Illustration by Tala Safié

Last week, #DesignTwitter launched into a classic ethics question: Is it possible to separate an artist from their work? Designers might face this question when selecting clients; if a client is a known predator, then the decision not to work with them is a simple one. Educator and design critic Brian LaRossa asked Design Twitter a slightly less cut-and-dry question, though: How do personal ethics factor in the design decision-making process?

It’s very easy not to use type designer and child molester Eric Gill’s most famous typeface; there are plenty other early 20th-century humanistic sans’ to choose from. But educator Silas Munro was quick to point out that we must be alert to cancel culture’s potential for historical erasure:

Until 1989, biographies failed to mention that Gill was an abuser and pedophile. When design students are taught Adolf Loos’ “Ornament and Crime,” what often gets left out is that he was convicted as a pedophile for exploiting girls under 10 from poor families. Context matters. Educator Paul Soulellis brought further nuance to the Twitter thread, emphasizing the importance of learning and understanding how an individual or institution has done wrong, rather than only focusing on cultural achievements:

Another important part of this conversation is considering who reaps monetary benefit and royalties—we don’t want our dollars supporting a predator. And when it comes to historical examples, teaching history in a way that is properly contextualized is vital.

Meaningful discussions like these are Design Twitter at its best. Also nice: finding solace in others’ experiences of the creative processes. Perhaps this internal dialogue sounds familiar…

Certainly seems to have struck a (good) chord.

As did this Tweet from our protégé, who pulled back the curtains to reveal the process behind a rebranding Nike Air.

It’s a nice breakdown of the project start to finish, with some internal details that lend that voyeuristic pleasure of being a fly on the wall of design team meetings for a large-scale project.

Plus, some early concepts.

And fire animations!

But not all sneaker rebrands were as eagerly received this week. Reebok’s “redesign” was quickly called to task by designers weighing in on both the lack of effort as well as the attempt to make it “less awful.”

Wonder if the brief was shared via video? This is apparently a popular (read: horrifying) way for clients to communicate with their designers.

Makes us wistful for simpler times…