The most interesting design opportunities are with ...

... cities. I recently shared a collection of design work that emphasized the importance of engaged neighborhoods, the arts, education, small business, and mass transit. In the city of Omaha, where I live, I’m able to engage with organizations and institutions on a creative level with design and ideas. I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to do so and a few projects we have starting soon involve other important aspects of our fine city. 

With many of my colleagues, it’s no secret that I’ve never liked the idea of designing for big corporations. I think it’s an unfortunate reality that so much professional design work is done for big brands with big budgets and no souls. For entities completely devoid of place and far apart from any meaningful connection to a person aside from a monetary transaction.

In our cities, where people of the world now predominately live, we all need to work hard to make sure they’re places that are thoughtful, engaging, and inclusive. Design can play a big part in making that a reality. Design can help a city thrive. It can help the people that live there feel like they belong, like their place is special, and like they’re moving into a brighter future. Whether with a campaign to showcase all our neighborhoods or a website to allow students to share what they’ve learned about the history of a city. 

It’s a challenge to work within a bureaucracy and with limited financial resources. But the passion of people who care about where they live is inspiring and contagious. We’re all living here, side by side. If we’re tireless, smart, agile, and open-minded, there’s no limit to what can be done for a city to make it the best it possibly can be.

When it comes to the future of design, working with a city has so much potential to solve important problems and create opportunities for everyone while we all live and work with each other in this place we call home. It’s design as civic engagement, and it’s only going to become more important as we move forward together.