Equity and Justice in the COVID Age

Read Time: 2 minutes

Throughout February, SEGD is focusing on the importance of experience design and experience designers to amplify, celebrate and bring Black culture and history to the forefront. To do this, we are sharing a curated weekly series of video presentations from 2020 featuring designers in our SEGD community speaking about their roles in presenting difficult historical topics while engaging audiences through specific design strategies. Next up, on February 17, is “Equity and Justice in the COVID Age” presented by Andy Chen and Waqas Jawaid of Isometric Studio.

It’s no secret we’re living through tough times—and times have been tougher for some more than others, in particular, marginalized groups who continue to struggle against a backdrop of pandemic, economic challenge and social injustice.

How can designers respond to these societal crises and help promote equity and justice in meaningful and effective ways?

That’s the central question Andy Chen and Waqas Jawaid, Principals of Isometric Studio, ask viewers in their video presentation “Equity and Justice in the COVID Age,” first given at SEGD’s “Exhibition + Experience” Symposium in (August 2020).

“As designers, writers and artists, our role—we think as a studio—is to bear witness, to confront injustice, and to be as fearless and as honest as we can be,” contends Jawaid. “And in doing so, we hold power to account.”

This is not an easy process, as Chen and Jawaid readily admit at the beginning of their presentation. It takes strength, patience and a lot of communication with clients to point out implicit bias and to find better ways to tackle difficult subjects when designing exhibitions and graphic identities.

To illustrate this, Chen and Waqas present six specific projects designed by Isometric Studio and which reflect their values as a design firm:

  1. “Who We Are: Visualizing New York City by the Numbers” mining societal data from the US Census and presented by the City Museum of New York
  2. “Contemporary Muslim Fashions” at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum
  3. Princeton University Center for Equality’s graphic identity and promotional materials
  4. “Germ City: Microbes and the Metropolis” exploring how different groups are stigmatized by disease, again at the City Museum of New York
  5. “Rising Together” looking at the Black experience with police in America and commissioned by Google NYC
  6. Happy Family Night Market in New York City

Watch the full presentation here!

Next week, SEGD will present:

Feb 24 — ”From Absence to Presence” featuring the commemoration to enslaved peoples at St. Mary’s College, Maryland (RE:site)

Don’t miss this fourth and final video in this month’s series!