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


Sara Little Turnbull was tiny but fierce (she stood a not-very-towering 4'11). The designer once described as “corporate America's secret weapon” was a leading practitioner for more than six decades, and remains an inspiration to countless women in design, technology, and (notably) in science. On her podcast, Lost Women of Science, American journalist Katie Hafner discusses the woman, the legend—and the N-95 mask.

Following President Biden's  2021 executive order to transform the customer experience, agencies have been rethinking how they can create organizational change and best practices—even at NASA—where design is leveraged in an effort to both build and sustain trust.  

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. During a biopsy, a sample of her cancerous cells were collected without her knowledge. Education around Lacks has increased recently, and a statue and historical marker were dedicated to her last year in her birthplace of Roanoke. Now, a statue design contest is underway: they'll be accepting submissions until March 15. 

Goodbye war rooms, corner offices and—yikes—physical libraries, which have allegedly “gone the way of the landline and the Dictaphone” in law offices. Post-pandemic, with remote and hybrid work on the rise, a more collaborative, equitable spatial allocation means a more flexible, and some say more productive workplace. 

Can design be a catalyst for societal progress? Asmita Kerkar thinks it can. Her design philosophy is hinged on nurturing spaces that foster empathy and facilitate community engagement, grounded in a commitment to sustainability and inclusivity. She channels her passion into creating equitable environments, bridging the gap between design and social change

I love it. What is it?

Following the light. Letting the actors move. Envisioning—and sculpting—a mood. Jack Fisk, the production designer behind There Will Be Blood, The Revenant, and Killers of the Flower Moon, among many other award-winning films, explains it all

Tyler Perry puts the planned $800 million expansion of his studio in Atlanta on hold after seeing OpenAI’s text-to-video model Sora, which debuted Feb. 15. “Being told that it can do all of these things is one thing, but actually seeing the capabilities, it was mind-blowing,” he said. With AI, there’s no need to travel to locations or build specialized sets. The future impacts are concerning, he says. “[A]s I was looking at it, I immediately started thinking of everyone in the industry who would be affected by this, including actors and grip and electric and transportation and sound and editors, and looking at this, I’m thinking this will touch every corner of our industry.”

The racism in the yield curve: Groundbreaking research from Destin Jenkins, an assistant history professor at Stanford University, reveals how the $4 trillion municipal bond market has historically excluded Black taxpayers and disproportionately benefited infrastructure projects in white communities. (Jenkins’s research focuses on the American state, racial capitalism, and the built environment; you can watch him explain his research in a recent fireside chat with bond professionals here.)

Tesla is recalling 2.19 million vehicles because of a problem with a font. If you don’t think design matters at this point, you can’t be helped.

There’s a lot of plastic hidden in our clothes. Like, a lot.

Singapore is set to require all flights departing the country to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2026.

What’s in a label? Well, the truth, mostly. Lawsuits filed against  Gorton’sALDIConagraBumble Bee Foods, Mowi, and Red Lobster are challenging Big Fish to back up the sustainability and eco-friendly labels they put on their seafood products and brands. “From what I see, there’s a good chance at least some of the companies defending themselves are engaging in false advertising, although they may not realize what they’re doing,” says Arlin Wasserman, the founder of sustainability consultancy Changing Tastes.

Nex Benedict, a transgender teen from Oklahoma, died the day after their peers assaulted them in a school bathroom. They had been bullied for ages, but the assaults began in earnest a few months after Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill in 2022 that required public school students to use bathrooms that matched the sex listed on their birth certificates. This piece from the Independent provides essential context for the assault and details of Benedict’s life.

Chatbot versions of Adolph Hitler, Donald Trump, and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski are among 100 chatbot “characters” on the busy far-right social network Gab. Most of the characters are playing to type, spewing conspiracies about COVID-19, vaccines, U.S. elections, climate change, Holocaust denial, and more. It goes downhill from there.

“People came here or already lived here, young people with lots of energy and ideas and ideals who wanted to start things,” observes Syd Staiti, Executive Director of Small Press Traffic, a Bay Area poetry organization and archive. They're turning 50 this year—and they're not alone! Bravo to all the hard-working artists and arts organizations on this list—and here's to the next 50.

Self-disruption allows companies to stay ahead of the curve, anticipating and responding to changing market dynamics rather than reacting defensively; it fosters a culture of innovation, encouraging employees to think creatively and take calculated risks; and it can even open new revenue streams and markets, ensuring long-term sustainability. Sam Aquillano, the former Executive Director of the Design Museum in Boston, explains it all.

In New Jersey, the ballot is structured in a way that favors endorsed candidates. Three candidates are making a persuasive case on why this might be a critical design problem.

TikTok has become a target of parents, policymakers and regulators who are concerned about the company’s data-collection practices and the platform’s effect on young people’s mental health—including whether there is a risk for addictive design.

Australia's first moon rover rover will collect samples of lunar soil known as regolith, from which NASA will attempt to extract oxygen — a key step toward establishing a sustainable human presence on the moon and producing rocket fuel to support future missions to Mars. And they need design help.

Thai graphic designer Chalermpol Jittagasem has created a new typeface family to help immigrants improve their English pronunciations. “I've seen so many Asian Americans subjected to truly cruel shaming for speaking English with a strong accent and incorrect pronunciation, even though they, like me, are living in the most diverse state in the US,” he says. 

Design Justice AI was announced in 2023; the Global Humanities Institute is sponsored by the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes and the Mellon Foundation and is a partnership of four university-based centers at Rutgers, University of Pretoria, Australia National University, and University of Connecticut. Things are gearing up for a summer meeting in Pretoria; bookmark and follow along. 

Marsha Ann Maytum, founding principal of Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects (LMSA) and longtime champion of environmental, social, and justice causes, has died at 69. “Her quiet, tenacious brand of leadership is notable, especially in a profession where ego often proliferates,” says architect Kim Gould.  “It is as if her enormous humility gave her a change maker superpower, to the point that thinking ‘what would Marsha do’ is something others actually do.”

“But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise, it's not lapis, it's actually cerulean.” Miranda Priestly, the deliciously vicious fashion editor from The Devil Wear Prada, will be back in the U.K. spotlight in a new musical adaptation of the novel and film from Elton John. Vanessa Williams will be playing the devil herself

Restoration AI? Architects and designers have been using AI to help manage large data sets and visualize ideas for better decision-making. But can AI tools also help assess structural damage in aging infrastructure and underresourced communities? 

Anywhere this is a camera, this is a risk

In Chicago: A Love Supreme.

“For decades, Charlene Prempeh writes, ”Black designers have been sheathed in an invisible cloak.” Her new book uncovers just a few of the cracks and erasures and oversights: from postwar African-American cartoonist Jackie Ormes, to mid-century West African riffs on “Tropical Modernist” architecture pioneered by John Owusu Addo and Oluwole Olumuyiwa, to the rise of more recent Black British fashion stars like Bianca Saunders and Samuel Ross, this is one exhilerating (and expansive!) list.

Glen Weldon—host of NPR's buzzy Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast— calls the Yorgos Lanthimos film Poor Things a weird and intoxicating and unforgettable “visual tasting menu”—and makes his own (rather compelling) case for why it should win this year's Oscar for Production Design.

Design-led accessibility … at Starbucks.



Jobs | February 27