Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemics

Exhibition Design

Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemics asks the question: What is design’s role in times of crisis? This exhibition presents architectural case studies and historical narratives alongside creative design responses to COVID-19, featuring the work of designers, artists, doctors, engineers, and neighbors who asked, “How can I help?” In response to crisis, they created medical devices, PPE, mutual aid, infographics, posters, and architecture. Their creative actions have included open-source collaboration, rapid-response prototyping, hacking, and activism.

Span worked with MASS Design Group and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum to design the exhibition graphics. The design and ideas of the book The Architecture of Health: Hospital Design and the Construction of Dignity were adapted into a physical experience. To ensure maximum accessibility, the exhibition design meets all ADA requirements for type size, position, and contrast. Span also designed digital invitations for the exhibit preview.

The pandemic revealed what some have known for a long time: breathing is spatial. Design and Healing reveals these implications at the scale of the body, building, city, and planet.


Bud Rodecker: Design Direction, Design

Alyssa Arnesen: Design

Rick Valicenti: Design Direction

MASS Design Group (Regina Chen, Jeffrey Mansfield, Michael Murphy, Morgan O’Hara, Maggie Stern) and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (Ellen Lupton, senior curator of contemporary design, and Julie Pastor, curatorial assistant): Curatorial Team

MASS Design Group (Annie Wang): Exhibition Design

Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution: Photography

Designed while at Span


Society of Typographic Arts: STA 100—2022

Selected Press

A Timely Cooper Hewitt Museum Exhibit Prompts Designers To Overcome The Disinformation Of Anti-VaxxersForbes, December 24, 2021

Can Architecture and Design Facilitate Healing?Metropolis, December 21, 2021

Epidemics: A Force for Life-Changing InnovationThe New York Times, December 21, 2021

How to survive a pandemic? Courage, resiliency and resistance to bad ideas.The Washington Post, December 16, 2021

Designing for a PandemicThe Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2021