Dezeen Magazine

Architects and designers declare that "black lives matter" and call for racial justice after George Floyd's death

The architecture and design industry has spoken out against racism in America with Bec Brittain, Jessica Walsh and The Future Perfect posting a black square to Instagram, and Harriet Harriss calling for an "an end to this right now".

Others including Yves Behar, Yinka Ilori and Donna Wilson called for racial justice as George Floyd's death in police custody prompted protests across the US.

"Black lives matter"

New York designer Brittain posted an uncaptioned black square.

New York graphic designer Walsh and design gallery The Future Perfect posted the same image. The Future Perfect added in the caption that it was pausing marketing activities so it could "express our solidarity with and support of those voices that need to be amplified".

"We want to step back as a visible commercial body while stepping up as citizens, friends and allies," the gallery wrote. "Black lives matter. The police are rioting."

"Why is it so hard to understand that racism hurts us all?"

"Why is it so hard to understand that racism hurts us all? Only when all members of a society are treated equally and fairly will the country prosper culturally," San Francisco designed Yves Behar wrote on Instagram.

"It's our job to own up to our privileges and biases and times where we let racism slide because it didn't affect us directly," wrote Asian-American architect Dong-Ping Wong.

"It's our job to own up to our privileges and biases"

New York lighting studio Apparatus highlighted racial inequality by reposting a list of activities that white people can enjoy "without thinking twice".

It begins with "I can go birding," in reference to Amy Cooper, a white woman who called the police pretending to be in fear of her life when Chris Cooper, a black man who enjoys birdwatching, asked Cooper to put her dog on a leash in accordance with the park's rules.

"We need an end to THIS right now"

Pratt Institute dean Harriet Harris tweeted a link to a document called "Anti-racism resources for white people".

Including books, articles and podcasts, the resource was created after the death of Breonna Taylor, a black woman that Louisville Metro Police shot dead in her bed on 13 March during a search.

"Sharing this brilliant educator resource," Harriss tweeted. "And frankly, because we need an end to THIS right now."

"Care about how black people are treated"

Designers outside America voiced their solidarity. "If you love me, love my work and care about how black people are treated and want to see change then you will fight with me and us for what is right," wrote London designer Yinka Ilori.

"If you don't please unfollow me, I'm not here for your fake love." The message accompanied an image of The True Crown, an artwork by Richard Rawlins depicting a clasped black hand rising from a teacup, which symbolises colonialism.

British architect Adjaye reposted a photograph by Nathan Hibbert showing a blazing Minneapolis housing block set on fire during the 29 May protests.

"We are proud to have such diverse mix of friends and colleagues young and old and appalled that anyone should be treated with a different set of rules in today’s multicultural world," added British textile designer Donna Wilson, alongside a quote from Nelson Mandela.

"I can't breathe"

Floyd, 46, died in Minneapolis on Monday 25 May when a white officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds while pinning him to the ground. Video footage captured Floyd repeatedly saying "I can't breathe".

His death sparked protests that spread from Minneapolis to cities across the country, including Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York City.

"We are mindful of this nation's dark history of racial inequality"

Architecture organisations joined the calls for racial equality. "As Americans, we are mindful of this nation's dark history of racial inequality," said American Institute of Architects president Jane Frederick.

"We are appalled by any actions that further threaten the universal respect and human dignity that everyone deserves," she wrote in a statement titled Everyone deserves universal respect and human dignity.

"The fact is that architects and AIA, in our more than 160-year history, have not always felt compelled to share our perspectives," Frederick said.

"But the times we live in, the horrific nature of the events we witness, and the role we see for every member of our society demands that we speak out."

"We are all horrified by the events that unfolded over the last several days"

American Society of Landscape Architects president Wendy Miller issued a statement saying she was "roiling with emotions".

"We are all horrified by the events that unfolded over the last several days," Miller wrote. "I am personally roiling with emotions, watching in real-time the injustices and inequitable treatment of people and communities who are in anguish because of centuries of racial discrimination."

Black Females in Architecture, a community for black women in the architecture, planning, landscape, urbanism and construction industry, shared a 10-step guide that Mireille Charper created to educate white people on how to be anti-racist.

"As an anti-racist university it is vital that our community's platforms and voices speak up against bigotry and discrimination – to actively listen, educate and advocate for real change," said London design school Central Saint Martins.

Other figures from the fashion industry, including designers Claire Waight KellerRoksanda Illincic, and Edward Enniful, editor-in-chief of British Vogue, also posted support for racial justice issues.