DMTV Milkshake: Germane Barnes on Cultivating Hope When It’s Hard To Do

This week’s DMTV Milkshake guest is architect and educator Germane Barnes, principal of Studio Barnes LLC.

“‘Hope’ is a tough word,” says Barnes, when asked what he hopes 2021 will bring to the design world. An assistant professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture, the Chicago-born architect has a big year on tap: In February, his work will appear in MoMA’s first-ever all-Black exhibition, Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America. Still, he’s trepidatious, and concerned that 2020’s gestures to greater inclusivity will reveal themselves as a passing trend, rather than a sea change. “You can feel let down when you hope for things. But if we don’t hope for things, I don’t know how we’re supposed to continue to do the work. My hope is that 2020 isn’t just a blip on the radar.”

Also in this episode of Milkshake, Barnes shares what he learned while interning in Cape Town that he could have only learned in the South African city: “Undergrad taught me that I was a tool: Go design a YMCA. Go design a car wash. Go design a library. I didn’t know my agency. Cape Town taught me my agency — and that I can be a force for change,” Barnes says. “It also taught me about the diversity of blackness. I wasn’t seen as a Black person — I was seen as an American.” Finally, Barnes shares his perspective on a question that’s dominating conversations within the design world: Is it doing enough to nurture the talent of Black architects — and how can the field grow when their contributions are given the attention and support they deserve?

View Germane’s DMTV Milkshake episode above, then check out the rest of the series here.

Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.

Milkshake, DMTV (Design Milk TV)’s first regular series, shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators and industry professionals to select interview questions at random from their favorite bowl or vessel. During their candid discussions, you’ll not only gain a peek into their personal homeware collections, but also valuable insights into their work, life and passions.

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