The Design Vanguard is a community of the foremost creative leaders from the business, tech, and social sectors, leveraging our resources and influence in service of creating a more just, safe, and beautiful world.

Together, we extend the reach and impact of design by:


Holding veteran and emerging designers to higher ethical standards.


Shaping a generation of designers that reflects the rich diversity of the world we live in.


Pushing the edges of what it means to design for humanity—thinking about individuals, communities, and systems alike—in this new era of COVID-19.

In this new COVID-19 era, design has never been more desperately needed, nor better positioned. Design leaders hold influential roles in the public, private, and social sectors. We’re tackling daunting and complex challenges with empathy, optimism, and bold ingenuity.

We didn’t start the vanguard.

Icons like Florence Knoll, George Nelson, Paul Rand, and Dieter Rams established design as a critical tool in the realm of business, while the likes of Victor Papanek, Christopher Alexander, and our ultimate heroes Charles & Ray Eames questioned how design might have the power to improve communities and entire systems.

The vanguard doesn’t end with us.

The vanguard has always been here, in community organizations and individuals who fight for equity and justice on the frontlines. We are committed to understanding our place in the systems we reside in—how our work affects the causes of the vanguards around us—and defying convention to uplift these actors of social change.

The COVID-19 Design Directory is made possible by a major grant from the Kelson Foundation. Special thanks to Sid Lee for its design work; kyu for its support; Kristin Riger of for her oversight; Jessie Canon for developing the site; Emily Pidgeon, Lily Platt, and Nadia Walker for their editorial work; Taylor Nelson and the Solutions Journalism Network for its Story Tracker example; and friends like Caroline Baumann as well as Paola Antonelli and Alice Rawsthorn of Design Emergency for their visionary leadership.

Our initial vision for The Design Vanguard was realized thanks to the generosity of the following donors:

Crystal English Sacca
Erik Moga
Jerry Knight
Joe Gebbia
Johnnie Manzari
Kathleen & Dan Bomze

Kelson Foundation
MASS Design Group
Michael Levinthal
Phil Gilbert
Scott Belsky
The Reis Foundation
Tim Brown
Trae & Steve Vassallo

For press and partnership inquiries as well as to help underwrite the COVID-19 Design Directory, please email