Office Hours is a participatory project operating at the intersection of art, architecture, and social change that examines design as a social practice. Started by Esther Choi in July 2020, the initiative features design creatives who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPoC) in free, group mentorship sessions with BIPoC students and emerging practitioners. Highlighting notable BIPoC creative professionals, this online classroom-meets-chatroom facilitates intergenerational dialogues with the desire to address the long-standing problem of BIPoC underrepresentation in the design professions.
Office Hours' bimonthly 75-minute sessions are advertised on Instagram at @officehours.design; the first 200 BIPoC students and emerging practitioners that register receive a link to the free Zoom event held later that week. Since its founding, the series has been attended by over 2000 emerging BIPoC designers from over thirteen countries including the United States, Canada, Jordan, Malaysia, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, India, Australia, South Africa, and Hong Kong.
Through its seasonal programming, Office Hours aspires to render a range of cutting-edge BIPoC creatives in the fields of architecture and design visible to younger audiences, while providing free information and professional advice that address the barriers to entry and success for design creatives of color.
As an experimental space of sociability, its format promotes knowledge sharing, listening and dialogue, lived experience, and multi-racial and inter-ethnic solidarity as crucial tools for social transformation. Embracing intersectionality, Office Hours encourages speakers and attendees to engage in intimate discussions about the ways in which their overlapping social identities have shaped their personal journeys and insights.
All attendees are asked to arrive to each session with their cameras on and accountable to the group dynamic.
Season 1 speakers included Alyse Archer-Coité, Sunil Bald, Germane Barnes, Shumi Bose, Sean Canty, Tei Carpenter, Esther Choi, Eric Hu, Mark Gardner, Asad Syrkett, Jonathan Jackson, Justin Garrett Moore, Quilian Riano, Jacqueline Shaw, Lexi Tsien-Shiang, Lee Mun Wah, and Dong-Ping Wong. Season 2 began in February 2021, and has featured Sumayya Vally, Tammy Eagle Bull, Dori Tunstall, Benjamin Kaplan, LinYee Yuan, Zeina Koreitem, Eddie Opara, and Alex Lin, among others.
To learn more, visit www.Office-Hours.design.
Mateo Sancho Cardiel, "Racismo y fluidez de género en el mundo del diseño y arquitectura," El Pais, May 2021
Jack Balderamma Morley, "Second Season of Esther Choi's Office Hours Promises More Opportunities for Young Bipoc Designers." Arch Daily. Web.
Jack Balderamma Morley, "The second season of Office Hours promises more opportunities for young BIPOC designers." The Architect's Newspaper. (March 4, 2021). Print and web.
Mimi Zeiger, "It's Time to Abolish the Architecture Critic," Dezeen, (March 1, 2021).
Architizer Editors, “Office Hours is shifting the landscape for BIPOC creatives,” Architizer. (Oct. 23, 2020).
Charu Suri, "A Grassroots Mentorship Program Aims to Break Down Industry Barriers," Architectural Digest Pro (Oct.19, 2020)