In December 2019, Metropolis Think Tank partnered with Studio O+A to discuss the important role of designers as activists. Interior designers transform the physical environments that we all live and work in every day. This skill can play a vital role in addressing many pressing issues of today, like climate change, growing inequality, political gridlock, an ill-equipped economic system, and cities with infrastructures that don't work.


"Who speaks for the earth?" Queried Douglas Burnham, Founding Partner of Envelope Architecture + Design. "Who speaks for the planet? Who speaks for people who don't have power, who aren't at the table? We designers are in that position." As an architect with an acute sense of his profession's social and cultural responsibilities, Burnham has embodied in real practice a theme that others in the room probably considered aspirational: Designer x Activist.


Panelists discussed the tough questions and how to make a difference with lasting sustainable practices, in and outside of the workplace. Panelists included: Verda Alexander, Studio O+A, JD Beltran, Founder and Director of the Center for Creative Sustainability; and Douglas Burnham, Envelope Architecture + Design. The panel was moderated by Avinash Rajagopal, Editor-in-Chief of Metropolis Magazine.