Black in Design 2021: “Black Matter”

Black, grey, purple, and green graphic advertising Black in Design 2021: Black Matter.

Event Description

The Black in Design conference, organized by the Harvard Graduate School of Design African American Student Union, recognizes the contributions of the African diaspora to the design fields and promotes discourse around the agency of the design professions to address and dismantle the institutional barriers faced by our communities. The fourth biannual conference, Black Matter, will take place virtually on October 8-10, 2021.

Black Matter celebrates the cultivation of Black design and creativity from the magical to the mundane. The conference aims to lift up Black spatial practices and experiences that operate below the surface of design discourse, bringing nuance to the trope of Black excellence and acknowledging the urgent political, spatial, and ecological crises facing Black communities across the diaspora.

This year’s conference will host discussions, exhibitions, and performances at the intersections of technology, history, and design, with focus on encouraging new design practices. Black Matter offers a dynamic virtual environment where geographically distant participants are connected synchronously to share their ideas and creative work, forming a global constellation of Black consciousness. Learn more about this year’s conference at


Friday, October 8, 2021

12 PM
Introduction by Caleb Negash and Tomi Laja
“Sacred Pause for the Cause” by Ashley Wilkerson

12:15 PM
Welcome remarks by Sarah Whiting, Dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture

12:20 – 1:20 PM
Keynote Address by Mpho Matsipa

6:30 – 8:30 PM
Virtual Beer ‘n Dogs with a DJ Set by Darien Carr


Saturday, October 9, 2021

9:00 – 10:00 AM
Movement and Breathwork with Andrea Yarbrough

10:00 – 11:00 AM
Panel Discussion 1: Everyday Portals to Black Cultural Pasts, Presents, and Futures

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Panel Discussion 2: Designing for Black Pleasure, Joy, and Intimacy

1:00 – 2:00 PM
The Nexus Podcast: Live (audio only)

2:00 – 2:30 PM
“Taking Up Space, Breath by Breath” by Ashley Wilkerson

3:00 – 4:00 PM
Workshop 1: Black Interior Spatial Thought with Ladi’Sasha Jones

6:00 – 8:00 PM
Virtual DJ Set by Tyler Kpakpo


Sunday, October 10, 2021

9:00 – 10:00 AM
Movement and Breathwork with Andrea Yarbrough

10:00 – 11:00 AM
Panel Discussion 3: Art, Media, and Black Urban Mobility

12:00 – 2:00 PM
Workshop 2: Dancing for the Internet with NIC Kay

12:00 – 1:00 PM
Workshop 3: The Funambulist Magazine x Black Quantum Futurism Collective

1:30 – 2:30 PM
Workshop 4: Black in Design Mentorship Initiative
Workshop 5: Design as Protest

2:45 PM
Closing Remarks by Caleb Negash and Tomi Laja

3:00 PM
“Guided Meditation For Continued Liberation” by Ashley Wilkerson


Friday, October 8

Keynote: Mpho Matsipa

Mpho Matsipa is a current Loeb Fellow at the GSD, and an educator, researcher and curator based at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She received her PhD in architecture from UC Berkeley. She is a researcher at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research and co-investigator on an Andrew Mellon research grant on Mobilities, Temporalities and African Political Futures, housed in the African Center for Society and Migration Studies.

Dr. Matsipa has written critical essays on art and architecture and curated several exhibitions and discursive platforms, including the South Africa Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2008, the African Mobilities 2.0 podcast series, and Studio-X Johannesburg. Her curatorial practice aims to support independent research practices across and beyond the African continent, and to democratize access by promoting discursive mobility among Black and African artists, scholars and designers.

Opening Breath

Ashley Wilkerson is a spirit-led actress, poet, trauma-informed meditation teacher, wellness practitioner, and consultant from Dallas, Texas. She currently resides in Los Angeles. She completed her Atma Yoga Training at Tree South LA and received her Mindfulness Training from Deer Park Monastery. Ashley has shared her expertise on various platforms such as All Def Digital, ATTN, and Facebook. She has presented at The California Wellness Foundation, Alliance For Safety & Justice, Revolve Impact, 72andSunny, Black Women For Wellness, Dallas Meditation Center, National Performance Network, etc. She is a principal member of Zeal Wellness and the founder of Brother Breathe, a mindfulness initiative designed for Black boys and men. Ashley has coordinated healing spaces and circles for hundreds of crime survivors and has helped bring more calm & positivity to various educational, corporate and creative sectors.

