Where are the black designers? Announcing a one-year partnership with Ustwo

Screenshot 2023 04 13 at 08.03.43


Non-profit design advocacy organization Where’s the Black Designer? (WATBD?) has announced a year-long partnership with digital product studio Ustwo. Ustwo aims to foster connections between black design talent through networking events for designers, new and existing designers, and recruiters.

WATB? . With about 10,000 members in a free-to-access space, WATBD? has curated “several more general welcoming networks” and a few different channels “specific to a place or discipline,” he said. Rosannah Bagley, Head of Marketing and Creative Partnerships, said.

Offsetting that, WATBD?’s focus is on UX, UI digital, and product design, making Ustwo a strong candidate for an initial long-term partnership, but the space is open to designers from all walks of life.

WATBD recently achieved official non-profit certification. Funded primarily by donations from industry professionals, studios and agencies. “We give back to the community whatever we get,” Bagley said, noting that “there are enough barriers to being a black designer in this space,” and the organization doesn’t want to add a financial barrier on top of that. bottom.

After years of fully virtual contact, WATBD? has begun holding in-person events in various cities including LA, Houston, Portland and London. This allows people to build friendships they have built virtually. Bagley met her Ustwo team at their first meetup in London in September 2022 to discuss the collaboration and its potential.

But WATBD? was previously supported by brands like Spotify, Google and Adobe, but Bagley said those partnerships were short-lived and helped spread awareness through free virtual events. Bagley believes WATBD™ and Ustwo’s first long-term partnership is a company that is “not only global, but has multiple outputs and has really invested in diversifying its design space.”

Gabriel Marquez, managing director of Ustwo New York, explains that the partnership will have “both soft and hard outputs,” with impact reporting being one of the “key deliverables.” Once the partnership is complete, WATBD and Ustwo will produce a report showing what they have achieved in the year in terms of “recruiting, referrals, knowledge sharing and mentorship,” he says. This gives both organizations an opportunity to “look back at what they’ve done and the changes they’ve made,” Bagley adds.

According to Bagley, one of the main goals of the initiative is “to bring people together through events and experiences to connect them with the Ustwo team.” According to Marquez, the design industry “is fueled by networks and connections,” so it benefits from having a “sense of community.”

People often focus on “fragmented deliverables,” such as getting people to work, but Marquez believes that “you can support people once you’ve stepped into the opportunity that’s been created.” We know it’s one of the most important things. He attributes this to “abnormal misrepresentation at the leadership level.” This means finding ways to support the Black Design community through other channels.

To extend its reach, WATBD will intermittently take over Ustwo’s social media accounts and showcase parts of the community during the partnership. “In general, the creative industry is very capital-focused, but there are a lot of other talents out there,” she adds. WATBD wants to reach people outside the city through both in-person and virtual events.

Data collection is another focus of the partnership. Bagley says that in the UK color designers are often called him BAME, although the US is more advanced in research. The main purpose of this partnership is to conduct more specific research to improve and update industry data.

Design diversity is a “global issue”, with different focuses in the UK and the US, but “it’s absolutely critical that both sides are involved,” says Bagley. With both Ustwo New York equally involved, Marquez describes the partnership as “a cohesive single commitment rather than a localized initiative.”

The partnership is set to kick off at dual launch events in New York and London on April 27, 2023. The event isn’t just for designers, but WATBD is keen to have “decision makers” in the room “from recruiters to creative directors,” he says Bagley.

Marquez and Bagley hope to continue working with each other in other capacities if the partnership is successful.


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