Alison Place | Interview
On Fighting the Typatriarchy
Jessica Helfand + Ellen McGirt | Audio
S11E6: Why an Inclusive Global Economy is a Redesign Project with Mastercard’s Shamina Singh
Jessica Helfand | Interviews
Josef Koudelka, Next: A Visual Biography: Ten Questions for Melissa Harris
06.11.24 | Audio
S11E5: WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert on Talent, Activism, and the Business of Basketball
By Jessica Helfand + Ellen McGirt
In this episode of DB|BD, Cathy Engelbert talks about the meteoric ascension of the WNBA and the unusual mix of talent, activism, fans, and business that make it a league like no other.



06.10.24 | Essay
Oh My, AI
By Kevin Bethune
Adobe customers believed that a recent update to the terms of service meant that the company would use their work to train AI models.



05.28.2024 | Audio
S11E4: Richard Buery and Robin Hood Are Building a Coalition to Tackle Poverty in NYC
By Jessica Helfand + Ellen McGirt
In this episode of DB|BD, Robin Hood CEO Richard Beury explains what is driving the uptick in poverty in New York City, how effective partnerships are built, and why he’s betting that AI will become an unexpectedly powerful poverty-fighting tool.



05.28.2024 | Essay
How to give peace a chance at the office
By Ellen McGirt
The CEO of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding thinks business can lead the way in religious inclusion.



05.14.2024 | Audio
S11E3: The Healthy Materials Lab says Everyone Deserves a Healthier Home
By Jessica Helfand + Ellen McGirt
In this episode of DB|BD, Healthy Material Lab co-founders Jonsara Ruth and Alison Mears explain why they focus on affordable housing, what harmful materials are lurking in our homes and how healthy alternatives can be made accessible and affordable at scale.



03.05.2024 | Profile
Celebrating Black History, Joy, and Creativity Through the Art of Flowers
By L’Oreal Thompson Payton
John Caleb Pendleton learned to arrange flowers as a creative outlet and a way to support his mental health. Now, his floral art and installations inform a movement for Black justice, memory, triumph, and joy.



05.11.2024 | Essay
College administrators have failed a basic leadership test
By Ellen McGirt
The sit-in is not a new protest tactic on college campuses. Why were the pro-Palestinian encampments such a threat?



04.30.2024 | Audio
S11E2: How Franklin Leonard is using The Black List to Redesign Hollywood
By Jessica Helfand + Ellen McGirt
In this episode of DB|BD, Healthy Material Lab co-founders Jonsara Ruth and Alison Mears explain why they focus on affordable housing, what harmful materials are lurking in our homes and how healthy alternatives can be made accessible and affordable at scale.



04.26.2024 | Essay
Lessons learned from a "Freedom Seder"
By Ellen McGirt
This version of the Passover story is a model of inclusion.



04.17.2024 | Audio
S11E1: How to Throw a Party to Change the World with Carrie Mae Weems
By Jessica Helfand + Ellen McGirt
In this episode, Carrie Mae Weems talks about her work, her role in public life, the intersecting crises in the world, and the power of convening people through art to confront big truths.



10.12.2023 | The Design Observer Twenty
The Redesigners
By Ellen McGirt
The Design Observer Twenty is our curated selection of twenty remarkable people, projects, and big ideas solving an urgent social need.



04.15.2024 | Essays
Something to celebrate on Tax Day
By Ellen McGirt
A new online tool gives Americans a free and easy way to file federal taxes. It’s equitable by design.



03.14.23 | Audio
S10E12: Decolonizing Design
By Dana Arnett + Kevin Bethune
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.



04.03.2024 | Essays
Can AI wrest us from the grip of conspiracy theories?
By Ellen McGirt
New research suggests that AI might have the patience, knowledge — and respect — to help people with deep and wrong convictions change their minds.



01.19.24 | Education
Marshall “Mr. P” Pollard and The Creative School
By Delaney Rebernik
Empowering DC’s young “queens and kings” to reclaim health and wealth for their community by designing alternatives to an education system that’s failing Black and brown kids.



03.20.24 | ESSAYS
A Nobel Prize-winning economist wonders if economists are “the problem”
By Ellen McGirt
A Nobel Prize-winning economist asks powerful questions about markets, power, and inequality. What if his field has been the problem all along?



12.14.23 | Audio
Design As S1E5: Citizenship Part 1
By Shari Davis, Oliver Escobar, Lily Tsai + Lee Moreau
On this episode, Shari Davis, Oliver Escobar, Lily Tsai, and Lee Moreau begin a discussion on citizenship and design.



03.13.24 | Essays
The advertising industry has work to do
By Ellen McGirt
Troubling testimony from Black talent in advertising shows an industry struggling with inclusion.



10.01.23 | The Design Observer Twenty
Dr. Ismail Badjie
By Ellen McGirt
An innovative model delivers dignified, community-centered preventive health services in The Gambia.



03.06.24 | Essay
Insights from the largest-ever survey of trans people
By Ellen McGirt
Trans people are vulnerable, yes, but also happy. And that matters.



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



02.21.24 | Essay
Navigating the fraught new reality of DEI
By Ellen McGirt
Despite the backlash, DEI work remains popular and necessary.





Observed


“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.

Speaking of AI, Kevin Bethune would like a word with Adobe. 



Jobs | July 21