growth
This essay interrogates the relationship between power, decision-making, and organizational healing. It asserts that community design as a practice offers a theoretical framework for organizational dynamic healing that structurally enables those harmed to set the pace and nature of resolution and repair.


Maurice Cherry
Make the Path by Talking
The Birth of Revision Path: The year is 2006.


adrienne maree brown + Lesley-Ann Noel
This Is Our Time!
adrienne maree brown on design, liberation and transformation as told to Lesley-Ann Noel.


The Editors
Ritesh Gupta + Useful School
Useful School is the world’s first pay-what-you-can online product design school for people of color.


Lee Moreau + Grace Jun
The Futures Archive S1E5: The Uniform
On this episode of The Futures Archive designer Lee Moreau and this episode’s guest host, Grace Jun, discuss the notion of a uniform, and the importance of inclusivity in human-centered design.


Jessica Helfand + Ellen McGirt
S9E10: Quemuel Arroyo
Quemuel Arroyo is the first ever chief accessibility officer at the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority.


The Editors
Terms of Service: June 2021
In advance of this weekend’s second annual Where Are The Black Designers conference, we are pleased to share this interview with some of their members.


Connect 4
Min Lew and Zaiah Sampson: Finding Your Creative Voice
Feeling confident in yourself and your work—especially when you’re still a student—can be a challenge.


Connect 4
Kojo Boateng and Brian Jean: Making Decisions, Making Your Mark
Brian Jean and Koto Boateng talk about decision-making as a creative, about being a Black designer, today and in the past—and why now is a great time to enter the design world.


Kaleena Sales
Teaching Black Designers
The vibrant complexities of the urban landscape create visual impressions in the mind, eventually serving as a mental library of stored images to use or reference when necessary.


Ellen Lupton
Confidence Equity
Are we born with confidence, or do we earn it? If we don’t have it, how can we get it?


Connect 4
Victor Newman and Ana Amaro: Becoming an Animator
In this episode, hear student Ana Amaro and her mentor, creative director Victor Newman talk about how they each found their calling and first encountered their animated favorites.


Connect 4
Natasha Jen and Adnan Bishtawi: How Do You Survive as a Designer?
How can you stay inspired, make great work, take care of yourself—and still pay the bills?


Connect 4
Forest Young and Sakinah Bell: Follow Your Curiosity, Find Your Inspiration
Finding joy, purpose, and personal evolution through creation.


Connect 4
Eddie Opara and Tyriq Moore: How Do You Build Knowledge as a Designer?
How learning and discovering new things is at the heart of being a good designer.


Connect 4
Man-Wai Cheung and Angel Blanco: “Mom, Dad, I Want to Be a Designer”
Man-Wai Cheung, founder and creative director of Adolescent and design student Angel Blanco, talk about choosing a creative career as first generation immigrants—and how they each explained that choice to their parents.


Harriet Gridley
Terms of Service: March Edition
Harriet Gridley, UK director of No Isolation, makes the case for a technological solution to loneliness.


Laetitia Wolff
Design is Capital: Five Lessons I Learned from Lille
Useful ingredients to bring design to cities.


Isometric Studio
Terms of Service: November Edition
Providing tangible steps to rethink institutions from the ground up and examine meaningful alternatives.


George Aye
How We Shook Up the World’s Oldest Student Design Competition
A story in Design Observer started a life-changing collaboration between the RSA in London and a small design studio in Chicago, Illinois.


Jessica Helfand + Ellen McGirt
S8E4: Ari Melenciano
Ari Melenciano is an artist, creative technologist, educator, and the founder of Afrotectopia, a social institution fostering interdisciplinary innovation.


Dr. Lesley-Ann Noel
Terms of Service: October Edition
I got a bit quieter and listened a bit more, noting blindspots about critical theory, pedagogy, identity, and inclusivity. As I listened, I researched critical theory, anthropology, and social justice concepts I thought could improve the kinds of conversations I was hearing.


Debbie Millman
Maurice Cherry
On this episode, Debbie talks with Maurice Cherry about his education and career, and about why the profession of graphic design has been so slow to acknowledge Black designers.



Scott Boylston
Design, Belonging, and Human Capabilities
The space between what we hope to achieve in our lives and the realization of those desires is riddled with contradiction and confrontation.


Scott Boylston
Human Capabilities and Design
Blindness to social injustice doesn’t diminish its existence.


Steven Heller
Tolerance: Spreading the Word
THE TOLERANCE PROJECT is a traveling poster collection that celebrates and honors the starting point of all meaningful discourse: tolerance.


Laura Scherling
A Tale of Long Island City: Between Industrialization, Innovation, and Gentrification
The multi-faceted aspects of development in Long Island City, with creative and technological development deeply ingrained in it’s rich urban identity and history.


Steven Heller
Closing New York’s Penal Colony
How design is playing an integral role in the campaign to close Rikers Island.



Observed


The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently announced that it would eliminate the term “equity” from its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) language. “What organizations like SHRM may or may not realize is that abandoning the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion causes real harm and serious pain,” says Amira Barger. “By sidelining equity, SHRM’s move may unintentionally exacerbate something called ‘dirty pain.’”

“As a person who spent the first part of my career as a graphic designer and art director, I immediately saw the visual power and nearly infinite graphic possibilities of this image.” In today's New York Times, Charles Blow discusses the irrefutable power of an iconic photograph.

