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 | September 17

From Aunt Jemima to AI, How Racism Creeps Into Design: an insightful video from Bloomberg Equality. [JH]

The 40 winners of this year’s Posterheroes Becoming e-Quals competition have been announced. Congrats to all! [BV]

German artist Max Hattler finds inspiration in the immense size, muted colors, and relentless repetition of the facades of Hong Kong’s apartment high-rises. [BV]

Swatch Bharat—online collections of Indian native aesthetics, created to preserve artifacts disappearing due to globalization—has completed their eighth collection. Get inspired![BV]


Observed | September 10

Rachel Berger’s Shooter Box—an exhibition protesting the United States military’s use of Microsoft Xbox controllers as battle equipment—now on view at California College of the Arts. [JH]

Pantone No. 1837, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and a conspiracy theory about art and commerce. [JH]

Designing a better airport. [JH]

Revisiting a seminal guerilla signage project, twenty years later. [JH]


Observed | September 03

Everyone’s a (design) critic! The internet goes wild—not in a good way—for the cover art “design” for Drake’s new album. [JH]

A new graphic novel on censorship—from MITPress—gathers insights and highlights from a profession under attack. [JH]

Rebranding Chernobyl with a logo that decays over time. (Via Michael Bierut.) [JH]

Today we chase after information, without gaining knowledge. We take note of everything, without gaining insight. We communicate constantly, without participating in a community... This is how information develops a lifeform: inexistent and impermanent. [JH]


Observed | August 27

A spectacularly researched—and meticulously produced—history of design and visual culture in Louisiana. (Via Nancy Sharon Collins.) [JH]

Alan Heller, who collaborated with Mario Bellini, Massimo and Lella Vignelli, and others to produce memorable objects in plastic, dies at 81. [JH]

Originally located in Marshall Field’s unused 1905 South Prairie Avenue mansion, The New Bauhaus school opened its doors on October 18, 1937. Bauhäusler László Moholy-Nagy, director, began to shape the original Bauhaus curriculum to suit his purposes. Gone were the craft-based distinctions that helped enforce gendered segregation and discrimination in the German workshops. An in-depth look at the founding of American Bauhaus. [BV]




Observed | August 20

Preserving Black historical resorts is a radical act: Amid the violent segregation of the Jim Crow era, leaning into Black joy, leisure, and recreation was a form of quiet radical resistance. [BV]

Our favorite water bottle designers have debuted their newest product, a sleek, steel vessel for all your portable beverage needs. [BV]

Populism—fascism—and design: Derek Hill explains. (Via Mike Errico.) [JH]

Punishment for ... a logo? [JH]

Data visualization in three parts: Mars rover, seabed geochemistry, and drought and climate change. [BV]

How the ice cream truck made summer cool. [BV]



Jobs | September 26