Deem Journal’s Alice Grandoit-Šutka on Rituals of Listening


Co-founder and editor-in-chief of Deem Journal, Alice Grandoit-Šutka says, as a child of Haitian immigrants, her essential function was to listen. Now this practice, a ritual that keeps her grounded in the possibilities of better futures, informs all of her work. A cultural researcher, designer, publisher, and host – Alice’s work exists at the intersection of arts, community engagement, and food.

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Alice Grandiut-Šutka : I also feel like I’ve really only existed in community with other people. I’m never really creating any work that is alone. It’s usually basically referencing people that have come before me and also referencing people that are in my orbit.

Amy Devers: Today I’m talking to Alice Grandoit-Šutka. Alice is a research-based designer, host, and publisher. She is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Deem Journal, a bi-annual print magazine that centers design as a social practice. If you’ve been listening to Clever for awhile, you know I am a huge fan of Deem – and you can listen to my interviews with the other co-founders, Marquise Stillwell on ep 121 and Nu Goteh on ep 170). Alice, also together with Nu Goteh, started the design studio Room for Magic – where a lot of the work focuses on cultural research and strategy, She also works in hospitality and food design via Earthseed Provisions. And currently she and her partner own and operate a non-restaurant in Copenhagen called Tombo. It’s also worth noting that music and japanese culture have been major influences in her approach. Alice has covered a lot of ground on her creative path so far, and is deliberate about not limiting herself to specific categories or disciplines – she describes her Work over the past 15 years as experimental, referential, and relational, existing at the intersection of arts, community engagement, and food. And she’s about to take us on a magical tour that winds through all of this… here’s Alice.

Alice Grandiut-Šutka: My name is Alice Grandoit-Šutka and I’m a Cultural Researcher, designer, publisher and host and I’m originally from New York, now living between many different cities. And I do the many things that I do because I inherently love to listen. And through these rituals of listening I kind of find myself becoming grounded in possibilities that really kind of inform both better presence and also better futures. 

Amy: That is possibly the best explanation I’ve ever heard of why you do what you do. I’m not kidding! And I love that it’s all grounded in the ritual of listening because as my work on this show and story stewardship has progressed, I also feel really connected to and empowered by the act of listening. And so I really want to hear what you have to say about that. And so let’s start perhaps at the very beginning, your formative years. Did you learn to listen in your formative years? Or why don’t we sort of zoom out and pain the picture of your childhood for me?

Alice: I was born in New York City and then lived in a part of town called Cambria Heights, Queens, in my formative years, along with a pretty massive family. I was born to actually Haitian immigrants who moved to New York in the 60s and 70s and I spent a lot of time with my family, thankfully, in Haitian culture kids are essentially taught that their essential function as a child is to listen. I think maybe that is a way of anchoring into that practice. (Laughs) It’s kind of funny, I haven’t connected those together, but I’m pretty positive my mom wouldn’t disagree. My formative years and my youth, honestly, were pretty chilled and I’m very thankful about them. It really included a lot of time with my family, my grandparents, aunts, my uncles, I have a huge squad of cousins and I also had a chance to spend a lot of solo time with my mom as a kid. It’s interesting because we will get into the makings of a publication that I work on. But I had a moment in the making of our second issue where I had a chance to go back and reflect on my childhood. I had realized quite early on that I actually went to a Montessori school when I was younger, but super young, maybe in my first round at kindergarten. 

And I really loved that experience so much because it was this very unstructured space. But there were these many different forms of… it’s such an early memory that I can’t… it’s something I can’t necessarily recall, but I can feel. And I’ve been able to connect later on in my life around maybe how it’s formed me as a thinker and be’er and listener. But I also remember it being very clear when I changed schools, it was hard for me to kind of acclimate essentially to more of a rigid, structured way of existing in the world. 

And then I basically also have a birthday that’s pretty late in December and sometimes especially when you’re super young, if you don’t meet a cut-off date, they make you repeat a class again. I guess in essence I did kindergarten twice. And so the first time was at Montessori and then the second time was at, I was at a Catholic school, which is actually most of the schools I went to most of my life. I remember in that class, in the second go round at kindergarten, which was a lot more structured and rigid, my teacher asked me… she was kind of doing these end of the year interviews. And she’d asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. She was kind of doing these one-on-ones, they were all tape-recorded with the microphone and the idea was to get you on record saying what you wanted to be when you grow up when you’re age six essentially. And I told my teacher that I wanted to be a star (laughs). And she was completely puzzled, but then was also trying to kind of maybe clarity what I meant.  

And she was like, oh, do you want to be like a celebrity, a musician? She was really looking for something for her to grasp onto. I just remember saying very frankly to her, “No, I want to be a star, like a star in the sky.” It’s really been a very interesting, I think, memory to reflect on because it’s kind of come back to me in the past 10 years where I just think about that a lot as like maybe me never placing myself on planet earth, back to my former intro. Maybe there’s always a part of me that feels like I’ve existed within the cosmos since I was six and I feel like that is maybe a way of thinking about my youthful imagination at that time. 

Amy: Oh I love that, I just got goosebumps. I feel like the minute you said I want to be a star, before you explained, that’s where I went. I was like, oh, she wants to be a carbon based twinkle in the sky. (Laughter) And I also think from a designer’s perspective, what a fascinating experiment to do kindergarten twice with two very different pedagogical frameworks. I mean unfortunately you were kindergarten age, so you couldn’t really process all of the differences, you had to adjust to them. But looking back on it, I’m sure it’s provided a kind of interesting control for different ways of being? 

Alice: I think also being a child of immigrants, I was constantly in the act of translation. So having to listen in just different ways. So my family speaks three different languages, they speak English, they speak Haitian/Creole, they speak French. And I’m trying to navigate a whole new experience that they haven’t had as a first generation child living in America essentially.

I guess both that experience but also then the idea… I feel like that has informed how I’ve also had to navigate multiple spaces in my life. And I do think that maybe the tool for navigating has always been, like okay, I need to listen a little bit deeply, listen to all the different things that maybe I can’t perceive with my eyes or even perceive with my ears. Maybe it’s a felt thing. I feel like that’s kind of been where I can ID a little bit of how I’ve started to cultivate that practice. 

