Top 10 Unforgettable Design Quotes of 2020

Top 10 Unforgettable Design Quotes of 2020

By Alexandra Cuervo
These sound-bites from the architects, designers, leaders, and activists we interviewed this year address the industry’s most pressing issues.

From trend forecaster Li Edelkoort’s predictions about how the coronavirus will impact consumer behavior to urban designer Emmanuel Pratt’s call for regenerative design in blighted neighborhoods, the ideas captured here represent a cross section of how our world is changing—and how design must change in response.

Hood Century Founder Jerald Cooper Is Harnessing Instagram Clout for a New Preservation Movement

Leveraging hip-hop and hype culture, the talent booker–turned–preservationist angles to get more Black people engaged with, and influencing, design.

"This is my biggest joke, and everyone laughs nervously about it: Let’s say you’re walking with one of your Black homies, and the last thing you think they’re gonna say is, ‘Yo, man, look at that Italianate duplex. It’s like, from the 1800s.’ That’s funny to me. I thought it was ironic that a lot of us Black creators are fighting against being stereotyped—and we are pretty rigid with our disciplines—but we weren’t able to educate ourselves or be educated. Now, it’s like, let’s do it."

—Jerald Cooper 

Li Edelkoort Thinks Coronavirus Will Change Consumer Behavior Forever

At this year’s Design Indaba conference in Cape Town, the famed trend forecaster spoke about coronavirus, consumption, and her vision of what will happen next.

"Cities will become much greener. That’s what we see in a lot of the better urban plans right now. The city will become the forest and the landscape. I predict that at one point you won’t see the difference between the city and the country. They will somehow grow into each other."

—Li Edelkoort

We May Already Have the Technology to Survive a Climate Crisis—We’ve Just Been Ignoring It

In her book "Lo—TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism," designer and activist Julia Watson urges us to use millennia-old knowledge to build a world in symbiosis with nature.

"We commonly think of sustainability as bringing plants and trees onto buildings, but what if our most sustainable innovations were rooted in cultures who figured it out a millennia ago? There are hundreds of nature-based technologies that have been constructed by Indigenous cultures across the globe that need to be considered as potential climate-resilient infrastructures. It is possible to weave ancient knowledge on how to live symbiotically with nature into how we shape the cities of the future before this wisdom is lost forever."

—Julia Watson

Affording America: Representative Ilhan Omar Wants Homes for All

The Minnesota congressperson thinks the federal government should guarantee a place to live for every American.

"As someone who lived in a refugee camp, I know the pains of not having a place to call home. In the richest country in the world, it is a moral outrage that we don’t provide housing for all."

—Ilhan Omar

Q&A: How British-Nigerian Designer Yinka Ilori Uses Color to Celebrate His Heritage

Yinka Ilori tells us about his passion for color, how public spaces can bring communities together, and why his parents are his biggest inspiration.

"The minute I design something that goes into a public space, it no longer belongs to me—it belongs to the people and the community. They create memories there, give that space life, and build on the narrative of the building. That’s the power of design."

—Yinka Ilori

Q&A: Tom Kundig on Why Buildings Should Move and Morph

The king of kinetic architecture discusses the River House, where manually operated gizmos move massive walls and windows.

"Kinetic architecture, like the hand-operated gizmos you mention, is important to me because I believe buildings should be adjusted and changed by the people who use them. It’s most interesting to me to see how people morph a building and how it evolves over time. I don’t think that buildings should be static—they should be as changeable as possible."

—Tom Kundig

Emmanuel Pratt Is Using "Urban Acupuncture" to Reclaim Neglected Chicago Neighborhoods

The MacArthur fellow and cofounder of the Sweet Water Foundation speaks about "regenerative design" and reclaiming the community.

"Let’s move away from traditional, 20th-century design practices that have created voids in our cities, alienated populations, and closed down schools. We’re in crisis mode. But now we have a tremendous opportunity to look at a new beginning. And that’s where the regenerative design and development comes in. That’s why we do the work."

—Emmanuel Pratt

How Will the Coronavirus Pandemic Change the Way We Eat?

Over the past 10 years, the troubling realities of the food supply chain became apparent. The coronavirus pandemic has made them impossible to ignore.

"Farmworkers have often felt like the silenced, ignored workforce in this country. And yet, when our food supply came into question, the reaction was that they're essential and they need to keep working to keep the food supply going strong. I think there is great potential for the consumer to build on that recognition and educate themselves."

—LeAnne Ruzzamenti

Q&A: Studio Drift Founder Lonneke Gordijn on Nature, Art, and the Limits of Technology

Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta founded Studio Drift in 2006—and in the years since, they’ve explored the intersection of nature and technology through captivating installations that boggle the mind—from massive blocks of concrete that appear to float in thin air to fleets of drones that flock and swarm like starlings. 

"We are exploring how to reconnect people with nature through technology. We believe that you can align people with spaces by using frequencies of sound or movement that relate to frequencies that are in our nature. For instance, the human heartbeat, or breathing, has a similar frequency to waves coming from the sea, wind going through the grass, or the endless sparks of a fire. There is a certain nature that we as humans respond to very, very strongly—and it makes us feel calm, and aligned, and part of a bigger whole."

—Lonneke Gordijn

Two Experts in Quarantine Architecture Predict How the Pandemic Will Affect Our Homes

Authors Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley started writing Until Proven Safe, a book about medieval quarantine architecture, long before COVID-19.

"Quarantine hinges on suspicion. You’re dangerous until proven safe. And uncertainty has always been subject to bias. It’s something that we traced through to the present day. The idea that quarantine technologies are a way of controlling and documenting movement with things like health passports goes back to the Black Death. Often those technologies hardened into normal practices in which governments managed the movement of their populations. You see particular border controls hardening into actual borders. And I think that we’re going to see some of this tracking based on cell phones hardened into regular practice. If that’s not done right, and with a care for privacy and civil liberties, it could end up being a huge problem."

—Nicola Twilley


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