Accessible DesignBest of the 2017EssayYear End Roundups

Best of 2017: Think Pieces for the New Year

by Grace Bonney

Happy New Year everyone! It’s 2018, and before we step into the new year with brand new posts (tomorrow), I wanted to share our favorite think pieces from 2017. From discussions about design and disability to thoughts on buying your first home, these essays and articles were all about digging deeper into the ways design affects our lives, and vice versa. This year we tackled the State of the 2017 Blogosphere, lessons learned from battling cancer, how to respond to negative comments online, how to source fabrics ethically, the importance of representation in design, the ways design is political, how to support refugees, and so much more. Read on for this year’s Top 15 pieces that made us stop, think, listen and learn. Hopefully we can carry these lessons with us into the new year. –Grace

Image above: Our most commented post of the year, our annual State of the Blog Union, where I break down how the blogging world has changed (for better or worse). 

Garrett focused on disability and design this year, connecting with some incredible families and experts who shared tips, ideas and guidelines for designing homes that are accessible for everyone. These 10 Tips for making a home wheelchair-friendly were great.

Speaking of our guy Gar, after kicking cancer to the curb, Garrett shared an amazing piece about what he learned from cancer. (We are all overjoyed that he’s healthy and in remission!)

I shared my thoughts on what I wish I’d known before buying our first (and very, very old) home. So many lessons and mistakes to avoid…

Our etiquette column came back this fall, starting with a discussion about how to handle offensive conversations and comments online (and IRL).

While we focused mainly on showcasing homes that tipped the needle back toward “more is more” (in terms of color, pattern and texture) this year, we also looked into the ways Minimalism has affected our community. These 10 Tips for Living Minimally Longterm were a BIG hit.

Artist Grace D. Chin broke down all of the ways that art and design are inherently political and discussed whether or not designers have a responsibility to discuss politics and social issues in their work.

Writer, educator, and activist Rebekah Taussig discussed the intersection of design and disability this year.

With textiles from around the globe rising in popularity and popping up in shops everywhere, we discussed how to source and buy them ethically.

What do I wish I’d known before starting Design*Sponge? Here are the main 7 things.

Together with Libby VanderPloeg and help from the International Refugee Coalition, we created a short, helpful video that shared ways to be an active ally to immigrants and refugees.

Where do art and activism intersect? We talked to one artist who wasn’t afraid to speak up and explain why she feels it’s so important.

Visibility is one of the most important steps toward greater equality in the creative community. Paige Ricks shared a great post with us about why this representation matters so much in branding.

Lastly, I looked at how it took me 36 years to ease into and accept my personal style — which turned out to be a lot different than the style I’ve been known for here at DS.

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  • Thank you for publishing these amazing essays and interviews! I especially appreciated reading about design and disability because those pieces really opened my mind and increased my awareness. I am grateful that I can turn to Design Sponge for not only visual delight but also deeper dialogue. I now follow many of the guest writers on social media so I can continue to learn more. The think pieces are my favorite feature on Design Sponge, and I learn from and enjoy every single one.

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