Amy: Yes, but listening and then translating, that would make a lot of sense for why you can sort of move so fluidly between, I think both practices and spots on the globe. How did this evolve in your adolescence?

Alice: In my adolescence I actually attended an all-girls high school and I always like to talk about this, because I also think it was another formative time in my life. I wasn’t really fond of this idea (laughter) when my mom had proposed it to me at 13/14. And in hindsight I’m actually so happy for the decision that she made to send me there. I feel like it allowed me actually then to listen to and experience myself and my intellectual interests. And also cultivated a point of view, independent of the male gaze, which when you’re an adolescent, can really become quite prominent. I also feel like there was a general type of confidence that I left high school with, which again, reflecting on it recently, I’m just like wow, if I could access my 18 year old self, the type of confidence that I left that space with, was unprecedented, just because that was an experience that I had for four years, just being super comfortable in my space, with who I am. Again, the gaze happens in many different ways. It’s also just like there wasn’t also, I think the patriarchy taking up a lot of space in the day-to-day. It was a little bit more spacious. When I think about listening, I think it allowed me to really understand how to listen at a time. 

Amy: As you’ve emerged from that school, or in your adulthood, have you had conversations with, and compared and contrasted the experience of somebody who went to, let’s say a public school or a co-educational environment where they were subject to the patriarchy and the male gaze in a more pronounced way?

Alice: I think it was very clear. I’m still good friends with a friend of mine from high school, Olivia, who I love dearly. We talk about it a lot because I think when we all went to college it was very clear, it was just very clear the way that different people learned to articulate themselves. And also maybe the limitations that they maybe felt in a classroom setting. I also have always went to kind of small schools with small class sizes. So I think I’ve always tried to feel somewhat comfortable in those spaces. 

But I think there was just a certain type of confidence that you have a certain way of articulating yourself in the things that you cared about, at least, at that age, that I found to be very interesting when I would go onto college and see that people were maybe a little bit more hesitant to state a position on something or hesitant to even really know how they felt about something. Maybe it was a space where I was able to cultivate like a communication and a vocabulary around feelings. I think I felt it when I left. I think also because I went to liberal arts colleges, there’s also not a whole lot of guys there (laughter), so I’m not sure if it’s the best kind of litmus test. But I did sense a bit of a difference, and also just even the types of conversations that we would have, or even just the way that people would express themselves with clothing. Just small, like small little things. I always laugh because I wore a uniform most of my life. I always laugh now that in my adult life I wish I wore a uniform because (laughs) I literally spend about, yeah, like 15 years of my life wearing uniforms most of the time. 

And then also learning to accentuate with different types of accessories, which is quite interesting to think about that piece as well. I think also while I was in high school I also had a lot of, I think creative interests, and a little bit of where that took me, I guess a lot of my points of creativity were centered around dance and movement and also music. I was part of a dance team that was also a competition team in high school. I really loved music and I absolutely loved magazines and books about music and culture. 

I remember this vividly. There was a book that had just come out that I only found out about because I was reading a magazine and it was talking about new books and it was a hip-hop anthology. It was a massive textbook essentially called, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, written by Jeff Chang. And it came out, I think, in my junior year of high school and I had, again, discovered it from this magazine and I was just so obsessed with reading this massive document that I think was presented in the way that I was learning information, which was in these massive textbooks essentially. 

I’ll never forget taking them to school with me and pretty much placing it in the middle of my textbook to make it seem like I was reading the textbook but I was actually reading the book. But there was just something also fundamental about that experience that I think really allowed me to understand the power of narrative. It was very much inherently about hip-hop culture, its beginning. It’s an archive, it’s a document of evidence of how the culture started and where it had evolved to at that point. 

I feel like I hadn’t really read anything or engaged with material around a culture that I felt like I was a part of at least, in some way, shape or form. And it was just a super transformative time for me. And I feel like I also took that, or really held that with me in my adolescence as well. 

Amy: Yeah, because when it’s presented to you in a massive textbook, and it’s organized in a way that includes historical research and a scholarly perspective and validates its importance and its creative legitimacy, it’s accessible in a new way. 

Alice: Indeed. I went to a lot of schools where the history was just actually sometimes really boring to me because I just always felt like there was so much more… there were things that were missing that were… I felt like there were things that were missing and I also felt like it was interesting, the history classes, but I also felt like there was maybe a history for me that wasn’t being represented or a history that I felt closer to, vis-a-vis, my family and just Haitian history that I was actually more interested in. It was just nice to use that as pretty much, I think in my adolescence, start making spaces for me to pursue the things that I was naturally interested in. And I really think about that book and my love of magazines at that time as an entry point into how I can learn a variety of new things and also have a space where multiple points of view come together. 

Amy: It also seems to me like agency, magazines and books were tools of agency for you, you mentioned when you went to study liberal arts. Can you tell me about that chapter of your life and I’m so fascinated by how at this point you’re seeing the world, your creative agency is already kind of coming together through listening and knowledge seeking. But you’re observational to the point that you’re sort of recognizing all of these subtle differences in the way people have developed in different situations as well. So what were the formative experiences that happened for you in college?

Alice: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is that I chose to pursue liberal arts because perhaps maybe you’re sensing that I’ve always maybe held a variety of interests and so maybe always art for me to narrow my scope to one discipline. I also think I have fundamentally an issue with the disciplining of knowledge anyway. So I think it was just like a little bit of me trying to break away from that. And there were just so many things that I really enjoyed. 

I think if there were two through-lines, or two main highlights of that education, I think it was really thinking a little bit more around anthropology and also I think thinking about creative engagement through the arts. Those were the two things that I feel like I took away that I’m like these things still really exist. I also had a lot of space to experiment. Maybe at one point thought I wanted to work in the non-profit space, so took a lot of interesting classes on nonprofit management. Also some things around ‘emerging markets.’ I was just interested to know, what is going on, how can I chart a path for myself and I want to know everything. 

But I think at its core, I think the time spent really cultivating a practice in anthropology and also thinking about how those things then come into a more engaging format were the things that I feel like I took with me outside of that time. 

