Welcome to SCRATCH, a new design publishing platform from Scratching the Surface.
My hope is the SCRATCH will be a forum for expansive, thoughtful, and engaging ideas about and around design. I want to expand the conversation I have on Scratching the Surface and open them up to even more people. This will be a place for essays, conversations, fiction, and other ideas from across the design landscape.
Why a new design publication? A claim I’ve heard from countless guests on Scratching the Surface over the years — and one I’ve uttered myself — is that there isn’t enough design writing. I no longer buy this. (I wrote a counter-argument for Eye on Design back in 2020.) It’s 2023 and there are more people talking about design than ever before: from social media to major publications. People around the world are engaging in design discourse, thinking about the interfaces on their phones to the structure of their cities. The general public has a stronger sense of visual thinking and design language now, more than ever.
What’s needed, I believe, is two things. The first is a place to talk about these things at a deeper level, beyond hot takes and takedowns. There is a robust academic discourse in many design fields and range of publications, social media accounts, and general-interest publications that write about design for general audiences. What is harder to find is a place for designers to think about their work at length; a forum for a range of writing from academic texts to interviews to speculative fiction to first drafts that explore what it means to be a designer today in a smart, thoughtful, and inviting way.
The second is an interdiscplinary publication that engages with all forms of design. I’m a graphic designer but you might have noticed I’ve only referred to design generally in this piece. There are great publications that cover specifically graphic design, or architecture, or urban planning, or fashion. There are not many that cover all of them with equal rigor. Not trendspotting or portfolio roundups or industry news, but thinking outloud, together, in hopes that we can draw connections between the fields. Design, of course, has always been mulitdisciplinary.
This, I hope, is what SCRATCH can be. I want SCRATCH to compliment Scratching the Surface, to embody the ideas I’ve talked with folks about over the last six years. But I also want it to go beyond what I can do on the podcast. This can be a place to engage with a broad set of ideas from a broad range of people.We’re starting small, with no definite publishing schedule.
We’ll publish stories when we want (and can), from people engaging in interesting work and thinking. We have some stories already lined up — nearly all will be freely available though some will be reserved for Patreon supporters — and are actively taking new pitches. Do you have an essay — a story, an unfinished draft, a work of speculation, someone you want to interview — but no place to publish it. Get in touch; we’d love to talk.
If this sounds interesting to you, I hope you check back often for updates. And if you want to help support my work — on Scratching the Surface and now SCRATCH, consider joining us on Patreon. I’m looking forward to the new era of design discourse. Thank you, as always, for reading.