The Editors | Essays

Remembering Hugh

I have seen the Future

It is with great sorrow that we share the news that Hugh Weber—network theorist, design advocate, and one of our industry’s most evangelical believers in the power of design and community—has died. He was 45 and lived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

As our Managing Director from 2020 to 2021, Hugh helped Design Observer rethink many things, from strategy and outreach to new opportunities for conversation and content distribution. Our Studio Sessions, launched during the early days of the pandemic, were classic Hugh: spirited, serendipitous conversations with artists, architects, and authors. Our conferences were better for his input, our podcasts clearer for his vision, and The Cooperative—an editorial experiment on Substack—benefited unquestionably from his own love of, and devotion to, community.

Community, in Hugh’s vision, was a movable feast, a chance to connect the dots and reframe the conversation around all kinds of people and places and things. From Swarthmore College, where he was an unlikely pursuer of an African American studies degree, to Capitol Hill, where he honed his skills in negotiation, tolerance, and action; to his roles as consultant, board trustee, social activist, publisher, and proud parent, Hugh was a tireless, curious, passionate advocate for the power of people working together to make a difference.

Sixty years ago this week, Leo Lionni published Swimmy—a children’s book about cooperation, difference, kindness—and safety in numbers. The story of a little fish building with patience and fortitude could not be a more suitable model for Hugh Weber, who often cited Lionni’s book in his own work. “He saw his role in life was to attempt to ‘be the eye’,” explains Forest Young, “and that his gift was that he was able to see the beauty of the larger community”.

This larger community owes much to Hugh, too much, and he has left us far too soon. We send our love to his wife Amy, his children Finn and Emerson, and to all of you who were, like us, fortunate to have counted him among us. May his memory be a blessing.

Posted in: Obituaries

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