WHAT IS GRAPHIC DESIGN MADE OF? is a symposium that will be hosted in the Yale School of Art's E.I.K. building on Saturday, March 12. It seeks to investigate graphic design’s material ecology, infrastructure, pedagogy and potential to address environmental crises through an installation centered by a grounded meditation alongside a series of guest presentations, all of which will feed into a diagramming workshop.



Students from the Yale School of Art, School of the Environment, and elsewhere are invited to join, with a maximum capacity of 50 including guest presenters and organizers.


Larissa and Michelle met in 2013 while studying landscape architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, founding Nocturnal Medicine as a practice of design, education and climate resilience consultancy. They see their work as a continuation of ancient practices for connecting with one another, the planet, and all those we share it with.

Tim is an artist, writer and educator who’s taught in New York University’s studio art program and at Pratt in the architecture, fine arts, humanities and media studies departments. His work often explores ideas related to how he thinks about teaching and how he sees teaching as reflective of other social relationships and relationships to the environment.

Shonagh is a curator and writer, serving on the faculty at the School of Visual Arts. Through an ongoing series of interviews, as Denier, she’s been researching corporate responsibility by investigating fashion’s relationship to people, the planet and profit.

Julian is an artist, photographer, sustainability consultant and material futures researcher who graduated from Central Saint Martins as the pandemic began. His work is concerned with examining and dissolving limitations placed upon ourselves and others which preclude human connection.

Michelle founded her brand design studio, Practice, to form partnerships with brands while staying close to her work as a maker. She founded Waste Not as an open resource for individuals and organizations to source more sustainably, in order to make impacts at the scale of business.

Hugh co-founded Sanctuary Computer as a small and flexible design-oriented software development studio. In 2020 he helped found Seaborne, a sustainability consultancy, and published Studio Carbon Negative, a report on their business’s environmental impacts and commitments.


E.I.K. gallery, located at 32 Edgewood Avenue, is a 2,580 square foot satellite exhibition and event space on the Yale School of Art campus, situated across from the Sculpture building at 36 Edgewood Avenue.

This site and New Haven sit within the Connecticut River Basin, part of the sedimentary central valley formed by ancient volcanic surface flows, which built up the nearby trap rock ridges of East and West Rock parks and punctuate the local landscape.

We are situated in a place that has been safeguarded, traveled, made home, cherished, trespassed. This symposium will gather on land stewarded by generations of the Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot, Eastern Pequot, Schaghticoke, Golden Hill Paugussett, Niantic, Quinnipiac and Algonquian speaking people, whose ongoing work we consider as we engage in this event.

Yale University was founded upon exclusions and erasures, displacement, disenfranchisement and exploitation. As we examine the ecologies of ideologies, teachings and practices as a part of this institution, we recognize our own role in ongoing infrastructures of extraction and how we benefit from this violence. We recognize the past and present struggles of those most disregarded or outright targeted by these systems and seek to improve the material conditions, behavior and relationships between ourselves and others within the inequitable systems under which we all live. We recognize, honor and respect the Indigenous peoples and nations, and all of those who came before us, as we explore the enduring relationships and entanglements inherent amongst people, ecosystems and infrastructures.




An introduction by Miguel Gaydosh and the School of Art’s Dean, Kymberly Pinder, will outline the impetus, vision and plans for the symposium, along with the practice of visual note-taking. Then a meditation session will be led by Nocturnal Medicine, centered around their trap rock installation, to ground and frame the proceedings.


Guest speakers will be introduced briefly and then share their work relating to the symposium’s themes and goals, drawing and writing key notes, diagrams and processes on a sheet of paper mounted along the wall.


The core diagramming workshop will be introduced, and participants will be prompted to spend time drawing out their visual responses to the guest’s base diagrams as a means of researching: highlighting relationships and expanding upon details by adding new connections, drawings, notes, prints and more.



The core diagramming exercise will continue.


A discussion will be held to review and reflect on the workshop activities, drawing any further relationships between the stories, conflicts and opportunities revealed in order to gather lessons and potential paths forward for participants and the public.


Drawings will be documented and participants will be asked for consent to collect their notes and feedback, followed by an invitation to gather for drinks to end the day.


Organizers will hold open hours for the ‘exhibition’ of materials generated through the symposium alongside Nocturnal Medicine's installation.


“How we draw/think/make/see is profoundly tied to what we draw/think/make and see: can we draw differently? Can we teach ourselves to see differently?”

WHAT IS GRAPHIC DESIGN MADE OF? is an initiative that seeks to understand graphic design’s role in environmental crises and potentials by critically examining the discipline’s material ecology, pedagogy and related practices. Through dialogue and diagramming, this symposium will investigate the inextricable ties between the industry of graphic design and our global ecosystems—infrastructures built upon flawed myths and economic systems.

Graphic design is a collaborative discipline facilitating the translation of information through visual systems, interfaces and products. It concerns itself not only with communicating ideas but the ideas’ very shape and the vessels through which they’re delivered. However, like many others, this field overwhelmingly supports assumptions of endless consumption—anthropocentric agendas which have proven untenable within the bounds of our planet’s ecology.

“[We] are in a process of thinking […] becoming sensitive to the varying intensities of spiders, temperatures, rat songs, lectures, pheromones, texts, and time together. This dynamic embodied experience puts us under the influence of human and inhuman forces, and of fictions that may, over time, seep into reality and de-script what we thought we knew.”

This symposium is an initial step as part of an ongoing project by a student seeking to embed critical socioecological design ideologies, approaches and relationships in the pedagogy at Yale, so that others may find support advocating for environmental issues in the institution and their own work. One of this project’s central goals is to encourage healthy interdisciplinary dialogue and debate, challenging the status quo of our fields’ related pedagogies and practices to be more inter- and, even, post-disciplinary while generating visual as well as written outputs.

The fostering of these types of initiatives through the curricula and ongoing dialogue between our schools—and beyond—would be the ideal outcome, moving toward the development of programs such as the Yale School of Architecture-Environment Joint Degree, On Visual Sustainability at Konstfack University, Geo—Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Nature Research at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, and spaces such as the Nature Lab at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Organized and designed by Miguel Gaydosh, with support from the Yale School of Art and School of the Environment. Thanks to Ayham Ghraowi, Claire Hungerford, Han Gao, Jessica Flemming, Lester Rosso, M.C. Madrigal, Mike Tully, Osvald Landmark and Sam Callahan for your collaboration, strategic planning and design support. Thanks to Jeemin Shim for all of the above, editing and sketching over Zoom, and being my second set of eyes. Thanks to Pancho Blood for programming this website. Thanks to Asha Ghosh, Beatrice Galilee, Calvin Rocchio and Lexi Visco of Companion—Platform, Elisa Iturbe, Giulia Bellinetti, Julian DuFour, Julian Macrone, Keller Easterling, Kristin Barendregt-Ludwig, Manuel Miranda, Nicole Bouchard, Nivanthi Karunaratne, Sara De Bondt, Susan Sellers and Yujin Kim for your guidance and encouragement to pursue this project. Thanks to A.L. Steiner, Alex Adams, Angela Chen, Karen Seto and Kymberly Pinder for your administrative support. Thanks to all guest speakers and participants for your insight, energy and engagement.