Matt McGillvray

Design's Role in Climate Change
October 5, 2021
Matt: Honestly, I think that a lot more of design needs to be started with the end game of the product in mind. Needs to be started with getting rid of the idea of planned obsolescence, and just stuff that lasts for two years and then you buy a new one.

[intro music]

Bruno: Hello everyone. And welcome to the first ever Design is for Everyone episode. A show where we talk about all the sides of design with guests from all around the globe, and where today we'll be sharing a moment with Matt McGillvray.

Matt is a graphic designer by training with a soft spot for books, journaling, and looking for the bigger picture. That last one is what led him down the intersection of design and climate change, the main topic for the episode. Hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did and learned with all the great references Matt just keeps bringing up.

Okay. Um, I guess we'll just start. I don't really have like a proper intro since this is the first episode. I think I'm just going to keep this because I'm not as professional as everyone thinks I am.

So hi again, Matt.

Matt: Hello.

Bruno: Welcome to the Design is for Everyone podcast. And I would like to start by asking you to tell me and tell everyone, listening to the podcast a little bit about your background, when it comes to design. Where do you come in contact with design and what that, what that is?

Matt: I came into design because I've always been a fan of graphical elements. I've not always known that I have been. I've always picked out people's logos. I was a fan of an American football team called the Green Bay Packers. And their logo, that it was just like the letters were written in a stents old design. And for some reason I always loved writing out the names of football teams. Trying to copy their logos and stuff. Since I've had access to things like album covers in books and posters. It's always been something that's interested me. Even if it wasn't the first thing that I wanted to be.

At the end of high school, I wanted to be a painter. But I decided that when I entered college, that I would go to college, to be a graphic designer out of practicality. But, I mean, clearly I was going to have a career in painting and that's what I was going to do. And I was going to be famous for that.

Bruno: Which is a path for a lot of people, right? Like lots of people.

Matt: Yeah. Definitely really, really common career paths. Just get famous, doing...

Bruno: Painting.

Matt: Of course. Yeah. Definitely a secure way to go about having a career.

Bruno: But it's interesting because it's one of those things like everyone has their story. Your started with painting. Look, mine started with animation. Disney, Pixar, whatever you, you could get me trying to move things around, I loved that idea.

But then you started working, you get into the world. Nowadays, you talk a lot about climate design. Wich is a very specific thing and new for most people, I would say. What is that about? How do you get there from liking painting, arts, and all of these graphical elements that you've just talked about? And then just becoming a designer that focus on the topics of climate change and everything else.

Matt: Getting to the point where I realized that I actually liked these things that I just mentioned before, logos and other graphical elements. Realizing that those designs were all part of the world. They were all part of things that I saw all the time. And it wasn't until I started being a designer that I realized that all of that was connected.

Another thing that I've always loved is reading. From my entire life. I've loved reading.

And a few years ago, I started the practice of keeping a reading journal. I was doing a lot more non-fiction books, a lot more books about social issues, politics, history and things like that. And I started taking notes and as I was taking notes, I would notice similar subjects popping up.

Similar people, popping up. And so in my notes, I would basically connect those things from, oh, this person that's mentioned in this book is also mentioned on page 207 of this other book for a different reason.

Bruno: That's a very organized way of thinking. Oh, well, I would say that I wouldn't be able to do that.

Matt: Well, it wasn't planned.

Bruno: Yeah. It gets to your naturally.

Matt: It just sort of became the easiest way to organize that information. I was doing a lot of getting books out of the library. And so I wanted to retain that information. So that meant I had to write things down. And once those things started to... once I had seen them happening again and again, and again, the way that I journaled became different, it became even more organized. And I was able to see more clearly how things like, for example, in America, how capitalism and politics are really tightly bound up.

Reading about all of these topics, helped me to then connect that to all the different types of design that I had been seeing growing up. And beginning to see that design is more than just between a client and a designer. And... it's something that I knew intrinsically before. As: I'm the viewer of this particular album art that makes me want to buy it.

