Black in Design 2021: "Black Matter," Keynote Address by Mpho Matsipa

Event Description:

The Black in Design conference, organized by the Harvard Graduate School of Design African American Student Union, recognizes the contributions of the African diaspora to the design fields and promotes discourse around the agency of the design professions to address and dismantle the institutional barriers faced by our communities. The fourth biannual conference, Black Matter, will take place virtually on October 8-10, 2021.

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

This year’s conference will host discussions, exhibitions, and performances at the intersections of technology, history, and design, with focus on encouraging new design practices. Black Matter offers a dynamic virtual environment where geographically distant participants are connected synchronously to share their ideas and creative work, forming a global constellation of Black consciousness. Learn more about this year’s conference at


Mpho Matsipa is a current Loeb Fellow at the GSD, and an educator, researcher and curator based at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She received her PhD in architecture from UC Berkeley. She is a researcher at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research and co-investigator on an Andrew Mellon research grant on Mobilities, Temporalities and African Political Futures, housed in the African Center for Society and Migration Studies.

Dr. Matsipa has written critical essays on art and architecture and curated several exhibitions and discursive platforms, including the South Africa Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2008, the African Mobilities 2.0 podcast series, and Studio-X Johannesburg. Her curatorial practice aims to support independent research practices across and beyond the African continent, and to democratize access by promoting discursive mobility among Black and African artists, scholars and designers.



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