Episode 11: Passion, participation and representation, Pt. 2

In this episode of the Thinking through Design podcast, host Adam Fromme sits down with Dr. Jacinda Walker, Omari Souza and John Brown VI.

“We often tell students that you’re designing for audiences that you might not belong to, but we fail to actually show to students how to engage with things that are different in themselves.” Omari Souza

Their conversation shares the impact of design on marginalized communities, highlighting how design can unintentionally cause harm. They emphasize the importance of considering the “in group” as well as the inevitable and often invisible “out group” in every design project. And their conversation touches on the limitations of traditional design education and the need for involving the actual users, especially underrepresented groups, in the design process. They advocate for shifting from rule-based to value-based design decision making process to create more inclusive and equitable outcomes. The inclusion of youth voices in designing public spaces like parks is also discussed, emphasizing that young people have valuable insights that should be considered.

The guests are contributing authors to An Anthology of Blackness, The State of Black Design, edited by Terresa Moses and Omari Souza. This episode is the second in a two-part conversation to expand on the motivations, ideas and reflections within this publication.

Dr. Jacinda N. Walker, founder of designExplorr, is a prominent figure in the fields of design, diversity, research, and strategy, notably through her influential thesis on increasing diversity in design disciplines. She aims to expand diversity initiatives for underrepresented youth in corporations, educational institutions, and museums.

Omari Souza, an assistant professor at the University of North Texas, is the organizer of the State of Black Design Conference. A first-generation American of Jamaican descent, he has worked with notable organizations and holds degrees in Digital Media and Design; his research focuses on how visual narratives shape cultural perceptions.

John Brown VI is experienced in leading design research, user testing, and creating prototypes, presenting findings to stakeholders. He is passionate about using design and research to develop human-centered strategies that transform user experiences.

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