With physical copies set to hit shelves this coming September, Deem Journal is bringing a fresh perspective to the future of architecture and design. Based in Los Angeles, the print journal and online platform addresses a variety of issues, exploring the diverse and complex medium that design is, encouraging readers to shift their mindset when discussing this vast topic. Showcasing design as the process of adding value, the publication brings a much-needed shift away from a society focussed on aesthetics and tangible outputs rather than the process of design itself and its impact as a social practice.
Deem Journal was born out of a shared passion between its three founders, Nu Goteh, Alice Grandoit and Marquise Stillwell. With designers, strategists and social practitioners Goteh and Grandoit becoming close friends after meeting on a project they were both working on, and subsequently going on to create their own studio, Room For Magic, Goteh then met Stillwell while completing his Masters in Strategic Design and Management at Parsons School of Design. Stillwell, the founder of Openbox – a New York based design studio and consultancy – shared the same vision of human-centred design and a zeal for encouraging change through its implementation. In 2019, Stillwell reached out to the duo to present the concept of starting a publication allowing them to vocalise their discussions and ideas through real conversations which resulted in the creation of the Journal.
Now, nearly a year on from beginning its journey, the first issue has been launched and the vision for the publication is exciting. Plans to host events and interact with communities across the globe is a prospect the team are keen to begin, especially moving into a post-pandemic world. “Our vision has always been to hold a space physically and to have these ideas come to life in continuing the conversations we present within the publication.” says Grandoit. While lockdown may have put these physical events on hold, the team are looking forward to scheduling digital discussions over the coming weeks.
Edition 1, titled Designing for Dignity, holds a plethora of thought-provoking dialogues including an interview with thought-leader, creator, author and social justice activist Adrienne Marie Brown. “We find the magic and value in interacting with people who may not envisage or identify themselves as designers.” states Goteh, whose practice has been informed by his background as a Liberian-born refugee, “And, through empowering them to see how their experiences resonate with our audience, it demystifies the exclusiveness which is often apparent within the design field. It should be a space for everyone.” The immersive nature of the publication draws readers into each conversation and breaks down the boundaries and limitations which have been built from existing spheres, highlighting a roadmap which explores the diversity of design as a process. “We wanted to make it as approachable as possible and not just live on the pages or on the screen.” continues Goteh, “As an end-user you are part of design and should be steering the conversations forward to ensure solutions best fit those they serve.”
The publication also examines a variety of initiatives that dignify the experiences and priorities of systematically marginalised people, with stories exploring schemes around co-living and how architecture can liberate or oppress communities. The publication’s corresponding digital platform will simultaneously host exclusive stories online, continuing conversations and discussions all year round.
What Deem Journal offers is a refreshing perspective which I urge everyone to engage with. From the design of the publication itself, to the structure and materials used, every detail has been carefully considered. This level of attention is testament to the energy and commitment of its founders and, upon reading, draws you into each conversation, provoking thoughts, discussions and action towards a positive design future.
With each of their individual experiences culminating in this publication, manifested in interviews, stories and discussions, Grandoit is excited about the journey they have begun, especially when contemplating the road ahead. “We would love Deem to really be a space, at least if it’s not only an entry point, or a place of empowerment where people can really see themselves in this design world.” she states, “We would like readers to see how they can actively be a part of such processes, as well as realising how they have been shaping these processes already, even in their local capacities.” With issues around social and environmental change challenging the forefront of design today, the space that Deem Journal offers, in an industry in need of change, is imperative. Its optimism and visualisation is inspiring in working towards a design future which serves its community and works at one with the environment within which it operates.