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 | July 29

Conceptual magazine covers, and why they matter. [JH]


Observed | July 22

Deem is a design journal established upon the notion that design is fundamentally a shared experience that adds value to communities. [JH]

Fast Company shares its favorite design books of summer. [JH]

Design and surrealism, an exhibition at the London Design Museum. [JH]

Claes Oldenberg, the Swedish-born American Pop artist known for his monumental sculptures of everyday objects, has died. He was 93. [JH]

Manuhuia Barcham, Managing Director, Archetekt, will be the next head of the AIGA Board of Directors. [JH]


Observed | July 15

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About (Design And) Sex But Were Afraid To Ask. [JH]

“He’s even branched out into graphic design himself, with a little help from Naoto Fukasawa, in a bizarre collaboration that has yet to see the light of day.” Kanye West does design. (And doesn’t.) [JH]

Sreoshy Banerjea has been appointed by Mayor Eric Adams as the next Executive Director of the New York City Public Design Commission. [JH]

“He’s not just a designer,” Steve Jobs once said of Jonathan Ive, then-design director at Apple. “He has more operational power than anyone at Apple, except me.” [JH]


Observed | July 08

The American designer Arnold Skolnick who—Inspired by Matisse’s cutouts—created the iconic Woodstock poster in 1969, has died. He was 85. [JH]

Where graphic design meets architecture: Thonik’s new studio, in Amsterdam. [JH]

Marcus Fairs, the founder and editor-in-chief of Dezeen, has died. The well-known design journalist was 54. [JH]

2022 SEGD Award winners announced. [JH]


Observed | June 17

Molly Young reviews Alexandra Lange’s new book, Meet Me by the Fountain: An Inside History of the Mall. (Read an excerpt here.) [JH]

Can you quantify creativity? [JH]

Zimbabwean born designer, visual artist, and educator Nontsikelelo Mutiti has been appointed the next Director of Graduate Studies in Graphic Design at Yale School of Art. [JH]


Observed | June 03

A critique of poster design goes viral. [JH]

Colin Forbes—who, with Alan Fletcher, Theo Crosby, Mervyn Kurlansky and Kenneth Grange co-founded the international design firm, Pentagram, in the early 1970s—has died at 94. [JH]

Are school shootings a design problem? Texas Senator Ted Cruz thinks so. [JH]]

In the United States, there are five requirements for design patentability. Do you know what they are? [JH]

Italian design legend Riccardo Falcinelli on design philosophy—and reality. [JH]

Read It And Weep Department: Just when you thought a more diverse cast of characters (think women and people of color, for starters) might actually be on their way to getting some long-overdue airtime, Austrian brothers Jono and Benji Bergmann release a film on ... Bruce Mau! [JH]


Observed | April 29

Creatives for Ukraine, an open platform with over one thousand digital artworks submitted showing solidarity with Ukraine. [BV]

Trained as an Industrial designer at Notre Dame, Michigan state senator Mallory McMorrow takes on the GOP. [JH]

Yup. [JH]

Designers! They’re just like us! “Grey’s friend Jamie Lee Curtis helped design the cover of Out of the Corner, using what she described in a phone interview as “D.I.Y. photoshop phone app skills.” [JH]


Observed | April 26

Award-winning American artist and illustrator, Marshall Arisman, has died at 83. Steve Heller’s tribute is here. [JH]


Observed | April 08

Kevin Lippert, the founder of Princeton Architectural Press, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 63. [JH]

Forbes offers “graphic design on a budget” advise—in the name of leadership. [JH]

The saga to redesign Rhode Island’s license plate continues, with design educators weighing in. [JH]

An early Easter gift for a grateful librarian: Charles Darwin’s notebooks, long missing, mysteriously returned! (Via Jen Renninger) [JH]

Educator, artist, activist and civil rights era photographer Doris Derby has died. She was 82. [JH]



Jobs | August 14