Saturday, October 9

Panel 1: Everyday Portals to Black Cultural Pasts, Presents, and Futures


Dorothy Berry currently serves as Digital Collections Program Manager at Harvard’s Houghton Library. She graduated from Indiana University with an MA from the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and an MLS from the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. In 2020-2021, she was honored with Library Journal’s “Movers and Shakers” Award, and the Society of American Archivists’ Mark A. Greene Emerging Leader Award. Her work has focused on the intersections of information science and African American history, ranging from newspaper database research on the earliest mentions of African American concert music performances, to inventory design for the cosmetic kit of Hollywood’s first Black woman makeup artist, to exhibit curation highlighting transatlantic art inspired by African American film. Archival materials open the door to history in visceral and unfettered ways; she is committed to a career of expanding access to those materials through creative and innovative ways focusing on digital and physical methodologies that unite stakeholder communities with their often displaced heritages. 

Emanuel Admassu is a Founding Partner of AD—WO and an Assistant Professor at Columbia University GSAPP, where he teaches design studios and theory seminars in urban design and architecture. He has previously taught at RISD Architecture and Harvard GSD. Admassu’s teaching, research, and design practices examine the international constellation of Afrodiasporic spaces.

Felecia Davis is an Associate Professor at the Stuckeman Center for Design and Computation at Pennsylvania State University and director of SOFTLAB. Her work in communicating with computational textiles through architecture has been recognized for connecting art with science and was recently featured by PBS in the Women in Science Profiles series. Davis is currently working on a book that examines the role of computational materials in our lives titled Softbuilt: Networked Architectural Textiles. Davis was a contributor to The Museum of Modern Art’s group architecture exhibition “Reconstructions: Blackness and Architecture in America.”  She is principal of FELECIADAVISTUDIO which has received several finalist awards for her architectural designs in open and invited architectural design competitions. She has exhibited and lectured about her work in textiles, computation, and architecture internationally, including at the Swedish School of Textiles, Microsoft Research, and the Media Lab at the MIT.


Panel 2: Designing for Black Pleasure, Joy, and Intimacy


Malcolm J. Rio is a graphic and architectural designer and thinker based in Providence, RI, where they work as an assistant professor of architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design. Rio is also currently a Ph.D. student in architecture history and theory at Columbia University, where they research on topics of sexuality, race, kinship, citizenship, urbanism, imperialism, and colonialism across the long-19th and 20th centuries. Rio holds a Master of Science in Architecture Studies from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where they were recognized with the 2019 SMArchS Thesis Prize and the Arthur Rotch Special Prize for research on the urbanism of house-ballroom culture in New York City titled “Drag Hinge: ‘Reading’ the Scales between Architecture and Urbanism” (2019). 

Additionally, Rio has earned a Master of Architecture from RISD, and both a Bachelor of Science in Philosophy and a Bachelor of Fine Art in Art + Design from Towson University. Rio’s scholarship, criticism and interviews have appeared in Thresholds, Avery Review, The New York Review of Architecture, ArchitectureMPS and Pidgin, as well as in forthcoming books like Living Room, a volume on sexuality, gender and architecture edited by Sophie Hochhäusl.

Ashon Crawley is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies and African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility, an investigation of aesthetics and performance as modes of collective, social imagination, as well as The Lonely Letters, an exploration of the interrelation of Blackness, mysticism, quantum mechanics and love. He is currently working on a third book, tentatively titled “Made Instrument,” about the role of the Hammond Organ in the institutional and historic Black Church, in Black sacred practice, and in Black social life more broadly. All his work is about otherwise possibility.

Adam R. is an audio/video technologist, DJ, and one of the co-founders of Papi Juice, a Brooklyn-based art collective that aims to affirm and celebrate the lives of queer and trans people of color. Adam’s music and digital art are inspired by his Caribbean and African-American heritage. His work reflects his interest in afro-futurism, afro-pessimism and the diaspora at large.