Amy: Yes, okay, so that makes sense thinking about the work that you’re doing. Maybe you can chart a path for us. I love that you’re anti the pigeon-holing of knowledge or practice. I don’t think that’s inherently good for anybody. But how did you navigate the post-college early career years in terms of all of these different interests and how did you pull yourself through to what you’re doing right now? 

Alice: Yeah, I mean I think it’s been a 15 year practice of doing that. 

Amy: Can I read just a section from your bio? It says your work over the past 15 years is experimental, referential and relational, existing at the intersection of arts, community, engagement and food. So just to set our listeners up for the journey we’re about to go on (laughter), please tell us? 

Alice: Thanks for that set up before anybody feels like they went on a whole trip where they weren’t prepared to go there with us. (Laughs) basically I kind of knew what my starting point was going to be when I left high school. I have an older sister who is actually around 15 years my senior and been a very driving career in music. More specifically in events and artist management and I pretty much just wanted to be her replica at that time. Pretty much she was very generous to me when I was… people would have different types of odd jobs for summer in high school and summer in college. 

And pretty much my odd job, but it was actually quite a valuable currency at the time, was pretty much being the person that would go around her events and collecting names for the email list. And I was very excited about it. But I also knew that I wanted to kind of… I mean music had been such a big part of my life and I also just felt like it was a certain language that spoke… it just spoke across so many different life experiences and I just found it to be such a powerful tool.

And I was very moved by it. I wanted to be involved in music and also I had done some time abroad and had fell in love with the burgeoning music scene that was kind of happening in the UK. This is around the time of Amy Winehouse being discovered and started to record music. So when I got back I was like, this is what I know I want to do and I want to work with musicians like this. And I need to find a way to do it. So I navigated, with the help of my sister, finding a way into an internship at a major label. 

Had a really interesting experience there, but I think also became very clear to me that that wasn’t the way that I wanted to actually participate. I think the music industry at the time was also on this cusp of needing to completely change the way it thought about music as a business. And if I’m also being quite frank, there was just a lot of misogynistic practices that had seen implemented during that time and I was like, I can’t stand this and I don’t want to be a part of this. But I know I want to be a part of music. 

Amy: Did you consider that informative or disillusioning? 

Alice: I think it was informative, it was a way of collecting data and I was like, now I know, now I know that this is the way it is behind these doors. And now I also know that this is not what I want to do. I think a lot of these experiences are learnings and I’m always like, it’s better for me to know when I learn what I don’t want, then I can be more explicit about what I do want. So it was very clear to me and at that point I had had another opportunity to go work, actually at a black-owned digital media agency in Harlem, which is where I met a lot of my collaborator… my current collaborators actually. Nu was among one of them….

Amy: Nu Goteh, your co-founder of Deem Journal, also previous episode of Clever podcast (laughs).

Alice: Yes, Nu Goteh, I met there, I met my friend Brian, I met a mentor of mine there as well. And I was pretty much… I mean I really love that time because I had a lot of freedom to just come in and experiment with what I thought the music space could be. And I had the chance to experiment with new mediums. At the time there was also the blog format, so I had pretty much proposed that if we wanted to be like a part of music culture, we needed to have a platform for disseminating new ideas around music and I had pitched a blog called The Blast. You can’t find it online anymore (laughs). 

But I pretty much actually ran editorial while I was working at the digital media agency around this subculture of musicians that was forming in New York City, more specifically around the lower East Side and also in Brooklyn. And basically for about six years really did that. Also started a platform called Homebased where I had a chance to work with a lot of emerging talent. I was very much enamored by frameworks of A&R and artist development and really wanted to think about how I could bring that into my practice. 

I got a chance to work with musicians, artists and also work with them in different formats like live performances. I had a chance to start a video platform where I did infuse with specific artists. And just, I think, also really cultivate a point of view, I also had a bit of a place based practice around that, where there was a creative commune in Ditmas park and I had a chance to actually publish an EP of five records with artists that I was pretty much working with around this time. 

And I feel really thankful for that experience. I think it was all very much community engaged and again at this time, was a time when artists were really looking for new platforms for how they could get their music out there and be discovered. How could they actually create careers alongside the major labels because it became very clear at that time that that wasn’t the only way of existing. 

Amy: Carving the paths and opening the channels for a more independent route in the music industry. 

Alice: Yes. 

Amy: I need to hear more about this creative commune please. 

Alice: It is also, I would say, a place that taught me so much. It was called The Clubhouse, it was in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, which if you’ve never been, it’s like, it’s just such an interesting part of New York. There’s all types of cultures co-existing there and then there’s also this little pocket of Ditmas Park that has these Victorian style mansions essentially. And interestingly enough I had met the people that were running this space through Homebased, through a mix tape that I had put out for South by Southwest, I think, in 2009 or something. I came in touch with this commune basically through a mix tape that I had made for South by Southwest, I think in 2009 and at this time South by Southwest was where a lot of new talent were going to be discovered and share their music. And as somebody that was cultivating a platform, I had basically put forth a mix tape of like, if you’re here, here’s what you need to be kind of listening to. 

The song was called Life of a Lover, it was produced by The Clubhouse, so basically we were the producers that were living in this commune and there was an artist, Theophilus London who was on the record, essentially. And I remember hearing the record and I was just like, this is one of the most amazing songs I’ve heard in forever. And I need to know who these people are that made it. And I think when I got back to New York I had a chance to go a release party and I had a chance to meet them. It was Andrew and Matt who were the two producers that were kind of like organizing everybody.

And basically the commune was full of a lot of classically trained jazz musicians, most of them from Texas, that had all found each other in Brooklyn and were co-existing with each other. 

Amy: That sounds magical. 

Alice: It was amazing. And also Kelly told me about the house and I was like okay, I need to find a way to get there. I had a chance, they invited me over and when I got there I was like, this is so magical and I remember just saying, if there’s ever an opening here (laughs), please give me a call. I think it ended up being maybe a year and a half afterwards, some people were moving out and I think I was first on the list because I had also… between then and that time, had actually worked on this EP where they actually were the produces of the EP. And I really wanted to talk about them being a space of cultivating artists. 

