Alicia Cheng is a founding partner of the New York design studio MGMT and the author of the book This Is What Democracy Looked Like: A Visual History of the Printed Ballot. She previously worked as a designer for Method, was a co-design director at the Cooper Hewitt, and is currently an external critic for the MFA program at RISD. In this episode, Jarrett and Alicia talk about how the design of ballots can teach us about the United States’s uneasy relationship with voting, mixing design history with American history, and how research feeds her design practice.
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Charles Saumarez Smith is the author of The Art Museum in Modern Times, an architectural history of art museums. He previously was the Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts in London and before this served as director of both the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery. In this conversation, Jarrett and Charles talk about the relationship between architecture and museums, the role of the museum director, and administration as a form of research.
In this special episode celebrating both Scratching the Surface’s fifth anniversary and our 200th episode, Jarrett turns the tables on himself to answer questions submitted by listeners like who would he like to bring back from the dead to interview? How’s the show changed in five years? What’s the role of design school? What did he want to be in middle school? What non-design books influenced his thinking?
Esther Choi is a multidisciplinary artist and architectural historian. In 2019, she published Le Corbuffet, a Fluxus-inspired artist's book that adopts the form of a cookbook and in 2020, she started Office Hours, a socially-engaged initiative that cultivates the sharing of knowledge among practitioners who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. In this episode, Esther and Jarrett talk about working between photography and architectural theory, genres of writing, and building a body of work that’s hard to define.