Born out of a passion for challenging how we think about design, Deem Journal is a new biannual publication founded by Nu Goteh, Alice Grandoit, and Marquise Stillwell.
The first issue, entitled Designing for Dignity, hopes to highlight those who are "often pushed to the margin, calling on them to explore the possibilities of what design can do". It takes a closer look at how the creative industries have upheld and contributed to systems of oppression. Alongside delving into these issues, Deem also looks at hyperlocal food systems, co-living, the psychology of space, urbanism, and how design is a social practice.
The cover story features Adrianne Maree Brown, the author of Emergent Strategy, a self-help book which focuses on personal, social, global, and ecological help.
"When you read our first issue, you can see that we were already writing in what was not only going to happen but also speaking to this exact moment which reinforces why the voices of black people need to be at the forefront of this moment of change and the platform we are building is perfectly poised to do that," says Marquise.
How did the trio come together? Nu met Marquise when he took on a design fellowship at Marquise's agency, Openbox. Around the same time, Alice and Nu had just launched their studio practice, Room For Magic, so Nu immediately suggested her as a partner. "That is how we began making magic," says Nu. "We knew that we were bonded by our love of magazines, cultivating ideas and putting them into the world. This was motivation enough for us to band together to create a publication of our own."
Where did the idea for Deem come from? "Both Alice and Marquise had a previous foray into the world of printed matter; Alice with a publication called Top Rank and Marquise with a publication called Makeshift Magazine," Nu says.
Alice adds: "We all believe magazines are a tool for community building, so we put our heads together to create a journal that discusses the things we cared about. We all love printed matter, we all have like extensive libraries, we also wanted to take our time to think about what could be a unique value proposition for us to bring to our community and to also to market."
The need for representation has always been important – but in light of recent events, do they feel the significant change we've wanted to see is finally happening? "Yes and no," says Nu. "Yes, people are becoming more aware that the default of centring whiteness and excluding everything else needs to be addressed and dismantled, but it has also become a race to superficially right a wrong that has been systematically designed for over 400 years within a matter of weeks with several social posts and donations. We are still in the uncomfortable phase of reckoning, and I'm also suspect of swift change, true representation is going to take more time and investment."
Have they ever felt held back in their careers? "Yes, many times," says Nu. "It has always been easier for our managers to project how they saw us, as opposed to who we are in the world and how we saw our careers developing. Partly because of their limited foresight and working within predominantly white spaces, we could never bring our full vibrant, dynamic self to work. The opportunities we were offered were often shaped on perception and not reality."
Nu, Alice, and Marquise are currently in the research and development phase of their second issue and just recently have celebrated their first anniversary of launching the Deem platform. What would be their advice to other creatives out there, just embarking on their careers? "Constantly develop your craft, know your value, create the opportunities you want to see, don't expect things to be so linear, and give yourself credit. What you are doing is not easy, and the fact you have come this far is a win in itself but note – we didn't come this far to come this far."