Design for Good Webcast Series: Episode Five
Design for Good Webcast Series: Episode Five
Design for Good Webcast Series: Episode Five

Design Justice Practice: Spreading Power

The fifth episode of the Design for Good webcast series, “Design justice practice: Spreading power,” took place on May 12, 2017.

About this episode

Design justice practice; racial justice by design: What happens when design aims to bulldoze privileges, break down power dynamics, and resist biases and procedures that prevent underserved communities from equal access to power?


On safe spaces and institutional racism:

In his provocative presentation, social impact architect-designer Bryan Lee Jr. provided historic context for these systemic issues of oppression and spoke of the endemic ways in which institutions maintain control, power, and bias through space and places, starting with the seemingly mundane, like street signs and wayfinding. “The design profession is an institution,” said Lee Jr., “and, like all institutions, it imposes its power through policies, procedures, and practices and is subject to its own inherited biases.”

Lee advocated for civic engagement that truly empowers the community to have greater access to design, play a role in what he calls the stratification of design, and become co-creators of the creative process—not just passive beneficiaries.

On the fight for equity is going to take time and personal engagement:

“Each action is a drop in the bucket,” said Antionette Carroll who asked, "If systems of oppression, injustice, and inequities are designed, why don’t we use design to dismantle them? It’s human-made—so let’s use human made approaches to correct it.”

But to her, human-centered design isn’t enough, and neither is design thinking. Instead she proposes to use equity-centered design, which doesn’t start with empathy, but with humility. Carroll advocates that we recognize the barriers, power dynamics, and implicit bias that prevent authenticity in the work we are trying to create. Echoing Bryan Lee’s recommendation for new stratas of design, she also believes we need to create a new form of civic leader as an everyday community designer. “Someone able to create serendipitous collisions,” said Carroll, who will give citizens the ability of address social issues in their own backyards.

About the panel

  • Antionette D. Carroll, executive director and founder of Creative Reaction Lab, president of AIGA St. Louis and founding chair of AIGA Diversity & Inclusion
  • Bryan Lee Jr., , architectural designer and design justice advocate, founder of Colloqate Design

Additional resources

Learn more about AIGA’s Design for Good webcast series

The Design for Good webcast series is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional funding provided by IBM.

Tags Design for Good social responsibility social issues design thinking