Leslie Wilson is an Assistant Professor of Art History and Museum Studies Program Liaison for Art History at Purchase College, State University of New York. Dr. Wilson’s teaching and research focuses on the global history of photography, modern and contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora, American art post-1900, and museum studies. Her current project charts the development and popularization of color photography in South Africa, from its inception in the early twentieth century to contemporary practice. She has held curatorial internships at the Art Institute of Chicago, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the St. Louis Art Museum. From 2015 to 2017, she was a 24-Month Chester Dale Predoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Aneesah Ettress is an arts professional and writer based in the Denver Metro Area. Moved by the intersections of art and religion, she seeks to center historically underrepresented narratives and the work of POC artists past and present. She recently completed the Master of Divinity program at The University of Chicago with a research interest in the prophetic imagination of contemporary Black artists. Through her curatorial practice, she hopes to communicate that art is at work to transform the soul.


Keynote: Lesley Lokko

Lesley Lokko is the founder and director of the African Futures Institute in Accra, Ghana, an independent postgraduate school of architecture and a public events platform. She was the founder and director of the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg, from 2014 to 2019 and the Dean of Architecture at the Bernard & Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York from 2019 to 2020. She is the editor of White Papers, Black Marks: Race, Culture, Architecture and editor-in-chief of FOLIO: Journal of Contemporary African Architecture.

In 2004, Professor Lokko made the successful transition from academic to novelist with the publication of her first novel, Sundowners, and has since followed with twelve further bestsellers, which have been translated into fifteen languages. She is a founding member of the UN-Habitat Council on Urban Initiatives, a member of the 17th International Jury of the Venice Architecture Biennale, and a trustee of the London-based Architecture Foundation. Professor Lokko trained as an architect at the Bartlett School of Architecture and holds a PhD in Architecture from University of London.


Sunday, October 10

Panel 3: Art, Media, and Black Urban Mobility


Wandy Pascoal is an artist and architectural designer who is interested in the ways housing design and policy come together to shape global urban landscapes. This inquiry led to her current role as the Housing Innovation Design Fellow, a position co-hosted by the City of Boston’s Housing Innovation Lab and the Boston Society for Architecture. In this work she strives to center the many voices of Boston’s residents and their complex experiences in order to drive the design and implementation of the city’s current and future housing models. Wandy holds a BFA in Architecture from UMass Amherst and a Master of Architecture from MassArt where she focused on the urban and housing design of a self-sustaining eco-village in her home country of Angola. Previously, she worked as an architectural designer at Stull & Lee, Inc focused on affordable housing projects in the New England area. She has also worked with the Madison Park Development Corporation, where she first gained a deeper understanding of the complexities of local services and housing creation.

Jamila Moore Pewu, is a public and digital historian whose work explores how and why groups and individuals reimagine the spaces around them to create new urban futures.  She is particularly interested in examining the concept of reimagining through the unique historical, geographic and methodological perspectives posed by African Diasporic and or Black Atlantic communities both past and present.  As Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities and New Media in History at California State University, Fullerton, Dr. Moore Pewu leads the history department’s digital humanities initiatives. In addition, she teaches survey and upper division courses in U.S. History, African History, and Historical Research and Writing. 

Michael Uwemedimo is a current Loeb Fellow at the GSD, cofounder and director of the Collaborative Media Advocacy Platform, and senior visiting research fellow at King’s College London. As a founding member of the filmmaking collaboration Vision Machine and a producer of the Academy Award-nominated, BAFTA-winning documentary, The Act of Killing, he has been developing innovative approaches to documentary practice as a means of enabling critical reflection on histories of political violence and challenges to official impunity. Michael is cofounder and project director of the Human City Project, a community-driven media, architecture, planning, and human rights initiative in Nigeria. There he explores design processes through which violently marginalized urban communities might gain a greater measure of control over their representation and the shaping of their cities. Michael has curated major programs at the National Film Theatre, Tate Modern, Architecture Association, and Institute for Contemporary Art, London; sat on international film festival juries; and presented his research and work internationally. Recent publications include, “A Cinema-séance of Power and Violence in Sumatra’s Plantation Belt,” in Killer Images: Documentary Film, Memory and the Performance of Violence (2012), and “Violence By Design,” in Dey Your Lane: Lagos Variations (2016).

