Connect 4: Design Bridges

Design shapes our world, no question. But who gets to do the shaping? The professional graphic design field, like so many other industries and spaces, has long been dominated by white people. Indigenous, Black, and other designers of color are changing that dynamic; design students have a chance to change it further.

The young creatives of color in this podcast are starting that journey. Here, they talk with their mentors—some of today’s most influential BIPOC graphic designers—about finding inspiration and confidence; beginning a career in the arts (and explaining it to your parents!); and what it’s like working within the largely white design field.

The mentors and mentees in this podcast were brought together by Connect 4: Networking for Equality in Design. Connect 4 is a growing initiative and current collaboration between the Mercy College Design + Animation program, Pentagram, and design leaders that supports design students of color by opening real pathways to leadership. Learn more about Connect 4 on Instagram: @cnnct4.

This podcast was produced by Hawk and Paw Productions in collaboration with Mercy College, Pentagram, and Design Observer. The theme music was composed by Isabel Sanchez.

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.


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.


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.


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?


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


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.


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.


Jonathan Jackson and Avalon Garrick: Time for Change
Jonathan Jackson, Creative Director at We Should Do It All, and design student Avalon Garrick talk about the joys and challenges of finding their footing as creatives.



Observed | June 09

Is protest more potent when you adopt the typeface of your subject? Don’t miss these photos. [JH]


Observed | June 08

Artist Corita Kent’s famed Hollywood studio is saved in a landmark historical preservation victory. [JH]


Observed | June 01

A fascinating look back at the internet’s major milestones. [JH]


Observed | May 27

Next week marks the 100 year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the focus of a new historic center, Greenwood Rising, opening next week. “Greenwood Rising honors the icons of Black Wall Street, memorializes the victims of the massacre, and examines the lessons of the past to inspire meaningful, sustainable action in the present.” [BV]


Observed | May 26

How Colonial Pipeline’s archaic branding told us all we needed to know about the company. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]

President Biden revokes Trump‘s controversial classical architecture order. [JH]


Observed | May 25

Design Twitter goes wild over David Hockney’s typographic reworking of the Picadilly Circus logo. [JH]


Observed | May 19

Join the Society of Design Arts (SoDA) and AIGA Baltimore for an online talk by Rafael Cardoso, part of a virtual series created to promote the rich and plural histories of Latin American production in design. Free registration here. [JH]


Observed | May 18

After a decade of design and planning, +Pool has been approved by the city of New York. Listen to Michael Bierut’s conversation with founder and designer, Archie Lee Coates IV, on Season 6 of DBBD. [JH]


Observed | May 12

Kerby Jean-Raymond will be the first Black designer to show at Couture Week in Paris. Listen to Michael Bierut’s interview with him on Season 6 of The Design of Business | The Business of Design here. [JH]

The kind of speculative mashup you need right now. [JH]


Observed | May 10

“Nothing is unaffordable in a C.G.I. dreamscape, and rent is never due.” Anna Weiner on the speculative design world of “renderporn”. [JH]


Observed | May 09

Ellen Degeneres launches a new reality show to find the next great furniture designer. [JH]


Observed | May 07

Infusing design with equity: one designer’s perspective. [JH]


Observed | May 06

Last week Microsoft announced that they wanted the Twitterverse‘s help picking a new default font. This seemingly trivial choice by Microsoft will determine what works looks like for hundreds of millions of people. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | May 05

In conjunction with the Walker Art Center, BluDot announces OpenStudio: a free design program for kids aged 9 to 14. [JH]


Observed | May 04

Titus Kaphar signs with UTA where he’ll start developing film projects based on his paintings. [JH]


Observed | May 03

A new site celebrating the Uruguayan publication La Semana highlights the personal and public triumphs of this memorable newsweekly. (In English and Spanish.) [JH]

Rhode Island’s license plate—known affectionately as the wave, and designed by Rhode Island native and RISD graduate Tyler Smith—will be redesigned by the, um, public. Holding an open design contest is bold and exciting;, writes architecture critic Will Morgan. It is also a recipe for disaster. [JH]

Wallpaper offers a superb roundup of advocacy and support groups working for equity, inclusion, and change in deisgn and related industries. [JH]


Observed | April 28

Lehrer Architects LA‘s second Tiny Home Village project has opened this week to residents in North Hollywood. Yet tiny houses aren’t always loved. Discuss! [BV]

How to really look at art: an eight-step guide by Antwaun Sargent. [JH]


Observed | April 27

Dwight Garner reviews the new novel by Rachel Cusk and notes its unusual (and seemingly deliberate) type choice: Optima! “Optima is unusual to see in a novel,” Garner observes. “I tried using it to type this piece. It made me feel I was working on Laurie Anderson’s laptop.” [JH]

At the nation’s newspaper of record, the term “Op-Ed”—a relic of an older age and nod to an older print newspaper design—is being retired from duty. [JH]

How mathematicians use their chalkboards to reveal the conceptual and visual beauty of their discipline: a new book by photographer Jessica Wynne. [JH]


Observed | April 21

Astrid Cooper is a curator in Bath, England. Also, she is five years old. [JH]

A new illustrated children’s book—featuring a flying gherkin—from Foster + Partners. [JH]


Observed | April 20

Introducing the whitest paint ever invented. [JH]

Just in time for Earth Day: Belgian artist Alain Verschueren’s Portable Oasis lets you spend quality time in the garden while social distancing at the same time. [JH]


Observed | April 19

Influential American architect Donald P. Ryder—who in partnership with J. Max Bond, Jr. was widely regarded as the most influential African-American architect in New York—has died at the age of 94. [JH]



Jobs | June 13