Michael Ussery

Extra Bold: Redefining the Purpose of Design

Extra Bold isn't just a book; it's a manifesto for change in the design world.

At our small but mighty design agency, we've always believed that great design must have a reason to exist. For us, that reason has traditionally been rooted in the principles of reason, math, and spacing. However, our understanding of design's purpose has been profoundly expanded by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Tobias's groundbreaking book, Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-Racist, Nonbinary Field Guide for Graphic Designers.

A New Dimension of Design

Extra Bold isn't just a book; it's a manifesto for change in the design world. Lupton and Tobias challenge the traditional paradigms that have long dominated the field. They argue that design must go beyond aesthetics and functionality—it must be inclusive, feminist, anti-racist, and nonbinary. This approach adds a crucial dimension to the rationale behind design: inclusivity.

Inclusivity as a Design Principle

The concept of inclusivity in design means creating work that respects and reflects the diversity of human experience. It's about making sure that everyone, regardless of their gender, race, or identity, sees themselves represented and respected in the designs we create. This book has opened our eyes to the myriad ways that design can perpetuate exclusion and marginalization if not approached thoughtfully.

The Pillars of Extra Bold

  1. Feminism in Design: Extra Bold highlights the importance of feminist perspectives in design, advocating for equal representation and opportunities within the industry. This perspective pushes us to question how our designs can empower all genders equally.
  2. Anti-Racism: The book delves into the ways that design can either combat or perpetuate racial inequalities. It encourages designers to actively engage in anti-racist practices, ensuring that our work does not reinforce harmful stereotypes or systemic discrimination.
  3. Nonbinary Perspectives: By embracing nonbinary perspectives, Extra Bold urges designers to move beyond binary thinking in gender and identity. This means creating designs that are inclusive of all gender identities, not just male and female.

Practical Guidance and Inspiration

What makes Extra Bold particularly impactful is its practical approach. Lupton and Tobias provide actionable advice, real-world examples, and inspiring stories from designers who are already leading the way in inclusive design. They offer tools and strategies for incorporating these principles into everyday practice, making it accessible for designers at any stage of their career.

Redefining Our Design Philosophy

Reading Extra Bold has been a transformative experience for our agency. It has inspired us to broaden our understanding of what it means for design to have a reason to exist. We now see inclusivity as an essential aspect of our work, alongside reason, math, and spacing. This expanded perspective allows us to create designs that not only look good and function well but also make a positive impact on society.

Moving Forward

As a small team of creatives-turned-entrepreneurs, we are excited to integrate the principles of Extra Bold into all aspects of our work. We love designing for designers and are committed to creating designs that are inclusive, feminist, anti-racist, and nonbinary. By doing so, we hope to contribute to a more equitable and just world, one design at a time.

Extra Bold has given us a new lens through which to view our work, and we are excited to apply these insights to our future projects. We encourage all designers to read this book and join us in the journey towards more inclusive and impactful design.

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