"You can't be what you can't see," said Marian Wright Edelman, President & Founder of the Children's Defense Fund and a longtime advocate for disadvantaged Americans. It's difficult, for example, for the design industry to be diverse when that diversity is largely invisible. Some 86% of graphic designers are white; just 2% of architects are black. And while 69% of interior designers are women, the leadership of interior design firms is just 25% female.
Along those lines, Edelman's phrase is the motto used by the Design Museum's "We Design: People. Practice. Progress" exhibition, which seeks to highlight what we're not seeing in the field: Who are these 14% of graphic designers who aren't white, the architects that are black, the women that are in design leadership positions? The exhibition--which was originally a physical one, but was moved online after the COVID-19 outbreak--gathers as many of those missing stories as possible.
We Design: People. Practice. Progress. is an exhibition program designed to inspire young adults, particularly women and those from underserved communities of color, to explore careers in creative industries. The program explores reasons for the lack of diversity in the creative industries through quantitative and qualitative data visualizations. The exhibitions also features a significant group of people of various ages, genders, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and identities — showcasing their unique career paths through stories, photos, and videos, along with artifacts and examples of their professional work from their careers. The program also includes events for young adults, their parents, and professionals to learn about these creative careers.
"We Design is now part of the Design Museum's permanent collection," writes Sam Aquillano, Design Museum Executive Director, "meaning it will always be on view online, and once we're all gathering together again, we'll resume traveling it to venues around the country.
"We have more career stories from individuals we featured in the traveling exhibition; we'll be adding those and more in the weeks, months, and years ahead. These are small steps, we can and will do more; you can learn more about our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives here."