Design for Democracy

Sam Holleran
Designing the “Real Deal”
Is there room for capital-D design in a political landscape that equates its absence with authenticity? We examine the political design landscape two years after the red MAGA cap.


James Cartwright + Lilly Smith
Flipping the Script
How two progressive organizations, Tactical 2017 and Flippable, use open-source data and strategic voting, and why that might dictate the future of our elections.


Lilly Smith
Artifact: 2000 Palm Beach County Ballot
This article is the first in a new and ongoing Design Observer series, Artifact, which takes one piece out of AIGA’s Design Archives and asks a design expert in the topic being observed to reflect on its current impact in the present. This week: Marcia Lausen looks at the 2000 Palm Beach County Ballot.


Laetitia Wolff
Design for Democracy: Building Community Power
Design articulates choice at a time when there are seemingly no choices or only binary choices.


Lilly Smith
Double or Nothing: Can designers erase the gender pay gap?
On Equal Pay Day, Heather Stern, Emily Oberman, and Laura Kunkel, leaders of the new AIGA Women Lead campaign Double or Nothing, talk about what they’re doing to make the gender pay gap a thing of the past.


James Cartwright
Can Demagogues be Designed out of Democracy?
Dutch transition designer Rudy van Belkom and Irish digital design agency FrontEnd are leading the charge to combat democratic dissatisfaction. Is it a pipe dream, or can we design a different way?



Observed | August 19

Visual identity for Re:publica rebels against digital culture with reams of text. Fertig Design has created a visual identity for the Re:publica conference that uses lengthy passages of text and typography instead of conventional graphics to pay “homage to the written word”. [LY]

This is the world’s worst UI—and it speaks volumes about design today. The Antwerp design agency Bagaar built an impossible form for you to fill out—and it puts all your design assumptions to the test. [LY]


Observed | August 15

Roger Ballen revisits his never-before-published Woodstock photos. The internationally renowned artist was just 19 when he took his trusty Nikon to the festival. Only one was ever published—till now. [LY]

Google has a secret design library. The company’s industrial design team shares a handful of titles from its studio library, which is curated by team members. Here are 35 of its best books. [LY]

Morphosis is designing LA’s Korean American National Museum. The museum will incorporate elements of traditional Korean houses and lots of greenery. [LY]


Observed | August 14

Be water’ The Hong Kong protest mantra encourages fluidity and adaptability to any situation influences how art is designed and distributed. [LY]

London design agency OMSE has created an augmented reality campaign for cultural venue Printworks London that transforms static typography into immersive three-dimensional animations. [LY]


Observed | August 12

Why are all recreational vehicles covered in swirls and swooshes? (via James I. Bowie) [LY]


Observed | August 08

New York knows its arts organizations have a diversity problem. The city asked cultural institutions, including museums and performing arts centers, to draw up plans to make their staff and board members more diverse. [LY]

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to make circular design “the new normal” by persuading 20 million designers to help transform the global economy from a linear to a circular model. [LY]


Observed | August 07

Domino’s Pizza is locked in a legal battle over the future of web design. The pizza company has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear a three-year-old case that deals with whether Domino’s is legally required to make its websites and apps accessible to all users. [LY]


Observed | August 06

Zeyu Cai and Sibei Li win The Peoples Notre-Dame Design Competition. The competition aimed to create a new vision for the future of the iconic cathedral after the Notre Dame fire in April this year. Called Paris Heartbeat, the winning design creates a literal heartbeat for the city. [LY]

Imran Chaudhri, one of six designers who created the interface of the very first iPhone, left Apple to start his own company Humane. He now wants to use A.I., machine learning, and computer vision technology to improve our relationships with our devices. [LY]


Observed | August 05

To mark 100 years since women were given the right to vote in the United States, Baltimore Museum of Art has announced its whole year of exhibitions will be dedicated to artists who identify as female. [BV]

The Aspen Institute center devoted to Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer will open in 2022 and will have galleries and educational programs and study Bayer’s work. [BV]

“We may not have designed the systems or the community, but I do believe we have a responsibility to redesign them.” — Hugh Webber on talking to design communities all over the country. [BV]


Observed | August 01

The boundary-breaking women of New York’s graffiti scene. [BV]


Observed | July 31

When Ellen Lupton said typography was the common currency of graphic design, she wasn’t kidding. Legendary type foundry Monotype sold to private equity firm for $825 million. [JH]

Time seems to go from past to future, not in reverse. Matt Farr asks: What if time doesn’t even have a direction? [BV]


Observed | July 30

“I like work that just feels a bit wrong.” An interview with Richard Turley. [MB]

Disruption—a dressed-up version of scab-ism—does not make the world a better place. [JH]

We live in an environment where there are moving images constantly around us....But in 1897, this was startling and new and completely revolutionary. MOMA film curator Dave Kehr narrates a different way of looking at early films. [BV]


Observed | July 29

Scientists in Germany have developed an actual, intradermal tattoo that can change colour in response to changing levels of glucose, albumin, or pH. [BV]


Observed | July 25

Learning from Breezewood, Pennsylvania; Or, A Significance for Meme Culture, Peak Oil, Highway Engineering, Local Politics, Fine Art Photography, Urban Planning, and Taco Bell. It‘s official: Amanda Kolson Hurley has written the design essay of the year. [MB]

The utopian ‘feminist apartment hotels’ of Charlotte Perkins Gilman were considered to be “the most dangerous enemy American domesticity has yet had to encounter”. [BV]


Observed | July 24

Sappi is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their Ideas that Matter program and they want you to snap a picture of what inspires you to design for good and share it with the hashtag #IdeasThatMatter. [BV]

“‘Imaginary’ universes are so much more beautiful than this stupidly constructed ‘real’ one.” [MB]


Observed | July 23

Lisa Sanders has done something extraordinary: in a world spinning out of control, this is what humanism looks like. [JH]


Observed | July 19

Today’s New York Times feature on the fire at Notre Dame has superb photography & dazzling interactive animations, but nothing is more mesmerizing than these sketches made at the scene by French firefighter Laurent Clerjeau. A landmark piece of visual journalism. [MB]

Everyone at this new advertising agency has served time in prison. [BV]



Jobs | August 20