We had the good fortune of connecting with Christopher Locke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christopher, how does your business help the community?
The success of my business is centered on impacts design justice. Designing in Color (DCo) is an award-winning collective of architects and designers of culture. Our mission aims to diversify the way architecture is taught and practiced to amplify marginalized communities who’ve been historically silenced and erased throughout the design process.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Designing in Color’s team consist of six designers and architects located throughout the country from Detroit, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Boston, and Seattle. DCo facilitates educational programming, creates
workshops, designs socially responsible projects, and distributes digital initiatives, each meant to dismantle
the systemic racism built into the practice of architecture. Everything DCo creates is proudly informed by the
principles of social justice, spatial justice, and design equity. We want our partners, from students, professionals,
institutions, and local communities, to emerge from our collaborations knowledgeable of the injustices of their
fields, and excited to begin to pursue justice, all while designing in color.
DCo was started after my graduation from grad school in 2016 and partnership with my cofounders Opalia Meade and Rubin Quarcarpoome. We all experienced inequities in our education in architecture school and wanted to change how academia centered design education on eurocentric methodologies that disenfranchised the voices of black and brown designers. Our original goal was to change the curricula of academia, through our career the mission grew to not only change the profession but the communities it impacts.
While we are a team of 6 people with great work ethics, our biggest challenge is time. We are all part-time in our work for the organization so balancing our capacity for impact and our time for the rest of our lives is important. It is an ongoing challenge that relies upon our teams communication and commitment to each other.
Our story and brand is based on the expansion of the definition of what an architect should do and with whom.
What an architect is and can do, shouldn’t be commodified or defined by a white patriarchy. How do you unbuild racism? We base our platform on that. For us, it’s sharing this message about how do we practice being anti-racist in architecture design? And how do we ultimately empower communities and individuals who aren’t in architecture—people who are in town halls and community meetings, and trying to fight for their rights and their communities to preserve them—how do they get the language and the tools that are needed to ultimately organize and fend for themselves? How do we learn from them and be better designers? The are the key questions we ask ourselves as we work toward our mission everyday and as we move toward being a full-time entity.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
While Los Angeles is a sprawling city that requires are car on any visit, careful planning will allow time to see the many cultures of the city. Below are some of the best things to do during a visit in my opinion.
Koreatown: Audrey Irmas Pavilion + Korean BBQ
Liemart Park: Hot and Cool Cafe and Weekend Market
Malibu: Pier Cafe and El Matador Beach
DTLA: Broad Museum and Grand Central Market
Arts District: Arcade Bar – Wurstkushe
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Designing in Color’s work is built upon the foundation of many great trailblazers before us. Two people I would like to shout out is Deana Van Buren of Designing Justice Designing Spaces and Bryan C. Lee Jr. the founder of design justice firm Colloqate and leader of the Design as Protest Collective. The both of them are big inspirations for the work of DCo. Designing Justice Designing Spaces is using restorative justice as a means to build better spaces and healing traumatic experiences. Colloqate Design is a multidisciplinary Architecture + Design Justice practice focused on expanding community access to, and building power through the design of social, civic, and cultural spaces. The work they are doing is changing the world.
Linkedin: designing in color
Facebook: designing in color
Youtube: designing in color
Other: designing in color – Vimeo
Deepicka Mehta Rubin Quarcoopome Tessa Forde