BIPOC Design History Black Design in America

Black Design in America is the first in a series of BIPOC Centered design history courses facilitated by Polymode. Launched in January of 2021 as live and pre-recorded lectures, readings, and discussions, this synchronous and asynchronous series of classes sheds light on moments of oppression and visibility. The series revisits and rewrites the course of design history in a way that centers previously marginalized designers, cultural figures—and particularly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and Queer, Trans, People of Color (QTPOC).

Co-author and Facilitator – Silas Munro
Designer – Tanvi Sharma

Poetic Research

Decolonizing Curriculum

Black Design in America class topics include the ancient origins of African alphabets, innovative mathematics in African architecture, systemic racism of the transatlantic slave trade, W.E.B. Du Bois’s innovative information diagrams in 1900, the aesthetics of Eugenics and its science of racial profiling, the Harlem Renaissance and other queer Blackness, the grassroots network of Victor Hugo Green’s Motorists books, urgent Civil Rights protest movements, the rise of hip hop’s graphic language, histories of Black liberation from Afrofuturism to the Black Lives Matter movement, and methodologies of Black design education. BIPOC Design History creates a learning environment that flattens the existing American economic hierarchy of higher education by offering sliding scale tuition, scholarships, and free lectures. This economic model created a diverse and accessible community of over 2000 students with access to previously unexplored knowledge in the existing graphic design system. Our participants ranged from design students in their 20s to educators and professional designers, and industry leaders in their 60s. The students attended from all around the globe, representing a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, races, and gender identities.