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10 of Our Favorite Design Matters Episodes of 2020



The Design Matters studio is small. It’s intimate. Within the recording booth at the School of Visual Arts’ Masters in Branding program, guests sit nearly knee-to-knee with host Debbie Millman, opening up about their creative journeys in all of their profound personal detail.

In addition to a pre-pandemic Design Matters anniversary bash featuring Amber Tamblyn, Roxane Gay flipping the interview script on Millman, and more, the year was filled with a medley of guests hailing from a medley of backgrounds in the creative arts—graphic designers; authors; fine artists; publishers; filmmakers; set designers; playwrights; the one-and-only Claire Danes.

While a couple of the interviews were recorded in the studio prior to lockdown, this writer wondered whether any of the usual Design Matters magic would fall to the wayside as interviews necessarily switched from that most personal of studios to Zoom—but we’re happy to report that it appears the alchemy of said magic is not confined to any one fixed location.

Still, we can’t wait to see everything, with hope, back to normal, and back to the studio, in 2021.

Here’s to the Design Matters of 2020, with 10 of our favorite episodes.


Bisa Butler

Fiber artist Bisa Butler discusses the AfriCOBRA tradition, the artistic breakthrough that led to her finding her voice, and the process behind her amazing life-size works

Chanel Miller

Author Chanel Miller reflects on her journey to healing—and the role of art in her past, present, and future.

Chani Nicholas

A self-described “late bloomer,” Chani Nicholas pursued different career paths before finding her future in both the least and most likely of places: the stars.

Marilyn Minter

Sex, power, feminism—Marilyn Minter reflects on her rise, being banished from the art world, and her return and personal revolution.


Ira Glass

From creativity to creative struggles and what makes or breaks a This American Life story, Ira Glass reflects on his career on the airwaves.

Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed battled through remarkable adversity—and the most intense of hikes—to emerge as one of the best American writers working today.

Michael R. Jackson

In his work, the Pulitzer Prize–winning Michael R. Jackson—a self-described “playwright, composer, lyricist and trash talker”—riffs on race, identity and sexuality. Here, he discusses life on and off the page.

Wael Morcos & Jonathan Key

Hailing from Lebanon and Alabama, respectively, Wael Morcos and Jonathan Key discuss their amazing journeys that coalesced into their design work as MorcosKey today.

Claire Danes

At 10, she announced that money or no money, she would be true to her art—and there was no plan B. And, well, actress Claire Danes stuck to it.

Tosh Hall

From breaking down outside of a Kinko’s to being named one of AdAge’s Top 50 creatives, Tosh Hall talks about the highs and lows of a life in branding and design.

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