The online world, our essential home over the past few months, has been trying to make sense of this “unprecedented” moment since we were all first instructed to keep two metres apart from each other. The oft-repeated social-media sentiment has been: 2020 is cancelled. But, no. In the days and weeks since George Floyd was killed (an act captured and shared on digital platforms) and an anti-racism protest movement bloomed around the world, a powerful poem, shared on Instagram, began to go viral. The writer Leslie Dwight wrote: “What if 2020 isn’t cancelled? What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for? A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw — that it finally forces us to grow. A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us from our ignorant slumber.”
Azure understands that design can help to make the world a better place, as the profession has long argued, but only if it centres the reality of inequity that persists in every society. True progressive change requires that design as a profession, an ethic and a way of thinking engages with the political systems and power structures that have buttressed the painfully inadequate status quo – with the purpose of upending them. When white supremacy has been embedded into the laws that govern how cities are allowed to develop, architects seeking to build inclusive and affordable communities must also become advocates for radical social and political change.
Just as coronavirus has crystallized the problems that many societies face – from a lack of affordable housing to fragile manufacturing sectors and the uncertain future of work – we sought in this issue to present projects and initiatives that boldly address them. The designers of the affordable housing projects we feature in our cover story are actively fighting against the policy-sanctioned barriers to their work. The manufacturers re-imagining their companies are doing so by tapping into the digital zeitgeist and new modes of production. Even the new, mostly Italian-made furnishings we present (one of the moments of pure-design appreciation that we also feature in this edition) were created under circumstances of dire economic straits.
We put together this first-ever web-exclusive issue of Azure while working in our homes and absorbing the world outside mostly through our screens. We wanted it to capture the moment itself as well as the thinking around the many ways we will be able to surmount it.
And we also wanted to bring an element of how the issue was made directly into its layout design. Hence, our animated cover featuring a neon-green font that would have been near to impossible to print. The project highlighted on it: Brooks + Scarpa’s Camarillo Apartments in Los Angeles, a project that shows affordability can be part of a vibrant, beautiful and sustainable housing design.
In uncertain times, our first-ever Web-Exclusive Issue explores the roadmaps for the future of design.