But it took a little bit of time for that to sink in. That what it is that we make, isn't just between the people that are commissioning it and the people that are making it.

And the moment that I really started down the path of climate was... I had read a book by a former commissioner of the FDA. His name is David Kessler. He wrote a book called A Question of Intent. And it was about his time as the commissioner of the FDA, and his investigation into tobacco companies.

Bruno: Hmm. Very specific topic.

Matt: Well, here in America, at least, for decades we had tobacco companies that were saying that they didn't... you know, their product doesn' t cause cancer.

And they had all of this media. They had all of this design. Probably most listeners, at least at a certain age will be able to recognize the Marlboro Man.

Bruno: Everyone that ever saw Mad Men probably knows that story too.

Matt: For sure. And well, I actually, I consciously decided not to watch that show. I know the era that it's in, but I'm knowingly ignorant of that.

So I was reading this book and reading about how that eventually caught up with us tobacco companies. And that led to a lot of serious consequences for them. They had a lot of money to pay out people. They had a lot of admitting of the truth that had to come out. And so by the time I got to the end of this book, it became clear to me that the topic of say fossil fuels, and their effect on the planet is pretty much in line with the way that tobacco companies denied their culpability. And so that led me to...

Bruno: To be on that path.

Matt: It led me down that path. I started trying to see if designers were talking about ethics. And... should we have, or should we have rules against or rules that, at least don't encourage an advertising firm to create the next Marlboro Man. Uh, not to any fossil fuel companies that I know of have a mascot, but...

So I started looking into design ethics. I found, and I know that you know of this person as well, I found, uh, an author named Mike Monteiro. And started reading his book. Started reading his writings. Kept looking for more, and the one thing that I noticed that he covered a lot in his book, Ruined by Design. But I began to notice that there was really not much about climate change in there. That's not his fault. He covers a lot of things in that.

Bruno: A lot of things for sure.

Matt: I highly suggest it to any of the listeners, but.

Bruno: Me too. For sure. One of my favorite books of all times.

Matt: Yeah. I got to the point where I was like: Well, okay. I love reading. I love researching. I love learning new things. This seems like, there's an opportunity. And so that just, that led me down the path of finding more designers who are interested in climate. Finding books about the subject. I already had a few books about climate change in general. A number that I would highly recommend. But I got to the point where I had the like peanut butter and chocolate moment of you know, there was a lot of climate and there was a lot of design, but there wasn't a lot of content that had those things together to make the perfect Reese's peanut butter cup of a piece of content.

And so, at that point then, I tried to put that content out there or learn more about that to have someone that was adding... I mean, not that I have any plans to be a main voice in that dialogue, but it became a mission for me.

Bruno: It became a mission for you and it, and it's interesting to hear you talk about this, and the connection. It's a twisted path from finding in books, that information that led you to think: what I do contributes to this or not. It's interesting. And I was wondering, I know that you're now writing a book on the topic. I'm not sure what the title for it is, if you have decided it or not...

Matt: I'm not sure what the title for it is either just yet.

Bruno: Yeah. So I was thinking It makes sense that this feels like the medium that you chose, taking this background that you just talked about, like going from reading this much and deciding that a book is a good way to get your message out there. And set this up. Is that it, or it was ever anything else?

Matt: Well, like I said, I've always loved books. And so part of the reason why I wanted to write a book. Was to write a book. I've never really wanted to be an author. But the goal of getting something that put those two topics together became really important for me. What I want to do as a designer... well if I had my dream job, I would be designing type. I love typography.

Bruno: Yes!

Matt: Even if I was just working at a company where I was just tightening up the final designs, I don't even care. I don't care. I would love it. But, and I started to design some of my own type. And I was thinking like, I want something too leave after me. And it became really clear that if I have to leave something after me, but society has sort of fundamentally changed because of climate change, then at least for me, I still want people to make more type because I love typography, but for me anyway, it seemed that the best way for me to go forward was to try to move in the direction of climate.

