Letter from the Editor

Editor Sam Aquillano reflects on 2020 in Issue 017. 

Architecture of school

By Sam Aquillano

This year is one for the history books; 2020 was not only defined by a global pandemic, but also national uprisings and conversations calling for civil rights for the Black community, and a contested presidential election. While Design Museum is not immune to the effects of these uncertain times, we have found ways to adapt and thrive. This year we changed our name to Design Museum Everywhere—to be the museum that comes to you, wherever you are—and in doing so we’ve become a truly multimedia and global museum. 

Elizabeth Lowrey, one of our members on the Board of Directors, recently called me to say, “I don’t know how you all are doing this, but for every challenge in our world, Design Museum has some piece of content, or exhibition, or program addressing it and helping folks understand and see how design plays a role.” That really touched me—I’m so proud of the work we do. 

One of our most notable accomplishments of the year was creating an online version of We Design: People. Practice. Progress., featuring the career stories of people from historically underinvested communities who are working across every design field. We recently added 15 designers to the online exhibition, and we’ll continue to grow the group in 2021. We also researched and curated a list of over 100 anti-racism resources, spanning self-education books, podcasts, organizations to follow, and more. And, in response to growing demands to end police violence against Black individuals, we’ve partnered with a guest editor, Jennifer Rittner, to develop a special issue of Design Museum Magazine to explore the relationship and role of design in policing. This issue will be published one year after the murder of George Floyd. 

We also shared a number of conversations focused on democracy in recent episodes of our weekly podcast, Design is Everywhere. We discussed the design of voting, political activism, and civic design. I interviewed Dana Chisnell, Director of Project ReDesign at the National Conference on Citizenship, and Anne Petersen, Director of Experience Design at 18F, a design office within the federal government, just to name a few. 

COVID-19 has completely upended our education system. To respond, our Director of Learning and Interpretation, Diana Navarrete-Rackauckas, is breaking new ground in youth design education. We brought our youth programs online in innovative ways, including sending teens design kits to use on their virtual projects. We will welcome another cohort of teens to our Neighborhood Design Project in Spring 2021. There’s also our Design Together program, a collection of design activities for all learners and classrooms, available for free on our website. 

Lastly, we’ve focused significantly on healthcare—the subject of this special, year-end issue of Design Museum Magazine, and a topic that connects to all our lives, especially this year. In this issue, we’ve partnered with thought leaders across the healthcare design ecosystem. You’ll explore how designers are making a real impact in people’s well-being through human-centered healthcare. 

I hope you learn from and enjoy this issue, and all that Design Museum Everywhere has to offer, as we explore the concerns of our time through the lens of creative problem solving. It’s our supporters who make this work possible. For those of you who can, I hope you’ll consider continuing your support and making a year-end, tax-deductible donation to the Design Museum. To help us continue this important work into 2021, visit our website at designmuseumeverywhere.org and click “Make a year-end donation” at the top of the page. Thank you!


Sam Aquillano

Executive and Creative Director

Design Museum Everywhere

Cover of the Education Issue

From Design Museum Magazine Issue 017