Instagram’s @design is the official account on the platform curated by Instagram’s design team to bring stories about design around the world on the platform. On June 16th, 2021 Instagram had announced the launch of Black Design Visionaries in collaboration with Brooklyn Museum to “empower”, “center” and “invest” in the black design community. Now months after the launch, Instagram is announcing the five recipients of the inaugural #BlackDesignVisionaries grant program. Let’s have a look.
In addition to the previously announced sum, @design has also arranged for an additional $75,000 Impact Grant to recognise the exceptional talent of the shortlisted designers and businesses. Overall $205,000 has been awarded to the following #BlackDesignVisionaries recipients:
- Fashion design house Head of State has been awarded the $100,000 Visionary Small Business Grant.
- Graphic design studio Morcos Key has been awarded the $75,000 Impact Grant.
- Spatial designer Dominique Petit-Frère, type designer Tré Seals and designer and art director Sablā Stays have each been awarded a $10,000 Aspiring Designer Grant.
The recipients of the grant were chosen from more than 500 applications by a committee led by writer and curator Antwaun Sargent and including Ruth E. Carter, Justina Blakeney, Toni L. Griffin, Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, Rick Lowe, Bobby C. Martin Jr, Heron Preston, Ian Spalter and Asad Syrkett.
“I’m overwhelmed by the quality of submissions and the ways in which these designers are thinking about the world. A grant like this could mean limitless possibilities, providing an opportunity to those who do not have access to traditional pathways into spaces such as art and design. We all live in this world, we all have to navigate this world. When we have those different perspectives, we all benefit.” says Antwaun Sargent, grant committee lead.
THE GRANT RECIPIENTS
Visionary Small Business Grant:
Head of State (@headofstate_)
Fashion design house
“One of the things we loved about Head of State is how they use design in a number of different ways. There’s the design of artifacts — the fashion and the clothing itself. And there’s the narrative around what the aesthetic of the fashion means. The other is the way in which the artist designs a creative ecosystem: how the economy of fashion can have an impact on addressing issues of social and spatial justice – especially economic equity and representation.” says the committee member, Toni L. Griffin.
Morcos Key (@morcoskey)
Graphic design studio
“The work Morcos Key is doing is groundbreaking — focusing on subject matter crucial to the future of Black culture, while also advocating for greater rights and representation for the LGBTQIA community. In the visual design field, Black voices are often overlooked, so the work that Morcos Key is doing can feel like pushing a boulder uphill. They’ve shown us the beginning of something really special. A grant like this could help propel them into a space of greater freedom and give them the opportunity to really make a difference.” says Bobby C. Martin.
Aspiring Designer Grant:
Dominique Petit-Frère (@limboaccra)
“Dominique Petit-Frère’s interdisciplinary approach to spatial justice is groundbreaking, and I love how she uses art and design to create conversations around sustainability and collaborative community-led development. I am so excited to be a small part of celebrating her and her work and to see how this grant will help support the growth of her mission, projects and studio.” says Justina Blakeney.
Aspiring Designer Grant:
Tré Seals (@vocaltype.co)
“Vocal Type Co. founder Tré Seals learned that only 3 to 5 percent of practicing designers in America are Black and took it as a call to action. His innovative designs “Trojan Horse-in” underrepresented cultures. For example, if his new typeface, ‘Martin’ looks a little familiar, it’s because it was inspired by the placards at the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike of 1968. His ‘Broome’ typeface honors the design aesthetic of the first Black-owned record label in the United States. Every type has a story. His ‘Du Bois’ typeface was inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois’s bold, innovative infographics diagramming Black American life. This powerful marriage of innovation and history is a way for Seals to herald the significance of the cultural events that have designed our society.” says the committee member, Sarah Elizabeth Lewis.
Aspiring Designer Grant:
Sablā Stays (@callmesabla)
Designer and art director
“I was immediately impressed by Sablā’s intelligent work in graphic design and art direction, in which she combines photography, type and visual ephemera in a language informed by the internet and Black-American cultural artifacts. Sablā’s work — most recently for Solange Knowles’s Saint Heron — has a rigorous, almost analytical sensibility. I’m so excited to see how her talent develops.” says the committee member, Asad Syrkett.