An exhibition of 60 collaborative designs from throughout the United States and across borders, By the People challenges the country’s persistent social and economic inequality. Curator of Socially Responsible Design Cynthia E. Smith conducted over two years of field research—traveling to shrinking post-industrial cities, sprawling metro regions, struggling rural towns, areas impacted by natural and man-made disasters, and places of persistent poverty—in search of design for more inclusive and sustainable communities. Presented in the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery and the museum’s Process Lab, the exhibition delivers a powerful message of optimism for achieving a more just and equitable society for all Americans through design.

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PROCESS LAB: Citizen Design

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The museum’s Process Lab gives visitors firsthand experiences with the activities designers use to solve problems and develop new ideas. Now on view, Citizen Design, which invites visitors to engage, empathize, and help envision a better America. Citizen Design was inspired by the GRAY AREA project, featured in By the People, and developed in partnership with Interface Studio Architects. Learn more about Citizen Design.

Exhibition Highlights

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WebsiteCredits-BTP

detail of mail illustrating contested borders along the earth's equator
Spatializing Citizenship: Public Culture at the Border
Excerpt from Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman’s essay “Where is the Public Today? Design for a New Civic Imagination” from By the People: Designing a Better America exhibition publication. Border Crossing Design by the people begins with re-energizing a public culture and building the capacity of divided communities for mutual recognition and coexistence. The San...
Imagining Restorative Justice
In 2013, architectural designer Deanna Van Buren and social scientist Barb Toews established Designing Justice+Designing Spaces (DJ+DS) to facilitate the design of more restorative and healing criminal-justice environments through community engagement in jails and prisons. Their work is featured in the exhibition By the People: Designing a Better America, curated by Cynthia Smith, Curator of...
Designing Resilience to Climate Change
Design Talk on the next generation tools of resilience and the design required to meet social, economic, and climate change challenges.
By the People, By Other Means
Brooklyn-based graphic design studio Other Means discusses designing the book that accompanies the exhibition and their approach to "American" design.
By the People: Housing for All
Cynthia Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design speaks with architects Rosanne Haggerty and David Baker about community building through innovative affordable housing design.
By the People: Designing a Better America
The catalog to the exhibition, By the People: Designing a Better America, examines how design is effectively challenging poverty and social inequality across America. Available online through SHOP Cooper Hewitt.