Dear Designer

Dear Designer: Why We (Must) Keep Loving Design

You’re the only thing standing in the way of design being used for evil

Mike Monteiro
Modus
Published in
7 min readSep 19, 2019

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Illustration: Eugenia Mello

Dear Mike,

Why do I love designing when I know all it does is destroy this world? A part of me wants to know the answer to this question but a part of me doesn’t want to know, only because I know I’ll feel horrible after that.

Dear Designer,

I see you. I really do. Shit is exhausting. Some days are about fighting. Some days are about just getting out of bed. Some days are about staying there. And some days you end up doing that math wrong, getting out of bed, and a couple of hours later realizing that you shouldn’t have. I don’t mind telling you that I’m having one of those days right now. We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of each other. But make no mistake, ultimately we need to take care of each other, too.

Let’s talk about why we do this and let me be honest here: I’m doing this as much to answer your question as to remind myself. Because there are days when we need a reminder of why we do this. Today is one of those days.

Let’s talk about design and why we love it because that’s a good place to start. And it starts with a story about what life was like before cell phones, apps, GPS, constant connectivity, and all that other stuff we spend our days working on. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a network. We did. It was made of two factors: people and streetlights.

I grew up in the middle of Philadelphia in Logan, Olney, and Germantown, for those who are familiar with the area. We moved around a lot. But one thing all those neighborhoods had in common was that most of the houses had stoops and porches. It was a time when people sat outside, drinking an iced tea or a beer, and watched over the neighborhood. We watched over each other.

When we played outside, we were usually under the watchful eye of one or more of those stoop-sitting neighbors. Yes, they tended to be older ladies and we addressed them as Mrs. so-and-so, or Señora so-and-so. And they referred to some of us by name. But more likely we were “Judy’s Boy,” or “Maria’s Boy.” The stoop community did not require…

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Mike Monteiro
Modus
Writer for

English is my second language. You were my first.