There's an author, whose name is Eric Holthaus, he wrote a book called The Future Earth, and basically the last thing that he says in that book, in the final paragraph, and I'll paraphrase it, but he says that the best way to take action on climate is to find where your passions meet your talents. And that's going to be the most natural way to make a good effort. And so at that moment, reading that line, that's sort of cemented to me this is what I should do.

And so, that's the goal. It hasn't been... like writing the book hasn't been all consuming of my time. But it's been sort of, the driving goal for me.

When I became aware of climate change, and I became aware of designers' culpability, our contributions to climate change. I had no idea what to do.

I didn't know if I should stop being a designer. I started to have a lot of grief about my profession. And though I've found outlets online that, you know, have more designers that feel the same way. The one thing that I didn't find was something that was written for all designers, as sort of like a primer for design and climate change.

So I had seen books on green graphic design and on like sustainability for design, but I've always been relatively low income for most of my life. When I've not had those opportunities to just pack up, move on to something else, start a company sorts of things. So I didn't have the validation of knowing that even those little efforts that I could make, were not just a good thing to do, but were important to do.

And were real solutions real important steps. And that anyone can make. And so, that was the impetus of what the content of the book was going to be about, was talking to, hopefully, designers of all races, all genders, all financial abilities... anything that you can think of, to create something that people can read and help them to get started. And then obviously there's other books beyond that that are more pointed at a certain subject. This was. I've always loved books and this seems like a very good way to hit that audience.

Bruno: Yeah. It's a good way to put it. I would say.

Matt: In a lot of our culture, we design things, we make things, we buy things, we get rid of things. Books are more intended to be around for longer. And so they also tend to be more accessible, or have more accessible options to people. They're not dependent upon wifi. It's just as easy to buy a book and then buy another one and donate it to a library.

Bruno: Yeah. And that sentence of like books are not dependent on wifi is a strong thing to say nowadays. Like, because we're so connected and we're so like... I consume most of information on a screen, on a small one, a medium one, a giant one, I don't care. But it's that like, at the end of the day, having something that it's not dependent of technology and gives you space to think outside of that box... feels differently and I like that.

Matt: You got things like audio books, like eBooks, that help make that message accessible to people that can't see, to people that can't afford a book. But have a screen, like you said. And so...

Bruno: There are a thousand ways to consume a book, which is interesting. Yeah.

Matt: Yeah. And, so for me, it's just making something that consciously is going to be a product that is intended to last.

Honestly, I think that a lot more of design needs to be started with the end game of the product in mind. Needs to be started with getting rid of the idea of planned obsolescence, and just stuff that lasts for two years and then you buy a new one.

And so it was, it was a conscious choice of mine. It just happens to be that I also personally love books, but it was a conscious choice of mine to try to make something that can sit on a shelf. And be guessable to people for years.

Bruno: And it makes sense, it connects a lot with that sentence you said, which is where your passions meet your talents. Like, if you can put those into a book, which is something that you really love and the topic itself, it makes sense. I can see where it comes from and it's interesting and I'll definitely want to read it when you, when you're done.

So all of this. We've been talking about how you got there. Why do you want this type of book to be out there, because it makes sense between your passions, between the things that you do, the things that you created. Even the details on you wanting to be a typography designer, and believe me, I've been there. I still love... I did like two or three fonts in my lifetime, not the most incredible. I worked with a typography designer and it's great to see how a person that works on that full-time just formulates ideas and creates the fonts in front of you. I love that. But like, there's a lot there to unravel, for sure. But focusing on the book, focusing on what you want to do, then transmit with this. This product is meant to last.

You supposed to talk with designers, right? With what you expect designers feel when reading your book, I would say. So, being that this book is talking about how design fits in this panorama of climate change. I would ask you what you feel like, a design designer's role is in society. Beyond that point. That is a very specific thing.

Now being a little bit more broader. We've talked about ethics. We've talked about the stories like the Marlboro man, and the way that design is part of that creative process. What do you feel the role is for someone that is in our industry?

