DesignING on the Front Lines | Season 2

In this virtual forum, designers and doctors talk about designing better services, PPE, public spaces, and more in the age of COVID-19. Presented by the Health Design Lab at Thomas Jefferson University and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Season 1 took place in summer 2020.

Moderated by Morgan Hutchinson, MD and Ellen Lupton

Production by Robert Pugliese


Designers and doctors are reimagining the places where we live, work, and gather. Many modern indoor spaces are sealed shut and climate-controlled. The pandemic prompted people to open the windows, move activities outside, and control the flow of indoor air. From plastic sneeze guards to graphics for social distancing, new norms sprang quickly into place. What worked and what didn’t? How can everyone have access to healthier spaces?

Jennifer D. Roberts | Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology, University of Maryland School of Public Health

Jennifer Tobias | Researcher, New York City Streateries

Andrew Ibrahim, MD | Chief Medical Officer, HOK; Surgeon, University of Michigan


Pandemic-inspired service designers are bringing health care to communities. COVID-19 forced health care providers to quickly ramp up existing services (telemedicine) and set up entirely new ones (mobile testing and vaccination sites). Hospitals around the world developed safe, robust services at record speed. Experts from Thomas Jefferson University’s Health Design Lab discuss how to best serve neighborhoods at risk.

Bon Ku, MD and Morgan Hutchinson, MD | Jefferson Health Design Lab

Leah Reisman, PhD | Health & Wellness Director, Puentes de Salud

Sonya Stokes, MD, MPH | Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine

Deeper breaths

Designers are working quickly to protect humans from illness. At the start of the pandemic, designs for personal protective equipment (PPE) had changed very little for nearly fifty years. In the face of alarming shortages, the global maker movement jumped into action, and legions of home sewers stitched masks for essential workers. Engineers, artists, doctors, and designers sought to improve the comfort, effectiveness, and sustainability of PPE. Meanwhile, official guidelines were shifting. What is the state of PPE design now?

Monique Smith, MD | Emergency Doctor, Founding Director, Health Design ED, Emory University

Adam Wentworth |Designer, TEAL Reusable Respirator

Sabrina Paseman | Designer, Essential Mask Brace