Because they had this really amazing way of… all of them collaborating with each other about holding these jam sessions and then pretty much they would just be longform jams. And then they would pretty much edit and sample their live jams into tracks essentially. And so I was just very fascinated by that process. And I also wanted to bring them into the community of artists that I was also supporting in a way. So to do that we made this EP called Live from The Clubhouse. 

As I also mentioned, I had a chance to live there and it was… I also say it was another one of my formative times in my 20s because living with eight different musicians at once (laughs) in New York was equal parts crazy and equal parts beautiful. You had a chance… you really learned how to live with people and I think that’s such a fundamental lesson that I really hoped that more people do have a chance to practice. What it means to co-live with each other, what it means to co-exist, what it means to actually care for each other. It does sound really beautiful, but it’s also, out of necessity of living in New York and wanting to have a decent quality of life for yourselves. 

And so you basically come together and you share resources to be able to do that. I’m always so thankful for that, for that community that I still hold very dear to my heart. 

Amy: Oh, I’m so glad you told us about that. You painted it in such vivid detail that I kind of feel like… or I want to be there. So you were present for some of these longform jam sessions? 

Alice: Yes, they were amazing. I mean again, some of the best musicians, they’ve all gone on to play for so many other icons as well. And also just genuinely really good human beings and I feel very thankful to have been a part of that, yeah. 

Amy: Well, sometimes the universe, if you follow the gravitational pull, it just sort of brings you into the right spaces. 

Alice: It does and I have a lot of faith in that and I think as I talk about this 15 year experimental, referential, relational practice, I think it’s really been… the listening that has actually allowed me to move with the flow of things and I think also be very clear about what it is that I want or who it is that I actually want to be in relation with, which I think is quite interesting. I don’t really try to write explicit bios just because I think that also just the way I use language, I want people to build a relationship with it. 

So it means I can’t give you everything in the bio. We need to have a conversation, it’s so much more complex than maybe what I could write, that’s static on a website. But I think if I could talk a little bit about those three-pronged entry points of this experimentation has always been a way of practicing something else, in a sense it’s always been a bit of a re-negotiation for me. There’s always this dissatisfaction with some status quo or way of being. 

And then the experiment is essentially like an intervention of renegotiation. In terms of things being referential, I also feel like I’ve really only existed in community with other people. I’m never really creating any work that is alone or actually centered around me. It’s usually basically referencing people that have come before me and also referencing people that are in my orbit. In addition to that, I think the relationality is always the biggest part of the practice because it is inherently dedicated to making meaning. And also making meaning with others and so I feel like, again, across this time of the 15 year span of music, arts, visual arts, publishing, which I haven’t gotten into yet. 

Amy: And the blog…

Alice: Yeah, the blog started and I’m pretty much giving you 20-26 and then I think pretty much 26-28/29, I’m pretty much starting to work with major brands that are interested, and connecting with culture and basically at that point after cultivating my own community based practice, they see me as an asset. So then I end up working with them on strategies around doing this work. And at the same time I really start not moving away from music, but I think starting to venture out in other formats of media making. Interestingly enough, the blog is one way of doing editorial, even the EP, is an act of publishing in its own way. Putting together those artists and that point of view. And then I think really also, I feel like maybe at this time I’m kind of reading a lot of Audre Lorde and I’m really thinking about my position as a feminist. And also having a lot of… my position as a feminist and also my position as a creative being, also trying to sustain a livelihood for my creativity in the mid-20s in New York. So I start moving into working with brands, but then also still wanting to kind of be anchored in community. And I had the wonderful opportunity of basically assembling a team of creatives from a Brooklyn based incubator to kind of think about what type of media women were interested in at the time. 

It was really around this era of the It-Girl editorial, those stories felt very reductive and also not representative of what it really meant to be a creative person. You would always get these very linear stories of one day I did this, then I did this and then I got a call from so-and-so and now I’m directing this video. They always just felt so lackluster and so unreal to me. And so I was having a lot of conversations actually with women around me at the time. People that were in a variety of creative industries. 

And so when I had the opportunity to pitch something to this Brooklyn based incubator I had basically assembled a team of creative professionals across multiple disciplines to produce and publish a limited edition print only magazine that was very much focused on highlighting very distinct contributions of women across the arts, across the arts culture and basically academia. And at the time we were pretty much interested in pushing some discourse around a variety of topics. Again, beyond the It GIRL. We also wanted to understand… and shape stories around actually the challenges and failures that inherently are part of a creative practice. I feel like that’s actually the space for learning and those weren’t popular stories at the time (laughs). 

Amy: No, but I agree with you and I don’t think anyone who wants a creative path can truly identify with an It GiRL where the story is only point A to skyrocket to fame. I need to see something that’s a little more granular, that has a little more reality baked into it in terms of what kinds of decision making had to go on in order for you to get from here to here. So thank you for that, but back to your story. 

Alice: It was a healing thing for us as well, to be like this is like, we need more stories like this. I think it was also, when I think about Top Rank was also a little bit of an experiment in what it means for me to create a working or a collaborative culture for women, by women in a way. Maybe a little bit pre-girl boss era. And not that it’s related to that, but I just think, okay, what does this mean, as you now known, being in collaboration with women has always been… it’s a way that I learned as an adolescent. It’s not something that comes unnatural to me, but I think also so many myths around archaic beliefs around women being too dramatic or too difficult to work with. Of course we couldn’t only work with ourselves. I was so interested in what that experience was going to bring to us. And I felt it was just so informative, also just another space to do something independent of patriarchal influence. Something that is also helping us fuel into something, so it was really putting forth an intersectional point of view around women’s media and women’s experiences as well, which was really important to us. I was thankful for that time, in addition to the publication we had a chance to basically work on a few different live experiences, like exhibitions, talks, trainings and also I love that the time that we had, this hybrid existence. And we also moved across a few different geographies. The magazine was pretty prominent in New York and in Paris and in Berlin and in London. 

Amy: What was it called?