Matt: Well, to go back to an author that we both enjoy, Mike Monteiro. When I was reading his book, he had quoted another designer named Victor Papanek, a number of times throughout the book. And so I instantly was like: okay, I need to look up this book: Design for the Real World.

Which really is a goal of mine, in that this book is still relevant and it was written in the seventies. But Papanek basically says designers needing to be judges. I believe Monteiro turns that into gatekeepers. When he talks about what happened that says. But the quote from victor Papanek is:

I must agree that the designer bears a responsibility for the way the products he designs are received at the marketplace. But this view is still too narrow and parochial. The designer's responsibility must go far beyond these considerations. His social and moral judgment must be brought to play, long before he begins to design. Since he has to make a judgment, and a priori judgment at that, as to whether the product he is asked to design or redesign merits his attention at all. In other words, will his design be on the side of the social good or not?

Basically says that designers are gatekeepers. That we need to make judgements before a project starts and that we need to be, we need to be aware that what we make we're responsible for even after we're done making it.

And I think that that needs to be in the back of any designers mind. Whether you are designing a product, or a package, or a website. Thinking about this idea that this person has, does it need to exist? Does it need to exist in the way that they envisioned it? Does it help the people that it's intended to be targeted towards?

Also, it might just be because I'm from America, but I'm a big proponent of free speech. So I would never say there are particular types of topics that no one should ever touch. Everyone has their right to express themselves. But if people take on the mindset that they have a responsibility for the things that they make, the things that they say, then that might encourage them to have an opinion or you know, they have the ability to make this thing, but maybe if they're thinking about being responsible for it, then maybe they won't...

Bruno: Then they are going to think about it differently. And this is a little bit also part of the conversation that I want to have with this podcast, with this project overall. I believe designers are gatekeepers. Well, a lot like Papanek says, and Mike says. But I also believe that design is something that surpasses the designers.

Matt: For sure.

Bruno: And that's the thing that I, that I truly want to understand. For example, you as a designer, do you feel like, having worked on design, and having learned design as a tool and doing things on your daily basis. Do you think that that affects the way that you see the world around you, that you interact with things?

Matt: I think so. I mean, I think that design is about effective communication. I think it's about efficiency in communication. And so when I look at the world, I look at... I mean, I won't lie. I judge books by their covers.

Bruno: We all do. We all do, forsure.

Matt: But I consciously try not to assign value to anything that I've judged by just what I see. So, I go through and I can see a logo and I like it, or I dislike it. But I try to remember that my idea of an aesthetic isn't necessarily everyone else's. And, you know, design is sort of a first stop for me on deciding if I want to buy something, if I want to go to this website or something. But it's always, the after effects of the design.

And I guess that's the way that I think about design in general. It's not just the thing that I'm making, it's the world that I'm making it in, and the people that I'm making it for. And so, that thing that I've designed lasts beyond my particular contribution to that thing.

And I feel like this is the role of designers, but I also feel like this is how I view the world being a designer. But I feel like designers need to learn to both step out of their perspective when that's necessary. You're designing something, you need to learn something about the people that you are designing for. I think that's important. And I think that we also need to lean in on our perspectives when those things are relevant. Like: Hey, I am a person that is in a wheelchair. I have a really important perspective on this building that we're designing. So I need to lean into that perspective, and if I'm a person that is not in a wheelchair, some ambiguity here, if I'm a person that's not in a wheelchair, then I need to be listening to people that are.

My responsibility, in my job, alters the way that I see the world. It alters the way that I interact with people. And I'm always, consciously trying to be aware of other people's perspectives, of other people's viewpoints... of histories that aren't mine. All of these things are incredibly important.

Bruno: That makes perfect sense. I think we started talking about design being for everyone when we started talking about accessibility as a whole, as an industry. And I, say design as an industry, but design has so many industries. Like, I'm now working at design in tech, but the fact is that I'm doing communication design for a place where design mostly refers to product design and experience design. But people close to me are so involved in design as a part of fashion and clothing, which is completely different perspective in different worlds. And I love how that works.

