A Virtual Store for Racial Inequality
A student-led event to fight against systemic, anti-Black racism
As the pain of systemic racism in America was once again laid bare, a group of GSD students and alumni took the school’s mission—to use design to create a more beautiful, resilient, and just world—to heart. On July 1, this group launched Design Yard Sale, a virtual store to sell creative works by designers and raise funds for two organizations dedicated to racial justice.
The Design Yard Sale catalog included a curated range of original sketches, paintings, furniture, books, and apparel, many of which have been both donated and autographed by their designers—among them, Virgil Abloh, Denise Scott Brown, and Frank Gehry.
“We had a surprisingly easy time with getting the donors involved and found the design community in general to be extremely supportive with the event,” said Grace Chee MArch ’21, one of the event’s organizers.
Chee and the organizing team—Tessa Crespo MDes ’20, Edward Han MArch ’21, Izzy Kornblatt MDes ’19, and Yaxuan Liu MArch ’21—were motivated by ongoing social-justice conversations and catalyzed by the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer. They felt driven to rewire design’s agency amid a national reckoning on race and justice, one in which the design fields have been directly implicated.
The event raised $126,000 over the course of four weeks, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to The Bail Project, a nonprofit organization that works to combat mass incarceration by paying bail for people in need, and New Orleans-based architecture and design justice practice Colloqate Design. Though the sale ended on Aug. 1, the organizers continue to explore the future of Design Yard Sale, whether that involves making it an annual tradition or finding other avenues toward expansion.
“It was a call to action with a direct, tangible way to help, and that really appealed,” said Crespo. “We all felt a strong obligation to fight against systemic racism and we wanted to do so in a way that provided immediate assistance to leaders on the front lines of the movement.”
Photo credit: the above photo is a series from the Design Yard Sale Instagram – please feel welcome to visit the page here.