Alice: It was called Top Rank magazine. It was a one of one, as I see it, it was a cultural intervention and I feel really happy about it. And actually the work had afforded us an invite to the Obama Whitehouse in 2016 I think it was, to participate in a women’s forum, to discuss water/heat issues and topics. To be addressed at the first of its kind, which was the United States and Women’s Summit, I think of 2016.

Amy: You were there? I didn’t read about that in the research, this is exciting, tell me about it (laughter). 

Alice: So yeah, that was really exciting. I mean culture has always been really important to me. I think it’s just been really key to see how it is a part of a larger ecosystem of change this was also somewhat of a hyper local, still with some international relevance, but it was quite a hyper local publication. So it was just really beautiful to see it be formative enough for somebody to see it for what it was and to understand its importance in driving, shaping conversations around policy actually and how women exist. I was just really thrilled to have been there and also just to have witnessed what can become of cultural interventions if you really believe it. That was my first foray into print publishing, I would say, and I feel very thankful for that time and to all the women I had a chance to work with. They’re all incredible people in their own rights. But actually the publication still exists. Currently as a podcast, which is led by Isabel Flower and Marcel Rosa-Salas, and they just make a really amazing long form podcast around a variety of topics and it makes me really happy that it still lives on in that shape and I’d recommend anybody check it out if you have any time. 

Amy: Of course, we’ll include a link in the show notes. So that was your first foray into print publishing which is sort of foreshadowing for Deem. Are there major chapters in between this and Deem?

Alice: Yeah, I just think really what happens is 2017 comes by and things changed politically and also during this time I’m working on Top Rank. I’m also still working with brands, so I’m doing multiple things. I also think I stopped in my tracks for a little bit to think about how I’m spending my time. And I think things became quite dark during that change and I just had a lot of thoughts around if today is my last day, how will I say I spent my last day on earth. And I basically was like, I want to feel satisfied in whatever that response would be. 

And at that time it was like, it was okay for me during a different era where I felt like maybe more hopeful to be able to spend my time basically doing things that were good for culture but were also in essence kind of harmful. It was never okay. I think that I understood it for what it was during the hopeful era. And I think when it no longer was that, it became very clear to me that I only have so much time and I need to actually really want to reclaim it. And two, reapply it, essentially. So I chose to leave a job and I didn’t necessarily have a plan, but I knew I would find one. I knew I was cultivating one rather, I was just like, I need some time, I can’t jump into anything else, I just need some time to shape what this looks like.

Amy: Can I unpack a little bit of that subtext. When you’re talking about doing things that are good, but also kind of harmful, are you talking about working with brands? 

Alice: So basically in 2017 I was very clear that while I had really enjoyed working with brands, doing very interesting activations, for somebody that came from doing a lot of activations at the grassroots level, it was really interesting and relieving to feel resourced to be able to do it and to also be able to feel like you’re redistributing resources to artistic communities that can continue to create. It was really interesting to me but I also feel like there was a point where I had to be very clear about my position, that a lot of the brands that I was working with, I didn’t necessarily believe in their ethos and their products and I didn’t think that it was worth spending my time and my labor helping them connect to communities that I actually care very deeply about. To only be able to sell them products. 

Amy: Oh yeah, I feel your conflict there, that’s tough. 

Alice: Yeah, and so that’s a hard decision to make. But I also knew that there would be other ways of rethinking this and maybe independent of the brands that I was working with at that time. It’s not to say that I don’t… there’s always something that’s inherently tied to a brand, sadly, no matter where I move to. But I think it’s really, again, this renegotiation of what do you get, what do I get, what do communities get. And I think it’s a good segue into how I came together with Nu to form Room for Magic. And basically around this time Nu had just finished a degree at Parsons in strategic design management and he was working at a couple of agencies. He was actually living in San Francisco at the time and we had basically just talked…  I had pretty much let him know I was leaving my job. And he was also growing increasingly dissatisfied with the way in which he was working. 

But we also understood the tools that we had cultivated in working with brands, the act of ‘driving desirability’ and being able to create lifestyles and being able to create narratives around things. We were very clear about those tools, but we basically wanted to repurpose them. How could we actually utilize these tools to shift people’s attention to things that they needed to be thinking about, things that really affect us on the day-to-day. 

Amy: I feel like we’re on a superhero story right now (laughter), this is amazing. This is how superheroes get forged, okay, keep going (laughter). 

Alice: I also during the time, I decided I was going to take a short sabbatical and come back to myself, really understand clearly what it was that we wanted to be doing. When I came back from that time, Nu was pretty much ready to go. We had basically said, hey, we’re making this plan, I think it was August or July and he was like, by the end of the year I’m going to leave my job. He was living in San Francisco at the time and he said he was going to move to Los Angeles. And I was like great, I had moved to Los Angeles also during this time from New York. 

So I was pretty much, I think, preparing all this time for all the things that were to come, but we didn’t really know what it was. It was just more like, we know that we want to have a studio together, we knew we wanted to enhance the tools that we have by really working with communities that we love and respect and also protecting them through the work that we’re doing. So that was a really big way, in which Room for Magic came together and actually as Room for Magic was forming, Nu had received a call from Marquise, who he formally did a fellowship did, and Marquise was also formally on the Clever podcast.But we get this call from Marquise and he’s really interested about starting a publication that thinks about design. And as you might be able to kind of discern, I love publishing, I love making media, I love bringing voices together. And so the mere idea of it was just extremely thrilling for me. And at the same time we were also starting a studio at the same time. So it’s actually quite amazing because I think it really became a space where the journal allowed us to, I think, establish our point of view. And translate it into our practice on the studio side of things. And so I’ve just been really thankful for that experience. But it’s also really nice to kind of, you know, start to trace everything and weave them together. Because I feel like we’ve just been existing and making and doing things over the past few years but this time of reflection, I’m very thankful for Amy.

