‘We Design: People. Practice. Progress.’ inspires next generation, celebrates design accomplishments.
DESIGN LEADER AND EDUCATOR DENISE RUSH, DEAN OF SCHOOL OF INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE AT THE BOSTON ARCHITECTURAL COLLEGE. PHOTO BY NANCY CARBONARO»
Bringing the transformative power of design to the forefront, Design Museum Everywhere’s virtual groundbreaking exhibition, We Design: People. Practice. Progress. highlights the lack of racial and gender diversity in the design field, demanding change in the industry and encouraging the next generation of designers to make an impact through design. We Design begins with the words of American activist Marian Wright Edelman: “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
RUWAN JAYAWEERA, ASSOCIATE PRINCIPAL, PAE ENGINEERS, IS A MECHANICAL ENGINEER EXPERIENCED IN DESIGN AND MODELING OF SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS. PHOTO COURTESY RUWAN JAYAWEERA»
The dynamic online exhibition tells stories of designers of different ages, genders, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and abilities—showcasing their unique personal lives and career paths through stories, oral histories, videos and photos, along with examples of their work throughout their careers including design process imagery and artifacts. Using quantitative and qualitative data visualizations and case studies, the exhibition further exposes the racial inequities in the design and innovation industries, with staggering statistics such as:
• 86% of graphic designers are white
• 69% of interior designers are women yet interior design firm leadership is only 25% female
• only 2% of licensed architects in the United States are Black while Black women represent 0.2% of architects
CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER AT NUVU STUDIO, SABA GHOLE IS AN URBANDESIGNER INNOVATING ON THE STRUCTURE OF PRE-COLLEGE EDUCATION. PHOTO BY NANCYCARBONARO»
“People in positions of power and education have an obligation to make the world a better place, help amplify the voices and work of others, and be a vehicle for change,” says Design Museum’s Executive Director Sam Aquillano. “Our mission in creating We Design was to illuminate a path in design for those from historically underinvested communities and to call upon the industry to reckon with the white, male-dominated history of design. And at the same time, the program can help everyone understand both how far we have come and how far we still need to go.”
MARISOL CENTENO, FOUNDER OF ESTUDIO MARISOL CENTENO & BI YUU, IS A TEXTILE DESIGNER USING HER SKILLS FOR POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE. PHOTO COURTESY MARISOL CENTENO»
A nonprofit, nomadic museum of design with a mission to bring the transformative power of design everywhere and inspire people by showing what’s possible through public exhibitions, events, and content, Design Museum Everywhere aims to educate people to become creative problem solvers using the design process, to transform using design to take action and make change, demonstrating its impact.
COMMUNITY- BASED ARTIST, DESIGNER AND COLLABORATOR SILVIA LÓPEZ CHAVEZ IS WORKING WITH ARCHITECTS AND ACTIVISTS TO DEVELOP AND EXECUTE PUBLIC WORKS. PHOTO COURTESY DOMINIC CHAVEZ»
Four years in the making, the Design Museum established a board of advisors made up of experts in equity, design, art, education, career development, human resources and others, with the desire to create an exhibition that would work as a starting point and resource for designers of all backgrounds to make the design field more equitable, just and inclusive. The team worked firsthand with all featured participants— through interviews, site visits, and collecting images and artifacts, to develop the exhibition.
Initially premiering in fall 2019 as a physical traveling exhibition, COVID-19 and the awakening to centuries of racial injustices caused Design Museum to transition We Design to an online resource to make the designers’ stories available to everyone, everywhere. The online experience features 15 different profiles of designers and is divided into seven different categories, so that viewers can explore the design subfields that most interest them, including arts and apparel, community, graphics, media and technology, objects, spatial and systems and strategy.
In October 2020, 15+ design leaders (some pictured here) were added to the mix—a testament to the exhibit’s resounding impact on the design and business community at large. With this expansion, We Design continues to push forward the next generation of designers and shine a light on the need for representation and concrete change in the industry.
Now a part of the museum’s permanent collection, We Design will forever be available online and continue to evolve and grow in the weeks, months and years ahead, featuring more career stories from individuals showcased in the original traveling exhibition. We Design is available to travel and will resume as a traveling exhibition once it is safe to do so.