'NOW YOU KNOW' is the first publication from Sound Advice, a platform exploring spatial practices through music, which tackles the inequality and discrimination within the built environment industry. The book collates 60 pieces from architects and urbanists of colour ranging from poetry to essays, each coupled with a tip and a tune from the contributor. The book calls for action through the use of the personal experiences of people of colour, the greater historical context of structural racism as well as ideas of what should be done to implement positive change within the industry.
The idea for the book was born out of the Covid-19 pandemic; more specifically the build up of publicity around the Black Lives Matter movement, with it's social media solidarity and the inevitable inaction of their white counterparts after #BlackoutTuesday. In response Sound Advice founders Joseph Henry and Pooja Agrawal decided to reach out to friends and colleagues to ask what advice they would give these people to make the industry change for the better. The publication captures the raw responses of people of colour within the industry and aims to show how much work is really needed to make the built environment more diverse. This book should definitely be included in the recommended reading for everyone working in architecture and design because, and let's be real here, one black square on your Instagram hasn't changed anything.
"Read this, and you will know what you need to know to make the world a more equitable place."
There are fictional interactions presented in the form of scripts, letters to younger selves, poetry, heartfelt accounts and much more intended to educate the reader on the experience of a person of colour within this industry. This huge variety of content reflects the broad range of participants, everyone from MBEs to architecture students have taken part, which just goes to show how the issues highlighted within 'NOW YOU KNOW' are rife at every level of the built environment industry. The contributors hope that those reading it will be encouraged to take action and make changes so that the burden of changing the profession isn't left solely to people of colour.
"But also, a lot of people of colour are tired of talking about how to make change and feel exploited and pressured to share their personal stories and experiences," Joseph Henry
Although the content itself should be enough to get this book into your personal or practice library it really doesn't hurt that it's incredibly well designed by Joel Antoine-Wilkinson. He uses bold colours and striking fonts to draw attention to the punchy statements and break up the longer written pieces. The constant change in the decorative fonts really make for a visual feast and almost reflects the personality of the writer, adding visuals in the absence of image. He sticks to a limited but vibrant palette of blue, red, pink, green and yellow using them on full page gloss spreads to juxtapose the black and white text. These rhythmic intervals really add life to the publication and keeps the flow of text exciting.
All photography by Timi Akindele-Ajani
This months book club has been written by Amber, our design and communications lead. Amber is a 2020 Communication Design graduate from the Glasgow School of Art and founder of Bloom & Body, a small ceramics business focusing on the human form. You can read more about her here.