Design from opposite sides of the wall

The next AGI Open Conference takes its theme from the threat of Trump’s wall: Mexican graphic designer Alejandro Magallanes and Pentagram New York partner Michael Bierut discuss designing from within and beyond borders, politics, representation and nationhood

A person only needs to scan the Mexico-related headlines of The New York Times from recent months to glean an understanding of the continuing tensions between America and its southern neighbours: “The Other Border Problem: American Guns Going to Mexico” (April 13), “Trump: Military Will Guard Mexican Border” (April 5), “Sharp Words Over Wall Halt Plans for Mexican President to Visit White House” (March 1).  But beyond headlines and continuing government conflict, people keep living their lives relatively normally, and designers keep designing.

Two such people, graphic designers Alejandro Magallanes in Mexico and Michael Bierut in America, are linked through their membership of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), a professional association of the world’s leading graphic artists and designers. Otherwise, they operate from either side of a much-talked-about border which this year, is the subject of AGI’s annual conference, themed ‘El otro lado / The other side’.

Here, Magallanes and Bierut discuss designing from within and beyond borders, politics, representation and nationhood … and compare their own strongly-held opinions on the role and function of design in these tumultuous times.