Steven Heller Interviews David Sterling and Mark Randall
Article by: ​Steven Heller and Shawn Wolfe
Pages 54 - 59


Table of Contents

Editor Steven Heller interviews David Sterling and Mark Randall, the president/founder and vice-president of Worldstudio Foundation, respectively. Sterling and Randall discuss the work they did before coming together, their reasons for creating the foundation, their perceived contributions to the design community and the goals they hold for the Worldstudio Foundation and for the design community at large moving forward.

In the article, the interviewees briefly discuss their work as designers prior to the formation of the Worldstudio Foundation and their dissatisfaction with the status of the design industry as they saw it. They formed the foundation to fulfill a shared desire to find a way to use graphic design as a means of giving back to the community, to “reach beyond the bottom-line needs of clients [and]…feel a true sense of ownership.”[1]

To facilitate this goal and foster diversity in the design community, the Worldstudio Foundation began offering scholarships to underprivileged and minority seniors and graduates studying artistic fields, and they have since distributed “over $500,000 to students across the country in art, architecture, and design.”[2]

external image Torres_8x.jpgSterling and Randall go on to discuss the challenges of dealing with the notion that “design exists to serve commerce”[3] while running a non-profit organization with design as its core means of achieving its ends). They speak of the slow pace at which design changes the world while also intimating that this is the case largely because of the focus on form over function in the design industry; “ugly,” but functional designs that readily and rapidly bring change to the world are often overlooked. As they see it, creations like Henry Ford’s Model T, Guttenberg’s printing press, and David Irvine-Halliday’s safe white lights would be “designed.”[4]

The interview then shifts to a discussion about Sphere magazine, a publication created by the Worldstudio Foundation to “establish [them]selves within the creative community [and] highlight the social and environmental work of artists, architects, and designers from around the world...”[5] The interview ends with a brief conversation about what it is like to design in a post-9/11 world and what designersprofessional and amateur alikehave done to capture the complex emotions and changes that the U.S. has experienced as a whole following that tragedy.


The immediate relevance of this interview lies in the interviewees’ discussion of the steps they have taken in their efforts to alter the state of affairs in the design industry, a discussion that is not unlike Marilyn Cooper’s statements about what qualifies as merit-worthy writing in her article “The Ecology of Writing.” In both cases, entrenched principles—that reputable writing must be formatted a specific way and is found only in peer-reviewed journals, that design exists only as a tool to bolster the marketability of various items and services—are being challenged by the actions and behaviors of the larger groups of people who have become skilled in the techniques these disciplines employ (though not without some assistance from more open-minded members of the writing and design communities).

The interview goes further in that it suggests a more active solution to the stagnation of the practice of writing than that offered by Cooper: to revolutionize the field, arm those with the vision and freedom to do so with the resources necessary for them to assume the positions of those who would have it remain as it is. The high availability of blog software and the various open-source projects on the Web are steps in the right direction, but some among those who would use such technologies must reach the forefront of the writing community if the way that such forums are perceived is to change.


  • Heller, Steven (2003). "Not for Profit", Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne, Citizen Designer.

  1. ^ Heller 2003, p. 54
  2. ^ Heller 2003, p. 55
  3. ^ Heller 2003, p. 55
  4. ^ Heller 2003, p. 56 - 57
  5. ^ Heller 2003, p. 57