And focusing again, back on your book, and the topic of climate design. You already said that designers should have some view of the world and the way that their work is applied to what climate change is. Something you build and the effects that, that has a long term, which is an amazing perspective, and I guess many people don't even notice that, especially now that we've worked in screens, but we forget what actually makes the screens work and what actually makes the apps work and all the conversations... For example, and this is a side topic right now, but ecology and NFTs.

Have you thought about it and the negative effects and what's not? Have you seen conversations around it? Have you seen designers defending it or not? At least for me that has been a super interesting conversation because the two sides of the conversation are so... I don't know. Not sure how you feel about that. For example.

Matt: I will not call myself an expert in...

Bruno: Neither do I.

Matt: ... all those things. I do know that those technologies are energy intensive. I personally have no interest in NFTs whatsoever. I have no interest in Bitcoins, crypto, any of that stuff. I respect other people have different opinions. Like on Twitter, I still follow people that retweet things by NFTs, you know, whatever. People come to different truths through their different perspectives and if people's minds are going to be changed, sometimes they need to hear what they need to hear from someone that they trust.

So there's no point in me going on Twitter, talking to someone that I don't know, trying to convince them that NFTs are bad for the environment. That's it. That's what I think. But that's...

Bruno: It ends up being a lot on personal experience. And this is why I love that this topic is all about humanity as a whole. About our responsibility as people for our communities. But at the end of the day, there are going to be individual decisions that are going to be focused on you as a person and a professional. And NFTs for example, this is a very ambiguous solution for that... Especially for artists and designers, because we live in a space where we're usually underpaid, unless we're in very specific roles and what's not. And NFTs open the chance for you to make some extra value out of your work, which I think is amazing, opening that type of doors, but then the ecological talk around it and, and this ambiguity. Because there are good points and bad points. They are so interesting as a societal change in the way that we trade goods and we talk about the value of things. Because, again, we talk about money, and we use money to trade for things, but we've never discussed what money is, as much as we discuss what cryptocurrencies and NFTs are. Because they are digital, they are tactless. And much like talking about a book that can live in an e-book and an audio book, which is has the same value, depends on the person that uses it, this feels like a very specific topic that has so many dimensions to it. And you were talking about all these things and I couldn't just not mention crypto and NFTs because it's an hot topic, but it's one that has, all of those dimensions the fact is.

Matt: Yeah. And I think that there are ways to make it better. I think that there is room to make blockchain technologies that are less energy intensive, and I totally hear you on designers being underpaid and then having this opportunity to turn a piece of their work... There was, an artist recently... goes by the name of Beeple on social media and he just sold a piece of artwork called EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS and that sold for millions of dollars. And it's not even a JPEG, the thing that sold for millions of dollars is like a link. I understand that it can be lucrative. I personally feel having designers unions, having stronger design rules is a more sustainable way to have designers be paid better. I think that there are ways that we can advocate for ourselves, that don't rely on that technology. I'm open to improvements in it.

Bruno: Completely with you on that. And honestly like, even the conversation around designer unions and the way that we should defend the profession and what's not, makes a lot of sense to me. But now here's where I start punching in a little bit and try to figure out how this works.

I truly believe, again, the design is for everyone. Not just to consume, but also to create and to be part of the conversation. And we talked about that, like listening to other perspectives, we bring those people in. But many times they don't understand what goes on on the process of design. They don't have the tools. So. Here is my point. Where do you believe that design is for everyone? Something you can use, and if so, in what way? And how does that then clash with the idea of designer unions and gatekeeping of the industry and the job? For example.

Matt: I wholeheartedly agree that design is for everyone. I really think that when you boil design down that one of the core elements is communication. Whether you are communicating the quality of a brand, whether you are communicating the directions to the bathroom in building signage, it is about getting an idea from one person's brain to another person's brain.