Jordan Weber, current Loeb Fellow at the GSD, is a Des Moines-based regenerative land sculptor and environmental activist who works at the cross section of social justice and environmental racism. Most recently, Jordan was commissioned by the Walker Art Center to create an urban farm in North Minneapolis called Prototype for poetry vs. rhetoric (deep roots), which acts as a counter tactic to industrial violence upon biodiverse lands and racially diverse communities. The project was produced in collaboration with North Minneapolis community members during the height of the George Floyd protests in late May 2020. He is currently in residence at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and Washington University’s Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Equity and Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. Jordan’s two-year project residency centers on social and environmental justice, incarceration, and healing, with a specific focus on the Close the Workhouse campaign—a collaborative project that is dedicated to the closure of St. Louis’ Medium Security Institute, known locally as the Workhouse. Awards and fellowships include the Joan Mitchell Award for Sculptors, Creative Capital NYC Award, A Blade of Grass fellowship NYC, Tanne Foundation Award, and the African American Leadership Forum Award.


Passive Programming and Workshops

Workshop 1: Black Interior Spatial Thought with Ladi’Sasha Jones

Ladi’Sasha Jones is a writer and curator from Harlem, NY. She has written for Aperture, Avery Review, Arts.Black, Houston Center for Photography, Art X Lagos, Temporary Art Review, Art-Agenda, The Art Momentum, and Recess among others. Her project, Black Interior Space / Spatial Thought was commissioned by The Shed (NYC) as a part of Open Call 2021 and was the recipient of a 2021 Research and Development award from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Currently, Jones is the Artist Engagement Manager for The Laundromat Project. She held prior appointments at the Norton Museum of Art, the New Museum’s IdeasCity platform, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She holds a B.A. in African American Studies from Temple University and a M.A. in Arts Politics from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts.


Workshop 2: Dancing for the Internet with NIC Kay

NIC Kay (b. 1989 Bronx, NY) makes performances and organizes performative spaces. Their works have been performed nationally and internationally in spaces including Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany; Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Toronto, Canada; Encuentro 19, Mexico City, Mexico; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, United Kingdom; Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Portland, OR; and University of Arts, Zürich, Switzerland. NIC was a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award (2020). They published their first book, Cotton Dreams, with Candor Arts in 2020. NIC is a Black queer trans non-binary person.


Workshop 3: The Funambulist Magazine x Black Quantum Futurism Collective

Caroline Honorien is a trained art historian, curator, and researcher. After graduating from Paris’ Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Caroline Honorien has mainly worked for editorial and curatorial projects in art institutions and collectives in France and the U.S. Her researches and writings revolve around arts in the African Diaspora, with a special focus on emerging contemporary art practices and strategies in France. Her current Ph.D. research focuses on the diasporic experience of futurity and utopia. She previously served as an editorial assistant at The Funambulist, where she now forms part of the Editorial Advisory Board.

Margarida Waco is an Angolan-born, European-raised, and Stockholm-based architect. With lived experiences from geographies spanning from Angola, D.R. Congo, Republic of the Congo, France, and Denmark, her work straddles research, publishing, design, and curating. She holds a master’s degree in architecture and is currently investigating the spatial toolboxes of Black liberation struggles in Southern Africa through her Ph.D. at the Graduate School of Architecture. In addition, she previously served as the head of strategic outreach of The Funambulist where she now forms part of the Editorial Advisory Board.


Workshop 4: Black in Design Mentorship Initiative

Rania Karamallah believes that design should be defined and inspired from and for the community. She grew up to embrace the lessons from her homeland of Nubia (modern day Sudan), where pyramids and architecture were built thousands of years ago and carried stories of human civilization and culture throughout this time. As she believes in the power of cultural representations in architecture, she also witnessed the effect of climate change in the built environment. Rania believes in design that represents the culture and portrays a human value into space, one that solves a problem and tells a story of the people. While working as an architectural designer at Perkins & Will, Rania is now also pursuing master’s degree in urban planning from the GSD. She hopes to widen her understanding of the built environment nationally and internationally and find her passion in the intersection of architecture, design, community and city planning.

