The Black Experience in Design spotlights teaching practices, research, stories, and conversations from a Black/African diasporic lens.
Excluded from traditional design history and educational canons that heavily favor European modernist influences, the work and experiences of Black designers have been systematically overlooked in the profession for decades. However, given the national focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the aftermath of the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, educators, practitioners, and students now have the opportunity—as well as the social and political momentum—to make long-term, systemic changes in design education, research, and practice, reclaiming the contributions of Black designers in the process.
The Black Experience in Design, an anthology centering a range of perspectives, spotlights teaching practices, research, stories, and conversations from a Black/African diasporic lens. Through the voices represented, this text exemplifies the inherently collaborative and multidisciplinary nature of design, providing access to ideas and topics for a variety of audiences, meeting people as they are and wherever they are in their knowledge about design. Ultimately, The Black Experience in Design serves as both inspiration and a catalyst for the next generation of creative minds tasked with imagining, shaping, and designing our future.
About the Author
Anne H. Berry is a writer and educator whose research focuses on race/representation in the field of design. Her writing has been published in AIGA’s Eye on Design, Communication Arts, and the inaugural issue of the anthology Recognize featuring essays and commentary from indigenous people and people of color.
Kareem Collie is a designer, strategist, and educator specializing in collaborative and human-centered design approaches to capture, reveal, and produce visual and experiential narratives. He holds a master’s degree from NYU in culture and communication studies and a bachelor’s in fine arts from Pratt Institute in communication design.
Penina Acayo Laker is a designer and educator whose practice and research is centered around topics that utilize a human-centered approach to solving social problems, locally and internationally. She is currently broadening the scope and access of design education to young people in Uganda through her DesignEd workshops.
Dr. Lesley-Ann Noel focuses on equity, social justice, and the experiences of people who are often excluded from design education, research and practice. She promotes greater critical awareness among designers and design students by introducing critical theory concepts and vocabulary into the design studio e.g. through The Designer’s Critical Alphabet and the Positionality Wheel.
Jennifer Rittner is a writer, educator and communications strategist who teaches in the graduate and undergraduate design programs at the School Visual Arts, including courses in design history, design for social value, design & politics, and thesis. She has been published in the New York Times, DMI: Journal, AIGA Eye on Design, Core77, and Against the Grain; and in 2021 served as guest editor for a special issue on Design & Policing published by Design Museum Everywhere magazine. She frequently writes and lectures about design and social justice. A daughter of women, Jennifer centers the voices of her near ancestors Bernadette, Aurea, and Dianqui in her practices.
Kelly Walters is a designer, educator and founder of the multidisciplinary design studio Bright Polka Dot. Her ongoing design research interrogates the complexities of identity formation, systems of value, and the shared vernacular in and around Black visual culture. She is the author of Black, Brown + Latinx Design Educators: Conversations on Design and Race published by Princeton Architectural Press. Kelly is an Assistant Professor and Associate Director of the BFA Communication Design Program at Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York.