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Jun 05, 2023 By Vasia Rigou
Deem Symposium: Looking Ahead
Designing a more inclusive and equitable future
By Vasia Rigou Jun 05, 2023
Published in

“Our goal is to demonstrate that through the process of design, even the smallest moments of change are valuable and contribute to building a more inclusive and equitable future,” says Alice Grandoit, editorial director and co-founder of Deem, a biannual print journal and online platform focused on design as social practice. On a mission to uncover meaningful narratives, connections, and patterns that might help us better understand our histories and imagine our futures, the Chicago-based publication hosted its first-ever Symposium this past March at and in partnership with The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCAC), expanding into a one-of-a-kind event that brought together designers, practitioners, and community members—all sharing a passion for design. Grandoit provides insight into the importance of creating a culture of support and collaboration in the industry, Deem’s future plans, and all the things they look forward to—from new projects and new organizations to new relationships.

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Image Above: Attendees check in for the first Deem Symposium hosted at MCA Chicago.
Photography by Brian Crawford

In what ways has Deem’s evolution from publication to community-wide event, served as a step toward better understanding our histories and imagining our futures?

The physical act of gathering our community together is important to us because it becomes a space where we can archive history through the expansive practices, activities, and frameworks that the program for the symposium offers. Together we have the opportunity to reflect and use the perspectives shared as inspirations for the possibilities of the future.

How do you move from dialogue and conversation to action and change? Do you see Deem connecting people to purpose?


We don't see ourselves as connecting people to purpose; people already have a purpose. What we create is an opportunity for people to see their place within the change they want to create. Often, design and change are perceived as something reserved for grand stages and abundant resources. However, our goal is to demonstrate that through the process of design, which we consider as adding value, even the smallest moments of change are valuable and contribute to building a more inclusive and equitable future. Design is inherently optimistic, so if there's anything we strive to spark or connect people to, it's a sense of optimism for the future, which can often be overshadowed by the issues of today.

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Panelists Maya Bird-Murphy, Paola Aguirre Serrano, Tonika Lewis Johnson discuss equitable community design and actionable change.
Photography by Brian Crawford
Panelists Maya Bird-Murphy, Paola Aguirre Serrano, Tonika Lewis Johnson discuss equitable community design and actionable change.
Photography by Brian Crawford
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Murphy expands on how we can create equitable community design in Chicago.
Photography by Brian Crawford
Murphy expands on how we can create equitable community design in Chicago.
Photography by Brian Crawford

What do you see as some of the positive outcomes of the work you’ve been doing?

Through the publication and now through events a lot of the outcomes of the energy and work of Deem Journal has been about making visible, a multitude of lived experiences that intersect with the essential design questions of our time and showcasing that design is inherently a universal activity insofar as everyone is and can participate in design. Some success stories include people identifying their work/processes and thinking as a form of design, or even as a designer. Other success stories are about connecting our community with each other to create a culture of support and collaboration. This has led to new projects, new organizations, and new relationships.

What are your future plans—in terms of events and programming in Chicago and beyond—that help keep the community informed, supported, and connected?


We are particularly honored that Chicago has become a home for Deem, and we are excited to further develop our relationships with the numerous artists, designers, practitioners, change makers, and institutions in the city. We are thrilled to bring the Deem Symposium back to Chicago, in 2024 collaborating with great partners such as the MCA Chicago.

To stay updated, please follow Deem on Instagram for the latest news and updates.

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