Amy: Well, thank you, I’m so grateful for you sharing this story. And as you’re retelling your life to me, I’m seeing how this is all weaving together, not only that, but the weave is getting tighter and stronger and the tapestry is starting now to reveal a real narrative. It sounds like Deem was well placed in terms of its conception, the coming together of you and Nu and Marquise. And you’re the editor-in-chief, it’s a bi-annual print magazine that centers design as a social practice which makes perfect sense. But it’s also just an incredibly valuable document for conversations around how design, social, cultural, creative intervention happens all over the place, we just don’t necessarily call it ‘design.’ But it absolutely is people using their creative agency to shape the future. I mean I’m sort of getting choked up because I think it’s such a powerful, powerful publication. But you do such an amazing job of framing these conversations and while it has a distinct point of view, it also allows a lot of room for independent point of view and for the reader to gain knowledge and form their own opinions and be exposed to so many, so many wonderful voices that don’t typically get talked about in the Design world. So congratulations for what I think is a really, really profound work. And also, congratulations on the longevity. You just released issue four, A Sense of Place, and I wonder if you can tell us about that issue and tell us about your work as editor-in-chief, as we talk about Deem journal?

Alice: Well thank you very much for that. I hope that anyone that’s listening feels like it is all coming together and making sense of how we we’ve arrived here. Issue four, A Sense of Place is our most recent issue. It is led by conversation with a multidisciplinary artist and designer, Theaster Gates and he really lays the foundation for a place based practice essentially. I think every issue is a bit of an investigation of something in particular. And in this particular instance it is around the concept of place and I think for us, we’re talking about design, but we’re also trying to place the scope beyond design in architecture generally. 

Language is something that we acknowledge as both a powerful tool that can either liberate and/or be commodified. And so I think a whole lot of people when they hear Place, maybe, especially in the context of design, are thinking about place making. But I think thinking about place and it’s making and also I think moving beyond theories around place and really opening up explorations that are both highly open-ended and also subjective. I think each issues becomes us understanding what sense of social relations need to achieve XY or Z or are we thinking about in terms of XY and Z. 

The XY and Z is that each issue has a different theme and then we extend invitations to people to contribute based off of their lived experience around the theme. And so in issue four we’re really thinking about what types of new places have emerged from actually newly recognized needs. And also being honest, that new types of spaces have been enabled by things, like the internet, the digital and the virtual. So we just have really, I think, opened up that conversation to think about place. To also think about place from a felt sense as well. So place is really not something that can be made for others, but it’s an experience that’s very personal and also very significant and has a variety of interpretations. 

And that was really important for us to highlight in this issue. It’s actually important for us to highlight across any issue. One of the things that I say about Deem is that I think it could literally maybe switch out a cover story across each issue and the rest of the stories would still make sense in a way because I do think that there is this kind of through line across the issues around conditions. Basically conditions, designing the conditions for possibilities, plural. And that’s kind of, I think, the way or the entry point we take to produce Deem.

Amy: I want to just recap for our listeners. Issue one was Designing for Dignity. Issue two was A Pedagogy for a New World. Issue three was Envisioning Equity and now we’re at issue four, which is A Sense of Place. And there is a total through line and it all is, as you say, about envisioning possibilities. 

Alice: One of the things I want to talk about in relationship to Deem and issue four and also all the issues is that, you heard me earlier say about I’m very interested in the undisciplining of knowledge, right? I think there is also this necessity to engage with plurality around design, which is why the issues read the way that they do. It’s also why maybe sometimes you might not read it cover-to-cover, you need to sit with each story and kind of embody it in a way and then move onto the next one. 

Amy: Yeah, they do require digestion, it’s very nutritious. 

Alice: I’ve been thinking a lot about something that Kenny Odell talked about recently, designers as orchestrators of attention. There’s a couple of ways in which I see this happening and I think one of them is really each issue creates a space for you to shift your attention to. I think with attention being held somewhere, also connection is formed. I guess the whole idea is that there is this intention to be able to connect deeply with the topics in some way, shape or form, but also form their own relationship to it. I love that when people talk about design as social practice because every person doesn’t have the same response to what their interpretation of that is. And that is fundamentally what makes me really happy because I don’t come here to tell you exactly what design and social practice is. 

I’m asking you to be in relationship with me, to think through that together. And every time I speak with somebody it’s somewhat a little bit different. Maybe sometimes we’re saying the same thing, but we’re saying it in a different language and there’s space for that. And I think that that’s really what Deem as a publication holds across each issue and I think fundamentally what I’m really proud of, the entire team coming together to work on and accomplish. 

Amy: You should be proud. And I look forward to every issue and I’m thrilled that something like this exists. And I’m also really, really thrilled that I’m talking to the editor-in-chief right now (laughs), it makes me really happy. One other thing I’m fascinated about, about you, is you’re also very invested in food. We talked about music, we talked about…So many of the things that have informed your creative output. But food is a huge piece of it too. Can you tell me how food plays into your career?

Alice: Food has been a tool for sense making for me for a while. I will first and foremost say that I am not a chef, so anybody listening to this podcast, don’t assume that I will cook you a very delicious meal. I can cook something that I think you might think is nice, but I usually have a chance of working with chefs, to actually cultivate a specific point of view or a conversation around food. I had the chance of working with a good friend of mine, Cybille St.Aude-Tate, about five/six years ago, we started a platform called Earthseed Provisions. And really that space was a way for us to make sense of ourselves and our identities as first generation Haitian Americans living and thinking a lot about a land and a landscape that we no longer can forge a physical connection with. 

But also still hold and cherish a lot of stories that are disseminated through food. And so that has been one way of thinking about it. And one way of being about it and I’ve been very thankful to do that work with Cybille. She now actually owns, along with her husband, a space called Honeysuckle Provisions, which I highly recommend people check it out. It’s in Philadelphia. Also very much intentional, like all of these beautiful stories that are held and shaped around food. And it’s also very delicious. 

And in addition to that I also have a food practice, but it’s also place based, with my husband Edgars and it’s called Tambo and it’s a narrative culinary concept that really thinks through some of the principles of Washoku, which is the culture around Japanese cuisine. Edgars and I met in Japan many years ago and he’s actually studied in a style of food called Kaiseki which is a hyper-seasonal, multicourse meal that has its roots in Kyoto actually, and it’s a part of the tea ceremony. 

