A Book Apart

Meet the Book: Inclusive Design Communities

Aug 23, 2022

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Turquoise book cover portion: Inclusive Design Communities by Sameera Kapila.

We can’t wait for you to read Inclusive Design Communities, a new book by Sameera Kapila, launching October 4th.

And to give you a sneek peak behind the book cover, we’re debuting our Meet the Book Q&A series! Learn what inspired Sam to write her new book, how she chose the cover color, what the most challenging part of the book was to write, and more about what’s inside.

A Book Apart: What was the initial spark that motivated you to write this book?

Sameera Kapila: I feel like I have a unique bird’s-eye view of the design industry because of the different roles I’ve had in it. Like my dad, I’ve always been interested in systems, and when I encounter a block or a challenge in the system, I frequently find myself taking a step back to look for gaps and opportunities. For example, I knew what the gaps were between schools and workplaces, and what new design graduates didn’t know and what companies expected them to know. But the gaps I saw were specifically around inclusion, so I thought if we could close them, we could make some powerful shifts in the design field, to make it more accessible and welcoming. Because I’ve worn so many hats in my career, my design, research, analysis, and observation skills came together so I could see the problem (and possible solutions) holistically.

A Book Apart: How long did it take you to write this book?

SK: Oh gosh, probably two to three years. And I still want to keep developing it as my own vocabulary and understanding of the subject matter evolves.

A Book Apart: When/where did you feel most in a state of flow while writing this book? Least?

SK: Before the pandemic, I imagined writing in a cabin in the Texas Hill Country, or visiting my favorite hometown beach, where I wrote multiple articles for net Magazine in the past. Due to the pandemic, though, I didn't travel anywhere. I felt most in the flow when I had one of my writing playlists pumping through my headphones, sitting at my computer.

For a lot of the process, it felt like I was feeling the least flow, because of the pandemic and feeling like I had cabin fever (oh, the irony! I guess I got close to the cabin vision after all). To feel creative, I need people and nature. And I was able to access nature, but not people. The pandemic, churning politics, and the loss of a parent made it hard to keep writing.

A Book Apart: How did you come up with the title for this book?

SK: Inclusive and design came fairly quickly because I had to use those two words when I told people what I was writing about. I’ve spent time in many different spaces as a student, educator, designer, speaker, writer, manager, and more, and I almost named it Inclusive Design Spaces. However, the word spaces made it feel more like it was about physical environments, and I think the word communities lends itself more to the groups of people who the book is about, and what they have in common.

A Book Apart: In one sentence, what is your book’s driving, or most important, idea?

SK: No matter what community you’re a part of, there is always a way to move the needle forward and make an impact.

A Book Apart: Who did you write this book for?

SK: For designers at any level (students, teachers, hiring and design managers, designers at work, community organizers and leaders, and anyone in tech) who are ready to challenge the status quo and help evolve the design community into a one that is welcoming, encouraging, and accessible.

A Book Apart: What part of the book was most challenging to write?

SK: The first two chapters talk about where we are currently, and the internal work that people need to do. Everyone is in various settings with a range of unique identities and needs for inclusion. And people think about inclusion differently or have internalized “-isms” at different levels. It’s hard to pack every possible scenario into two chapters. Not every suggestion will apply to everyone. Like many things, inclusion is nuanced.

A Book Apart: Why will readers want to learn about this topic from you?

SK: I think readers will want to learn about this topic because design is about people interacting with our work—and people interacting with each other to do that work. I believe we’ want to bring that same level of care about our audiences’ experiences to our colleagues, classmates, students, and networks.

A Book Apart: How do you hope the web will change once people read and apply lessons in your book?

SK: I hope people take a step back and realize that they’re equipped to make a change if they invest in their own education and learning, and I hope they’re empowered to take action that supports others and communities more than it may help themselves.

I also hope that marginalized designers feel seen and validated. I hope they see that they’re not alone. I hope they feel like they’re reading the book I wish I had earlier in my career.

A Book Apart: How did you choose the cover color for this book?

SK: The book’s color is a celebration of where I grew up: a Dutch island nation in the Caribbean called Curaçao. Curaçao is forty miles north of South America, and is very close to North America and its radio and TV stations. Europeans colonized the nation, whose earliest people were Indigenous, and it has so much African culture post-slavery. It’s a pretty inclusive melting pot of many cultures. Because the island sits near tectonic plates, it has shallow waters around the whole island, which means that all of the beaches have beautiful, crystal-clear, aqua blue water extending out to sea. That’s the color we chose.


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