And so that means that design is not just something that everyone has to have access to, but that everyone that has access to it has to be considering the people that they're designing for. I think that right now we're having this conversation over zoom. Obviously in 2020 and 2021 a lot of people have had conversations digitally. And I think that that obviously means that we have a lot to say, but also that shows that we need to have ways to communicate that are accessible to all of us.

Something that I was thinking about the other day, as an example in getting ready to talk to you was, in answering the question is design for everyone, an extreme example, but I think that it illustrates pretty clearly. Imagine our world without any designed objects. What would happen if we woke up and all designed objects were gone? Would be pandemonium. How would we drive on the street without signs? How would we drive if we didn't have cars? What streets will we drive down if we don't have maps? Or we don't have city planners to plan the streets? It becomes clear that designers have real power to create and maintain systems. But to me that also underlines that we have a real responsibility to be servants of the people that we design for, and to make their lives better.

So for me, and there's a whole climate perspective that I can get into, but for me, outside of climate it's examples like that, that make it obvious in my mind, that design is for everybody.

In terms of design being for everyone and talking about climate change, for me when I when I think about those two subjects together, I think about underserved communities. I think about, nations, you know, say primarily in the global south that don't have a lot of design. Schools don't have a lot of design that gets into the consciousness of people in the global north. And obviously a lot of those nations right now, that are being affected by climate change... a lot of say island nations that are seeing the ocean creep up on them, they need to be able to have the same ability to talk to us as well. I'm from America.

We're really good at talking at everybody else, and then not always listening to everybody else. And when we have so many of the tools, and then we say: oh, if you need something, let us know and we'll make something for you.

I think that it's about self-determination. I think that it's about autonomy for those nations. I think that it's about self-pride.

Bruno: I would add also... a different type of creativity, different type of solutions has came out of those nations out of those needs. Because their environment is completely different from ours, and many times we don't have what they have, the way that they need to think. Even when we look at climate change or the way that people deal with things like architecture. A while ago, I was looking at some villages in Africa where, because they have issues with heat and trying to figure out how to cool down their houses, they figured out that they could use basic principle of physics, like air going to shrinking places, essentially loses eat. So they figured out how to make walls for their huts that were made out of bottles. That essentially was air conditioning.

And it's a principle of architecture that if you live in a Northern nation, most likely wouldn't have thought of because you have more technology at hand. And many times when you designed these type of things, you don't design thinking of the lowest common denominator, you always expect like middle class, some level of economic capacity... And it's interesting to see how giving people these tools and giving them the space to think and to invent and to grow, using the frameworks around design, brings that value to the table. Brings that value to the conversation also, and helps us learn about things for sure.

Matt: And I mean, the thing I like about that is that it changes the definition of design. For people perhaps like me and you, we think about design as more of a process. Maybe something that involves our computers, something that has steps... and throw in the word refinement somewhere in there.

Bruno: Iteration, whatever you want to call it.

Matt: To me when we see people not manufacturing against nature, but constructing within it, I think I really enjoyed that that changes our definition of what design...

Bruno: What design is, and what can be in the future, which is also good. A great thing.

Matt: And who is intelligent. And who controls design. And that...

Bruno: Definitely. Definitely.

Matt: ... when we stop putting a fence around what design is, and if people don't do that, then they don't design. If we stop defining those things and we can look and we can see something like that, we're building the section of your house out of bottles is, in essentially a free energy way of heat exchange. That's something that we should celebrate.

I was reading, I think it was a medium article, but I was reading the words of an African-American graphic designer named Cheryl Miller. And she was saying that the first graphic design that we know of was from Egypt. And you know, it's like hieroglyphics. So we're talking about a profession, when I talk about graphic design in particular, talking about a profession as if it's something that people like me, who are white or that we can define. And she mentions about.... I will give you her exact quote because I have it. Right here.