Having the chance to experience a meal like that in Kyoto really brought me to tears every time, just because the whole idea with this food is that you are kind of presenting these very subtle changes in nature that are happening pretty much every four days because they operate on a 72 seasonal calendar. So the season changes every four days and you get a chance to see these very small changes in the landscape and they’re represented through food and I just thought it was so beautiful. But I think there’s also something that I’m feeling into a little bit more, especially with an upcoming collaboration that I have with another collaborator and friend, Seyong Oh.  We’re thinking a lot about food, in a sense it’s another way of expressing plurality. I feel like sometimes it’s a little bit easier to understand that. We’ll be working on a multi-sensory dinner together in the next couple of weeks. One of the things that’s going to be really exciting is that there’s an olfactory component to the food experience. And the idea is that nobody will receive that scent in the same way because it’s all formed and your sense of scent is formed by your life experiences. So the way that you perceive a scent is probably different from the way that I would. And it just holds space for that. I really love speaking about food in the sense there’s other ways to feel and to this pluralistic practice that I’m very much interested in, in being grounded in. That’s a little bit about how I approach food and why it’s important to me. 

Amy: Just to bring it back to listening. As I’m hearing you tell me this story, it feels very much like your work through food is you listening to the earth. 

Alice: (Laughs) It is and it’s been really beautiful. I think it really helps me acknowledge and listen to the relationship that I have with the landscape. And that can be cultural, but that can also be quite practical and literal and I think that’s really… I think where a lot of my practice is headed as well. I think it’s really thinking about relational landscapes, both physically and metaphorically. 

Amy: Relational landscapes, can you unpack that a little bit? 

Alice: I can maybe bring us to another place which is Japan, that I’ve mentioned a few times, which has been foundational for me in many ways and maybe this is going to get a little bit emotional. I’ve been to Japan, actually my first time I went to Japan I went with Nu Goteh and my friend Brian, who I’d mentioned earlier, when I was working in music. My second time going back I went for work and during this time I met my partner on this trip, but also I had lived in Berlin for a year and I had a… not a great experience. The experience wasn’t so great that I actually used to move around the world quite regularly with a lot of confidence. And I think after that experience it was a little bit traumatic. 

I was going to Japan and the first time I had been I had been with my two good friends and I was going for work and I was traveling alone. It was a little nerve-racking for me, but there was something about accessing Japan that really opened me up to myself. I think one, if I’m being completely honest, I think it allowed me to be in my body as a black woman, with a sense of safety that I had never felt before, before…travelling there. And that was very transformative for me because I became aware of it because at that point then I started going to Japan regularly because my partner was living there and I was also then going to Kyoto a lot more than Tokyo, so I was having a whole different type of relationship with the place. But it was such an interesting thing to observe because when I would get to Kyoto, I would see myself almost tripping over my own shadows. I’m always accustomed to watching my back, on the lookout, being on guard all the time. So there’s something about having the opportunity for the first time in your life to not be on guard all of the time that was the most liberating experience for me.

And thus I have formed a relationship with the landscape of Kyoto in a way where it’s allowed me to come into my body. It’s allowed me to come into my senses. When you’re not constantly worried about survival and safety and you can move into a mindset where you can think about what it means and feels like in your body to thrive, you can observe and smell. I always say it helped me stop and literally smell the flowers. I had just been oriented in the world in a very different way and that place, I will never forget because it really had transformed the way in which I could exist on this planet for myself. 

Amy: I’m so interested in this and why potentially the landscape of Japan was able to offer this for you. I wonder what you think but part of what I’m thinking is that just as a body of land, of a place on the earth where there hasn’t been widespread trauma that’s for black bodies that’s been unreconciled and unacknowledged and unrepaired. 

Alice: Exactly Amy. There’s something about when I go there, it just really allows me to move and feel into my humanity. I always say that when I go there I actually… my faith literally feels restored in humanity. The levels of kindness that people have extended to me beyond verbal language, which I think is also something that I really enjoy being in Japan, because I do not speak Japanese currently, maybe in the future I will, I would love to learn. The types of things that we could communicate with each other, just by body language has also moved me to tears many times. 

The types of grace that people have extended to me, from small things, like me getting lost one time in Kyoto, my first time, and my phone died and I needed to charge my phone and literally the restaurant owner was like, it was kind of the end of the night, but he was just like okay, you can charger your phone here. All without any verbal language, but we’re all kind of, you know, moving in the space together and I’m showing and trying to do some gestures, he’s like okay, you can charge your phone for a little bit. 

And then he closes down and he asks me basically where I’m staying and I show him where I’m staying. He basically… he feeds me, then he tells me… he will not allow me to pay for the meal, him and his wife actually. And then they close the restaurant down and they walk me home and there’s something about people being unthreatened… it’s just actually really hard to say. I have never really spoken about this publicly because it’s something I’ve been trying to make a lot of sense of, but it is something that has meant a lot to me. What it means to just be a human. Japan has allowed me to, I think really come into my humanity in a way that I hadn’t really been offered before. 

I would say at the same time, having roots in the Caribbean and I think also inherently having this connection to island culture, there are a lot of similarities, culturally, I have identified between what I know of Haitian culture and my time, the short time, but the very meaningful time that I’ve had a chance to spend in Haiti and also really trying… right now I’m in a place of going into a deep personal practice of like these relational landscapes of most specifically this one part of Haiti called Shackmell and Kyoto, which is basically where I feel like I came into my humanity. 

And I really want to spend some time exploring those things through food, through research, through music, through conversation. And that’s really something that I’m looking forward to and I think it’s going to be another point that I would like to share with you around research. What is my approach to research? I mentioned it earlier, like this ritual of listening, I think it’s very much like, I use research as a way to make space for myself and in doing that I create some sort of relational form, maybe it’s a publication, maybe it’s an event, maybe it’s something like that. But I’m really big on relational forms through broadcasting and live performances and publications and installations, all types of things. But ultimately the research practice is really for me to come back to myself every time. I will always be a researcher. I might change all the other things that are around me, but in my heart, I will always be a researcher and I’ll never forget, I had one teacher in college that warned me about research. 

