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Black Matter

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

Creative Direction for the 2021 Black in Design Conference

A galactic image with a green burst and tracing purple line.

Design and visual identity executed by FISK.

Creative Direction by Atelier Oluwatosin.

The Black in Design Conference, organized by the Harvard University Graduate School of Design African American Student Union (GSD AASU), recognizes the contributions of the African diaspora to the design fields. It promotes discourse around the agency of the design profession to address and dismantle the institutional barriers faced by Black communities. The event brings together designers from distinct professional, academic, and experiential backgrounds to explore the possibilities for designing connections across the African diaspora. The conference hosted discussions and exhibitions at the intersections of technology, history, and design as a form of magic in bringing about equity for Black diasporic communities. We created a learning environment whereby the conference connected geographically distant participants synchronously to share their research and creative work, forming a global constellation of Black consciousness.

Black Matter logo.

The above posters and social media assets were created as promotional collateral for the conference.

The 2021 conference, Black Matter, celebrates Black space and creativity from the magical to the mundane. The conference aims to lift the Black spatial practices and experiences that operate below the surface of design theory and practice, bringing nuance to the trope of Black excellence and acknowledging the urgent political, spatial, and ecological crises facing Black communities across the diaspora.

Black Matter presentation board.
Black Matter presentation board.

An installation was constructed in the Frances Loeb Library at Harvard University advertising the conference.

A black night sky.
"Dark matter is a form of matter thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe and about 27% of its total mass–energy density or about 2.241×10−27 kg/m3. Its presence is implied in a variety of astrophysical observations, including gravitational effects that cannot be explained by accepted theories of gravity unless more matter is present than can be seen. For this reason, most experts think that dark matter is abundant in the universe and that it has had a strong influence on its structure and evolution. Dark matter is called dark because it does not appear to interact with the electromagnetic field, which means it does not absorb, reflect or emit electromagnetic radiation, and is therefore difficult to detect."

At Atelier Oluwatosin, we were highly involved in this project's strategy and conceptualization phase. We partnered with GSD AASU with naming the conference and clarifying the messaging. This strategic work was translated into the design, and we guided the designers through creative direction.

Conference Planning Team

Marketing + Branding Lead: Tosin Odugbemi⁣

Steering Committee Chairs: Caleb Negash and Tomi Laja⁣

Program + Speaker Outreach Lead: Somala Diby⁣

Logistics Lead: Nicholas Gray⁣

Finance Lead: Wanjiku Ngare⁣

Planning Support: Harvard Graduate School of Design

Conceptual References

Colored People Time: Mundane Futures, Quotidian Pasts, Banal Presents by Meg Onli

Afrofuturistic Politics: Less Power, More Commitment by Mawena Yehoussi

More than Enough, Elaine Welteroth

Dark Matter, Mario Gooden

Critical Fabulation (Saidiya Hartman): signifies a writing methodology that combines historical and archival research with critical theory and fictional narrative. From "Venus in Two Acts."

Project Credits

FISK Team: Bijan Berahimi, Cole Mitchell Johnson, Jess Vanam⁣

Web Development: FISK⁣

Animation: FISK⁣

Typefaces: Boogy Brut Poster by Bureau Brut, ABC Maxi Round by Dinamo⁣⁣

Do you have a meaningful project that you'd like well-researched creative direction for? Reach out to us at and let's chat about how we can execute your vision.

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