Celebrating the African-American Practitioners Absent From Way Too Many Classroom Lectures by Madeleine Morley, Eye on Design, 2018 and Typography as a Radical Act in an Industry Ever-dominated by White Men by Silas Munro, Eye on Design, 2019, Design Gets More Diverse by Alice Rawsthorn, NYTimes, 2011.

  • How do we change the commercial design field to include a diversity of voices and visions?
  • What will the commercial design field and the study of design history look like in 20 years?

With the lack of diversity present in the commercial design field, I believe it’s time to make some changes on how we teach design history. As of now, most of the designers present in design history books were white and male. While they have certainly contributed a lot to the design field, our textbooks seem to barely discuss the contributions to design made by black, Asian, and Hispanic/Latin designers. I believe that in order to make the commercial design field more diverse, we need to first start by discussing the design contributions and history of minority groups within our curriculum. One of the reasons why less black, brown, and Asian students choose to enter the design field is because of a lack of representation and design role models they can look up to. By teaching the history and contributions to design made by minority designers such as W.E.B. DuBois, I believe more students of different races and ethnicities will feel more included and represented within the design field and therefore, create a more diverse field of commercial design. I believe within the next 20 years, we will definitely see more designers of different ethnicities enter the commercial design field. Exhibits such as “As, Not For; Dethroning Our Absolutes” are helping to draw more attention to the black designers that design history has forgotten to give its praise to. I believe through more exhibits like these, we can encourage further discussion into the contributions to design made by minority artists. I hope we’ll eventually see the contributions made to design by these artists within our curriculum as our commercial design field begins to become more eclectic and embracing of ideals and designs from a variety of different cultures.

Hypothesis Annotations

  1. Here, Locke suggests that we assess our subjectivities while also being cognizant that “norms guide our behavior as well as guide our reasoning.”
  2. What would happen if we made graphic design history more equitable, including designers from more than just European and—rarely—Asian decent?
  3. Graphic design doesn’t have to be synonymous with the exclusionary “independence” in the Declaration of Independence, seemingly declaring such for white men only.
  4. Typography is notorious for its racial homogeneity. The two main pathways to designing fonts are from tech and design, which are industries dominated by white men.
  5. Seals contacted her about his idea to start a type foundry that could represent diverse experiences in typographic form. “Hurry up and do it before someone else does!” she told him. And so he did.
  6. Seals is reticent to connect Vocal Type’s releases to the broader legacy of utopian-inspired design. But he’s also cautiously optimistic about the potential of treating typography as a starting point for deeper conversations about culture and representation.
  7. And design increasingly reflects the cultural diversity both of its established Western markets and expanding ones in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where a new generation of designers is emerging.
  8. Still, relatively few black teens are choosing to pursue careers in design.
  9. We need the best possible designers, and won’t get them if they only come from selected areas of society. And design culture will stultify unless it reflects society as a whole.