03.24.20
Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Watch This Space

Design Observer Studio Sessions



We write you from our respective homes-turned-studios. Like many of you, we're trying to make a safe haven out of something that can feel like solitary confinement. Our current situation is unprecedented, and no one can predict what the future holds.

But if there’ s one thing creative people understand, it’ s the promise (and terrors) of a completely blank canvas.

This past Friday night, Design Observer launched a new initiative—Design Observer Studio Sessions—in which we hosted a virtual gathering of approximately 100 people from all over the world. We were joined by The Washington Post’s Harry Stevens and Alissa Walker from Curbed to talk about the way designers can connect to this crazy moment, from the visualization of viral epidemics to the communication of civic urgency to the unprecedented challenges of finding work in a landscape where quarantine is the new normal.

The result was extraordinary, the conversation spirited, the comments generous and the exchange at once dynamic and fruitful.

And we’re doing to do it again—so watch this space, and we’ll share details to keep you informed.

In the meantime, for those of you with a studio practice, this is your moment. It’s time to reclaim your territory. Part of that territory is material—where you live, which is now where you work. Part of it is sensory—how you live, and what nourishes you to do so. And part of it is social—how to connect and collaborate with others while you’re in self-imposed exile.

That appreciation for connection and community has always been at the core of our mission. Before social media (and long before social distancing) we created Design Observer as a digital platform to cast a wider net around the design professions, by encouraging conversation and commentary to connect our global community.

Today, seventeen years later, we’re stepping up to this challenge in radical new ways. As we seek to sustain our practices while being summoned indoors, we are reminded that creative people excel at reinventing ways to thrive in challenging times. This is what communities do for each other, and its what the design community does especially well. We came together after 9/11; again in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; once more in the aftermath of the 2016 US elections; and we are coming together now.

Meanwhile? Breathe deeply. Think imaginatively. And observe generously. It’s time to stand still and dig deeper. Remember: this is what you were trained to do. You got this.

And we got you.

Design Observer Studio Sessions animation created by Rachel Gogel.

Posted in: Watch This Space



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Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.

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