A photograph of two individuals working on a solar panel. The solar panel is seen from the side, dissecting the image from lower left to top right. The two individuals are behind and largely obscured by the panel. In the background is natural imagery of the Southwest of the United States.
Power Is in Our Hands: Native Renewables
Written by Wahleah Johns Access to electricity is a human right, essential to people’s health, security, and livelihoods. Of the 20,000 families in the United States without access to electricity, three-quarters live on the Navajo Nation. Despite their lands providing fossil fuels that have powered the West for 50 years, these families have been left...
An abstract representation of a digital network. White, glowing dots and lines swirl, forming a helix, into the center of the image, against a dark gray background.
Broken Systems: Designs for a Better World
Written by Tatiana Schlossberg To those of us who don’t design anything, it’s easy never to think about design at all. If the design is good, then we probably don’t even see it because it’s too intuitive or easy to use or we are too distracted by the elegance or beauty to imagine that a...
Vertically rectangular batik hanging of a landscape with a tent and a column in the middle ground, surrounded by cedar trees. Low plants and a spider web fill the foreground. The night sky has stars and billowing clouds. A floral vine border on all sides with rabbits in bottom section. Gray, green, apricot, yellow, and white.
Camp in Connecticut
Designers can find inspiration from varying forms of creative expression. Looking at the batik murals of the American artist and designer Lydia Bush-Brown (1887–1984), her sources seemed clear. Sketches capturing scenes from her travel in the 1920s to Syria and Italy can be found repeatedly in her work. Murals featuring Syrian villages on terraced hills,...
Emoji guidance illustration of person in tan headscarf
The Hijab Emoji: Normalizing Identity
What emoji do you use to represent yourself? For Rayouf Alhumedhi in 2015, at the time a 15-year-old Saudi student living in Berlin, there wasn’t an emoji to represent her. Rayouf is Muslim and wears a hijab. In a group chat, each of Rayouf’s friends (who don’t wear headscarves) used the female emoji to represent...
Poster for the Spike Lee film, ‘Do the Right Thing.’ Shows a bird’s-eye view of a blue street with a man standing cross-armed by the tail of a car on the left. At right, a man holds a pizza box. Printed in yellow, upper center, with children's feet on either side: It's the hottest day of the summer. / You can do nothing, / you can do something, / or you can... Printed larger in yellow, center: DO THE / RiGHT / THing. Rows composed of colored triangles appear between the lines of text. In light blue, directly to the right: BEd-Stuy. In white, below, written by a young girl with chalk: A Spike Lee Joint. A child-like drawing of a man with a gun and a cop car appear in the lower right. Film credits listed in white at the bottom of the poster. The rating information (R) and the Spectral Recording/Dolby Studio logo appear on the bottom left.
Movie Night! Seven Art Sims Posters for Spike Lee Films
Art Sims (American, born 1954) has designed graphics across entertainment media, but his most famous and prolific work is that for film posters. His collaboration with Academy Award–winning filmmaker Spike Lee (American, born 1957), in particular, has produced some of his most iconic designs. Sims was first drawn to Lee’s work after seeing Lee’s first...
The front and back covers of a book are shown. A collage of black-and-white photographs completely bleeds off all sides of the two covers. The cut-and-pasted photographs depict Black people of different ages, some with natural Afro hair styles. The title “RE:CREATION” and the author’s name are typeset in red Futura caps. One figure is highlighted with red ink, printed transparently over the black photograph. An outdoor sign for Jackson State College appears on the back cover.
Broadside Press and Black Graphic Design
Broadside: A single sheet of paper printed on one side only. For centuries, broadsides were a popular ephemeral format for distributing news, announcements, advertisements, or commentary in the form of ballads.  Between 1966 and 1975, Broadside Press in Detroit, Michigan published 81 books and dozens of poetry broadsides written and designed by Black writers and...
A poster depicting a bluescale image of the head of a woman with a bouffant hairdo and an unrestrained shouting expression, as words advertising a theatrical production spiral from her mouth, contrasted against a bright yellow, solid background.
Black Theater: A Graphic Design Showcase
Graphic design serves a powerful role in establishing the visual identity of theatrical performance. Cooper Hewitt’s collection offers highlights of graphic design for the work of Black playwrights and composers. Narratives addressing riots and rage; exploring triumph, history, and oppression; or featuring funk, soul, and divas interact with typography, image, and space to tell a...
White background with black design. Black and white photograph of jazz musician Roscoe Mitchell occupies lower three-quarters of cover, set in black circle, with black concentric rings emanating outward. Upper one-quarter is white with black, blocky stylized lettering: Sound/ Roscoe/ Mitchell, and Sextet perpendicularly.
Laini Abernathy, Black Graphic Designer
Laini (Sylvia) Abernathy (who died in 2010) was an artist, designer, and activist. Cooper Hewitt is collecting album covers designed by this important designer, who contributed to the Black cultural scene in the late 1960s. Abernathy was part of the Black Arts Movement (BAM) in Chicago. BAM, a national movement founded after the assassination of...
Coronavirus illustration
Collecting Design Now: Cooper Hewitt’s new Responsive Collecting Initiative
In September this year, we launched Cooper Hewitt’s Responsive Collecting Initiative (RCI), a new effort at the museum to solicit, review, and ultimately add objects to the museum’s permanent collection that tell design stories about the historic moments we are living through. Back in March, we found ourselves in lockdown like the rest of the...