The Design Nexus is a platform that promotes Black designers who have made and are making an indelible contribution to our society and to how we see the world around us.

Mission: The Nexus serves as a resource to diversify the design fields and ensure that voices of color are included as models for those studying in the design fields, as well as for clients looking to hire designers. Content produced for the Nexus aims to elevate the awareness of Black designers and illuminate the impact of their work on our shared world. The Nexus seeks to highlight excellence, showcase inclusion, and strengthen a more diverse pipeline of people into the design fields as a response to the fact that dominant design discourses have traditionally been shaped by contributors who are mostly white, and mostly male.

Vision: The ambition of the Design Nexus is to balance the scales of opportunity in the design fields. By featuring the work of Black designers, it challenges the notion that excellence is homogenous and allows for voices historically excluded from design to be integrated into the professional design community and curriculum. 

History: The Design Nexus emerged from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s inaugural Black in Design Conference where Dana McKinney, the President of the GSD’s African American Student Union and other students discussed ways of connecting and representing black designers. Dana created a list of over 2,000 African and African American designers that is a growing volume of work the Design Nexus is using to populate its content. When Phil Freelon and Mohsen Mostafavi discussed the potential for housing this project at the GSD, the idea of the African American Design Nexus was born.

The African American Design Nexus was developed by the Frances Loeb Library in collaboration with the GSD’s African American Student Union. As an initiative housed in the library this project is about showcasing black designers as well as providing a resource to be accessed and used by everyone. This underscores the mission of creating a “nexus” of individuals and institutions that are pursuing a pattern break in design education and practice.