The other day someone at work asked if I could lead a staff training on “diversity in design.” When using photographs of people in design, you have to be very purposeful about the diversity of your subjects. To many of us it seems like no big deal, but as an Asian-American I can tell you that it does not go unnoticed when your photos lack diversity. But that much I could tell you right off the bat, and I wasn’t really sure how to fill an entire training on that subject.
So I did a quick google search of “diversity in design.” Interestingly enough, what I found was that most of the results pointed to a different issue that intrigued me more: the racial diversity of designers themselves.
A quick survey of some of the country’s top design agencies, schools, and design communities will show you that the field is predominantly white. It is also not hard to find Asian designers, especially in schools, but the number of black and hispanic designers is very very low (a top ad agency in New York, Pentagram, recently added one black designer named Eddie Opara to their staff)
To me, that says something about the overall stigma of the “designer” and the opportunities available to black and hispanic youth. I know that there are some programs out there, like Youth Design in Boston, dedicated to this issue specifically, by providing design resources and education to urban youth. I also know that certain chapters of AIGA also have active diversity initiatives that seek to promote diversity in the field, and I think this is great.
I am inspired to explore this opportunity for diversity in design. I think I would be interested in joining a design mentorship program of some sort, or in the distant future heading up a collaborative program that connects design students with young urban designers in the community.
More to come (hopefully) as these ideas evolve.