She was asked about basically, if there was something from design that she could get rid of. The question in particular was: what is the rebel flag or Confederate monument of design to you? She said:

I would like to retire the Paul Rand look. I would like to retire mid-century Helvetica. I want to retire flush left. I want to retire rag right. I want to retire white space. I want to retire the Swiss grid… It is the look of my oppressor… a mid-century era when it wasn’t easy to enter the NY marketplace as a Black designer. When I see that look, the only thing it says to me is, ‘You cannot enter. You don’t belong. You’re not good enough.

Bruno: Those are some powerful words. And that put a lot of things in perspective. I had bad graphic design training. I can tell you that. I learned what I could by myself. And the fact is, like many others and not only white men or European or American people, those are the defaults when it comes to design. And this is so powerful to hear because you don't think about it that way. Many times.

Matt: Yeah. For people like me or you, or for potentially a lot of listeners, we grew up in a system defining what is good. What is bad. What is effective. And that's why to me learning to get out of your perspective, and accepting that design is about efficiency and effectiveness in communication. That we... people like me, can't always communicate effectively in a design, because I don't have the right perspective. So when I read those words too, I was like, oh, wow. This is everything I've ever been taught that is good design.

I will say from the perspective of design enabling people to have self-determination, and autonomy, and pride... I will say that from that perspective, and as a fellow lover of typography you might be interested in this, I went to a talk by a type designer that I had as professor at college and someone that he works with is also a fantastic type designer in his own right. They came together to create this company called Jamra Patel.

The two individuals are named Mark Jamra he was my professor, and Neil Patel. And they created this typeface Kigelia. It's a type family for basically everyone in Africa. And it's got a bunch of different traditional and original African languages in it.

So there's sort of the standards like Arabic, and then there's some specific languages that are regional... so they now have something that they can type in. And what they were saying was that a lot of the official languages for these nations are the languages of colonizers.

It's English. It's French. It's whatever. And so literacy rates are low because they don't have a sense of connection to that language. The happy ending to the story is that Microsoft bought the distribution rights, or however that works. The tight family is now going to be included in future additions of Microsoft Word. And, so those people can write to each other in their own language. They can learn and preserve their own language. The two of them also developed an app, like a calculator app so that they can do math in their own language too. And I think that the whole project involved a ton of research and talking to people who created those languages, talking to people who were affected by those languages. And that's something that allows people to have pride in their culture. It helps them to preserve their culture. It helps them, not even just to like, find their voice, but to use their voice.

Bruno: Yeah. In the same medium as everyone else. If you look at it, like just have my point of view. If that's the main medium, if you need to use the same machines at this point, or the same tools, because you still need to use some of them. Or how can you change them if you don't have ways to change them to interpret what you have into the thing means more to you. So I can see the value in that.

Um, There's a little bit of capitalistic control there when companies starting intervening like in Microsoft and what's not, but it's still a good way to give access and unobstruct roadblocks. Which is quite an accomplishment when it comes to something like that . There's a richness in culture in the African continent that we don't know, unless you start going deep into it and trying to get all that value of different languages, cultures, details. And for example, for me, one of the things that I've found that was interesting, but at the same time, sad was in the last four or five years, there was a boom in the number of designers that came into the space when it comes to graphic and product design, from Nigeria. Specifically as a country. There's a huge push for them to get that, but the type of things that they still design, although it has influences from their origins and all of those things that they can't really use, sometimes in terms of communication, it still is them creating their own version of what design is. And there are barriers being broken there. But this project, at least for me, it feels like much, much more than that. It's the next step?

Matt: Yeah. I mean, I think that part of it is just letting go of saying what is valid as good design. You had mentioned earlier in your question about how do my views about design being for everybody and my views on designer unions, how do those things come together and really for me, I think that the most effective way is... I'd love to see the democratization of design. So, opening up the doors for people in terms of not just having one platform to design on.

You do a bunch with Figma. I've used that a couple of times. I personally really like Affinity Software. Affinity Photo, and Design, and Publisher. And both of those things are alternatives to Adobe. Both of those give you the same things that you can do, but all of these speak to Affinity that I know that I paid a price once, and I have that piece software forever. And so I think that if design is to be democratized, that means throwing open the doors to, you know, normalizing working in Sketch, normalizing working in Canva. But I think that also means normalizing many different forms of design education. I know, definitely here in the states anyway, when you're applying for a job, everything is we want to see a bachelor's degree.