Natalie Volcy is a student at Wentworth Institute of Technology and is majoring in Interior Design. She previously lived in Boston but now resides in Brookline with her two sisters. Her family has supported her in all she has undertaken and has encouraged a good work ethic and is always there to guide her in her life. Religion has been a strong foundation in her upbringing.  Natalie loves to draw and paint, and enjoys poetry, and dance. She is passionate about residential and commercial design. She wants people to be comfortable in their space and “not feel embarrassed about how they live.” Natalie would like people who have experienced hardships to have a fresh start in life. This includes ensuring that people who have housing insecurity have functional spaces with the necessities required for their life. She would love to travel to other countries to not only learn about different design styles but to also ensure that when working with diverse people she has the tools to design their space according to their country’s culture, style and architecture. In 2021, Natalie participated in the Black in Design Mentorship Program and later in the GSD’s Design Discovery Virtual program.

Olivia Fox is a senior at Brookline High School, and grew up in Roxbury. She has the support of her mom, her teachers, and her new mentors acquired from the Black in Design Program. Olivia enjoys after school cheer and she loves to listen to and play music, specifically guitar because she has been playing since she was six. She also enjoys taking care of her 13 plants. What she likes about design is the ability to do it “anywhere and at any time; it’s so easy to make it your own, you can design a space, a shoe, a guitar, the list goes on and on.” Oliva participated in the inaugural launch of the Black in Design Mentorship Program, which provided her with the opportunity to join the GSD’s Design Discovery Virtual program, where she continued to meet so many great people. Through these opportunities, Olivia learned more about design and what it can be and how to look at art and architecture through different perspectives.

Erika Eitland is the Director of the Human Experience (Hx) Lab at Perkins&Will where she is focused on the public health impact of K-12 schools, affordable housing and urban resilience. She received her doctorate from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Environmental Health where she was the lead author of ‘Schools for Health: Foundations for Student Success’ report that examined more than 250 scientific articles on the association between building quality and student health and performance. She has presented her research internationally at the World Bank, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, American Society of Interior Design and U.S. Green Building Council. She also holds a Masters of Public Health in Climate and Health from Columbia University.

Wanjiku Ngare is a Master of Urban Planning candidate at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. She is broadly interested in how planning and design can be in deeper dialogue with public imagination as we build a more just world. She sees spatial and policy interventions that center the voices and needs of marginalized communities as critical levers for increasing equity. Wanjiku has a Bachelor of Science in foreign service from Georgetown University. Post-college, her professional experiences spanned from expanding renewable energy in response to the climate crisis through project finance; to reducing key barriers for smallholder farmers in East African countries through feasibility studies and funding strategies. In her spare time, she has taken her passion for art and storytelling into building a social impact campaign for a recently premiered feature-length documentary film, Dreams of Daraa. She is also a member of the Black in Design 2021 conference organizing committee.

David Carter is an alumnus of Baltimore School for the Arts and Morgan State University, and has recently joined Hive Design Collaborative as an Architectural Designer in Kansas City, Missouri. David graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 2019 and relocated to the Midwest to pursue his first architecture opportunity at a firm in Springfield, Missouri. He gained 2 years of experience in project management for retail developments, which enhanced his ability to conduct different projects. As a new member of Hive, David is striving to help cultivate new designs by integrating his aesthetic vision into future project developments.

Workshop 5: Design as Protest

Kiki Cooper earned a B.A. in Landscape Architecture from The Pennsylvania State University and currently is studying at the Harvard Graduate School of Design for concurrent Master’s degrees in Landscape Architecture in Urban Design and Design Studies. Kiki is an active member of the ASLA Emerging Professionals Committee and is a Design as Protest Core Organizer. During their undergrad and after entering the profession, they developed a myriad of passions that shaped their core design principles rooted in food security, equitable design, community building, and design justice.