In New York City, The Design Trust for Public Space is looking for photographers with “unique lenses on an equitable water future for New York”. Deadline for entry is 11 August. More here.

One artist's (musical) cry for help—or at least, fewer fast-food franchises in North Adams, Massachusetts.

“My design philosophy is to make people happy and comfortable in their environment,” says the 83-year old Irish designer known simply by her first name—Clodagh. “Since I don’t know the rules, I can actually break them all the time.” 

Design for accessibility, blessedly, is on the minds of architects and builders all over the world. Given the fact that an estimated 15-20% of the population is neurodivergent, commercial buildings are increasingly working to become more welcoming, inclusive, and comfortable for all individuals.

“While designers are eager for praise and acclaim and create an aura of ostensibly cultured and intellectual pursuit, often involving awards and accolades, design itself takes no responsibility for what happens when things go wrong.” An excerpt from Manuel Lima's latest book.  

Scientists are designing a space suit that converts urine into drinking water. More here.

Graphology geeks, rejoice! A new book featuring a selection of treasures from the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford is out from our friends at University of Chicago Press.

Sad but true: according to Q1 data collected by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, undergraduates choosing to major in Art History, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, and Graphic Design are associated with the highest rates of unemployment across the nation.

The Underground Railroad Stamps, for the United States Postal Service—released in May— feature 10 portraits of some of the men and women who escaped slavery and/or helped others escape: Catharine Coffin, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Garrett, Laura Haviland, Lewis Hayden, Harriet Jacobs, William Lambert, Jermain Loguen, William Still and Harriet Tubman. Designed by Antonio Alcalá, of Studio A,  the stamp, observes Steven Heller, “has done an important job of teaching American history to the public through these miniature ‘posters’ ”.

Randy Hunt is the new chair of the MFA “Designer as Entrepreneur” program at the School of Visual Arts in New York, succeeding founding co-chairs Steven Heller and Lita Talarico.

At Tulane, architecture students build homes for the homeless.

Cesar Rivera—who leads design for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta—has been named the next board chair of AIGA.

Founded in 1944 by Winston Churchill’s government to help accelerate post-war economic growth, The UK Design Council is on a mission to put the planet at the heart of the sector’s work.

Figma's new AI tool hits a roadblock.

Unlike most of the world, Iceland's design scene skews overwhelmingly female. Nat Barker explores what makes the tiny Nordic nation so different.

"If MoMA is going to get serious about this world, it needs to start by dumping the whole concept of “Latin America” and start getting specific." Carolina A. Miranda skillfully reviews Crafting Modernity, an exhibition about design (yes, in Latin America) that runs through the summer at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Logo lunacy for the New York Jets!

Professor Nayef Al-Rodhan—a philosopher, neuroscientist, geostrategist, and futurologist who currently leads the Geopolitics and Global Futures Department at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in Switzerland—holds strong opinions about architecture, which he characterizes as “an intrinsically philosophical enterprise grounded in aesthetics and ethics, including theories of human nature”. And he has something to say about its future, particularly in the age of artificial intelligence.

Co. Design is now Fast Company Design.

From our friends at the MITPress Reader (an occasional newsletter that we can't recommend highly enough), the architect Moshe Safdie offers a beautiful remembrance of steps—and insights on their complexity—that led him to a life in design. (Also in this edition: graphic design enthusiasts will love this story on the design of the original edition of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown's Learning from Las Vegas.)

At The Design Museum in London, a more "rainbow-hued version of the Barbie universe". 

Right-leaning public interest groups have filed a barrage of federal lawsuits intended to dismantle long-standing corporate and government programs that consider race in job placement. With an alleged goal of “complete race neutrality” (a view of radical equality that, for example, lawyers for the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty think is “in line with the Declaration of Independence”) litigants are chippping away at the use of affirmative action across America.  

As we wind down Pride Month 2024, a look at how queer theory apples to urban design: as theory and practice grows more empathetic towards the needs of its diverse stakeholders, queer urban design brings a broad and holistic shift to understanding identity and community in publicly inhabited spaces, challenging traditional (and often rigid) methods of city planning by applying more inclusive criteria to reflect fluidity and interconnectedness. 

Longevity, by Design: Apple has published a 24-page document outlining its key principles for designing hardware that endures.

Manchester City released a brand-new club font to use on the player’s shirts. But instead of tapping the skills of renowned typeface firms who routinely work with sports teams and brands, the Premier League champions asked former Oasis rocker Noel Gallagher to submit a brief. So he did! And the crowd went wild.

Designer Vivienne Westwood’s personal wardrobe goes to auction.

The UK's Design Council has announced a plan to upskill one million designers for the green transition by 2030. Their report, A Blueprint for Renewal: Design and Technology Education, was published with a group of 20 design and education organizations. 

The Peabody-award nominated audio documentarians at Scene on Radio have just dropped CAPITALISM. A full season, a dozen or so episodes, exploring the world's dominant economic system -- how people shaped it over time and what to do about it now that more and more people see capitalism as the problem, not the solution. Produced by host/producer John Biewen with co-host Design Observer’s Ellen McGirt and story editor Loretta Williams, among other amazing collaborators.  The trailer is here; find it wherever you get your podcasts.



Jobs | July 23