Bruno: Much like in Europe and in Portugal specifically. But for example, design education in some parts of Europe is more under college and the university degree type of thing, but in Portugal, we do have design courses in college, but most of the new types of design always start as professional degrees in smaller schools. And there's even like some unions of schools that are not in the major city centers that end up developing these new methodologies around design and new design types that others tend to look down.

Matt: Well, I can't speak to the European experience, but I know that here in the states, going to college means being in debt for decades. And that's, it's an entirely different topic, but when employers say: well, what we want to see, is we want to see a bachelor's degree. That means that we're limiting the design profession to, either people that don't have to worry about debt. And that's a very particular perspective for people that are indebted. And that means that they don't have the same freedoms to make work that fits their ethical and moral codes all the time. Because they know they need to work to live.

Bruno: They started at a different starting point and that affects a lot of what they can do is, and the choices that they can have as designers, and as professionals. And that's actually a very important point at the end of the day.

Matt: And so I think that just alternative forms of education, whether that be apprenticeships or, you know, in nations that have like free college and stuff. Being able to learn the skills of design, learn what makes a design good, and efficient, and effective in the area that you live in. Not just by the standards of the grid or whatever. And then opening up those channels of education, and then opening up the tools that we use. I know that I'm sort of stuck on using Apple products. I don't know what it's like in Europe in terms of...

Bruno: It's a little bit more mixed. But in the last 10 years, Apple as clearly dominated the designer market.

Matt: And Apple computers are expensive. I mean, I like mine. I got it from a job and then they let me have it after I was done, which was amazing. But again, same thing with the cost of education. The cost of hardware, the cost of software... that limits the amount of people that can get their hands on the tools that they need to communicate the messages that matter to them. And in the ways that the people that need to hear those messages can absorb most efficiently.

So. When I first came across you on Twitter, and the Design is for Everyone account, that's the sort of thing that I was like: oh, I need to, I need to talk to this person. A kindred spirit because. All of that... I watched your video, that was about design is for everyone and, I mean, it just resonated with me. You can have all of these tools out there, and you can still have a way of maintaining quality. You can have a way of maintaining a respect for the profession of design, without narrowing down the amount of people that can get in.

I don't think that that is something that is revolutionary. I don't think that that is something that is impossible to do. I think that in this particular instance, we need to acknowledge that we know we're in a particular state of the world right now, where we need to really be thinking globally. And that means giving the tools to speak globally to all of those people.

You know, the internet exists. I mean, there's plenty of ways for people to get information. Tutorials, and YouTube. And still maintain quality. I think that's really, really doable.

Bruno: Completely a hundred percent agree with that. And on that note, I would say. Wanted to go to point to finish today's episode? Just like to thank you very much for accepting my invitation for, starting to talk with me on Twitter and just helping me also run through with this. You were truly the first person that I talked about starting this podcast, and I really wanted to have you as the first person in this podcast because of that. So, thank you a lot. Thanks for the work that you're doing, when it comes to design and climate, because I think it's such an important topic.

And I hope just to keep crossing paths with you down the road. And I hope that everyone today. Loved the episode and could get something out of it. Thank you.

Matt: I really appreciate being your first guest. And I mean, it was really encouraging to see that someone else was thinking those same things. And I mean, just a final thing for people that are listening, like.

It's really okay to embrace when someone else has the same idea. I think that originality, like only going for something that is original, I sort of think that that's overrated. I think that we're in a time right now where if we see that someone else has an idea that we've been having, we need to be able to embrace that and not be like this person's getting in my territory of things. And the, we shouldn't let needing to be the only person that does this thing, stop us from making a difference. I think it's it's crucial, right now.

Bruno: Thank you for that. I think that those are great words and see everyone next week. And remember design is for everyone. Bye everyone.

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