Deena Darby received her Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University and is an emerging professional pursuing licensure in New York. Originally from Savannah, GA, she attended a performing arts high school where her specialized focus was in contemporary and classical ballet. Initially sparked by her background in dance, her passions in architecture lie in the design of socially just and environmentally responsive cultural, civic, and public spaces, believing these spaces are the ones that have the most diverse user group and thus have the potential to have the greatest impact on those who occupy and experience them. She has been a Core Organizer with Design as Protest since June of 2020 focused on design justice through Direct Action. She has served as a guest reviewer at Ryerson University and the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction. In 2020 she was one of 16 emerging professionals selected for the AIA TORCH Mentorship Program and is an active member of nycobaNOMA and Design Advocates. She currently works at Studio Fōr and resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Sophie Weston Chien is a designer-organizer. She focuses on solving complex social-spatial issues by building communities and spaces to promote social and ecological justice. Sophie is pursuing a Masters in Landscape Architecture at the GSD as a Dean’s Merit Scholar and is one-half of the collaboration Just Practice. She is a core member of the Design As Protest Collective, and on the Board of Directors at DESIGNXRI. She has a BFA/Bachelor of Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design with a minor in Politics and Policy and served as Student Body President, AIA Diversity Advancement Scholar, and Maharam Fellow. Sophie has worked for National Park Service in Nome, Agency Landscape + Planning in Cambridge, Oualalou + Choi in Paris, LA-Màs in Los Angeles, Biden/Harris Campaign in Charlotte, and recently served as a Teaching Fellow at RISD Architecture.

Ebony Dumas is an Urban and Regional Planner highly skilled at building consensus among multiple stakeholders for local and national projects in economic development, creative placemaking, and neighborhood planning. Interested in creative and public spaces as they contribute to economic development, Ebony has also developed presentations on equitable solutions and community building for conferences, university groups, and national cultural institutions. Ebony is an Associate Planner in Arlington County, Virginia’s Comprehensive Planning team, an Association for Community Design board member, and a DJ (aka DJ Natty Boom) who spins music that ranges from Tropical Bass, International Pop, House and Hip-Hop. She has also played at diverse venues such as The JFK Center for the Performing Arts, DC’s 9:30 Club and across the Mid-Atlantic Region, New Orleans, and Lima, Peru.

Taylor Holloway is a designer, architect, and educator who uses design-driven approaches to promote equity in the built environment. As a biracial woman, first generation college graduate, and individual who has experienced the U.S. foster care system, issues of creative voice, belonging, and healing are personal to her. Her work is focused on developing new and radical uses of public space, advancing collective capacities for social impact, and championing the preservation of shared cultural legacies. With a unique ability to see and capture different perspectives, Taylor is adept at identifying assets and utilizing resources in order to facilitate the creation of people- and community-centered design solutions. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College, a Master of Architecture from the University of Illinois, and is honored to be a 2020 NextCity Vanguard, a 2019 Association for Community Design Fellow, an AIA Jason Pettigrew Memorial ARE Scholar, and the 2013 AIA Chicago Martin Roche Travel Fellow. Her organization, Public Design Agency, utilizes design-thinking, public art, and architecture to train future generations of designers, builders, & change-makers.


Conference Chairs

Caleb Negash, cochair of Black in Design 2021, is an MArch I candidate at the GSD. He has worked for the African American Design Nexus as a writer, researcher, and cohost of the podcast The Nexus, exploring the intersections of design, identity, and practice through interviews with Black artists, designers, writers, and educators. Before attending the GSD, he taught architecture studios at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore, and received a BA in Architecture from Princeton University. His research interests include uncovering and narrating Black spatial practices that have been disenfranchised, discredited, or ignored within architectural and urban history.

Tomi Laja, cochair of Black in Design 2021, is an MArch II candidate at the GSD and holds a BArch degree from Iowa State University. Currently, she is an editorial assistant at Harvard Design Magazine and a program assistant at the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Before attending the GSD, her previous experiences include contributing to The Funambulist by Its Readers: Political Geographies from Chicago and Elsewhere and the Making Futures Bauhaus+ Mobile Workshop with Raumlabor for the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, as well as assistant editing The Funambulist Magazine: Politics of Space and Bodies in Paris and Scapegoat: Architecture, Landscape, and Political Economy in Berlin. With professional interests in research-based architectural and exhibition design and writing, her research includes Afrofuturist and ecofeminist perspectives as they relate to agency, consciousness, and the built environment.

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