He said, “You need to be careful because research is endlessly seductive,” and I was just like, you’re right! And here’s where I found myself. It is something that really continues to call me back to myself and so I feel like right now, in my life, where my research is taking me, I think in my personal research and where it’s taking me, is this kind of idea of relational landscapes. It will possibly move into other things that I’m doing as well, but in a very personal expression, it will really be around these two places that I feel a deep sense of belonging to, and within. 

Amy: There’s somebody once said to me something that was so simple, just follow where the good energy is and it sounds to me like these two places that have allowed you to come into your humanity and access such a deep reservoir of self is exactly where the generative energy is. And research in the way that you describe it, also sounds like an active self-love and in addition to expanding your knowledge base and filling your curiosity, it’s creating space for you to do the things that are nourishing to yourself. 

Alice: Indeed! Thank you for hearing me and seeing me. 

Amy: Thank you for sharing yourself. When we talk about that it makes me want to ask if you had to struggle to give yourself permission to receive that kind of love from yourself or from others? Or if it’s something that you’ve always found a natural rhythm for in your life? 

Alice: I think that I’ve always had a natural rhythm for it in my life because I come from a very loving, generous, incredible family that I’m very thankful for in so many ways. I think there was this kind of graph that had been circulating the internet recently about the amount of time you spend with your family and your lifespan essentially and how it pretty much is super high and peaks at your 20s and then it pretty much decreases significantly afterwards. I feel like maybe I’m going to relay that because I’ve been thinking about that a lot. That loving rhythm and frequency has always been a part of me. And I think maybe when I went out to the real world and maybe stop spending as much time with my family, I started to learn a bunch of other things that were maybe a little bit more harmful around just not acknowledging yourself, not allowing yourself to take… not even just allowing yourself time and space to take care. And I would say that maybe the arc of returning to that is my time in Japan and that stillness that I had to be able to actually tap back into it. It’s a source that I’ve already had. I can’t lie, I think it was extracted from me at some point in my 20s, but I also have always known that I’ve had that. So it’s been great to have spaces that you could access, to reconnect with yourself in that way. I think it has been hard at some point, but it’s inherently what I know. It’s an intergenerational knowledge and power that I have, but I do think at some point in my life I maybe disassociated from it and I’m happy to kind of come back into that and to affirm that. 

Amy: When you describe yourself, you describe yourself as a design based researcher, publisher, and a host and I really would love to learn what you mean by ‘host.’ I sort of understand it when you talk about food, even Deem feels like an act of hospitality in many ways because you’re cultivating these really rich places and conversations for us to feel included and welcomed and nourished. I almost even love, it feels even rebellious to just openly call yourself a host as part of your creative practice. I love that! (Laughter) And it’s funny to me because I’m a host of this podcast but we sort of dissociated from that word, but I take it really seriously. We’re hosting each other right now and we’re listening to each other and there’s this digital buffer between us. But there’s a mutual interest, I’m proud of being a host. Not because I’m a presenter or in media, I’m proud of building a platform that I can hold space for people. And I love that you legitimize it and actually cultivating that in a way that’s beautiful. I’m losing my words because I’m actually a little bit overcome (laughs). I’d love for you to talk about why host is so important to you as part of your creative description? 

Alice: I really appreciate you for asking this question and for not overlooking it and for also not questioning it. You’re asking me to elaborate on it, but you also see me in this way and I think sometimes people are like, why would you put that in there? I ultimately believe that hosts have a significant amount of responsibility. And I think from a cultural perspective, and it also relates back to food, the roles that we assign value to are warped. I think being a host is the ultimate responsibility to me. 

It is something I take a lot of pride in. It is inherently a means of making people feel welcomed, making people feel safe, creating a space for connection. Creating ways for relating. It’s also a part of cultivating a practice of care. I think it’s the most important part of my work. And I think literally in each one of the other intersections, that would be the foundational thing I could say I do. I am a host generally, I’m here to be a facilitator, I’m here to kind of be a space holder. A lot of the work that I do is focused on creating platforms and there does need to be some sort of relation there. And somebody has to be responsible for creating that. 

To me that is some of the most important work and everybody has a responsibility to it, whether they see it or not. It’s just something I really want to lift up. I just feel very dissatisfied at the lack of compassion and acknowledgement for the type of labor that goes into service generally. And so maybe in a way this is me really trying to call attention to that. The people that care for you, the people that make you food, all of these things that literally nourish you, that is some of the most important labor. 

Amy: Agreed. 

Alice: I talked a little bit about working in brands, having some space in advertising and also going between different roles of working with teachers in high schools or whatever, and you just feel discrepancy of how these types of value… And it fundamentally bothers me at my core. That you get paid an extreme amount of money for writing an advertising ad. But people that are welcoming you to a space to nourish you aren’t valued in the same way and/or the same thing around people that are responsible for educating your kids and for you, these… and just, I fundamentally have a really hard time, no matter where I’m at in the world, around how people assign value to different types of labor. I think it is me subverting that term to make sure that people know that that to me is the most important type of labor. 

Amy: Hear! Hear! I’m grateful for that and it also makes me value the term ‘host’…My own relationship to the word ‘host’ because it’s just predominantly viewed through a media descriptor, but I’m not going to think of it like that anymore because that’s not really how I’ve ever thought of it. So I’m grateful to you for doing that. Hosts often consider the ambience of a situation and ambience frequently involves the senses, including music. So this is all me trying to drive back to music and listening and since music has been so foundational and important to you, I have two questions. The first one is just, are you still engaged with dance? 

Alice: Not as much as I would like it to be, but I always am like, girl, you need to reconnect with this because when I dance, I feel free. I feel like everything gets to move through me. I feel my most expressive. Actually I was thinking, my partner it’s been Covid, I used to at least go lose myself on the dance floor sometimes. I haven’t done that. Maybe I did a little bit this summer, I went to London and I had to just let it out. (Laughter) But not as often as I used to. I would like to make more space for that. But if a good tune comes on, I can’t say that I’m not going to move (laughs).

Amy: Good! So then in curating the soundtrack of your life, do you have songs or tracks you go to when you need to feel hopeful or process grief or even access the transcendent? 

Alice: Accessing the transcendent, I’m always going to Alice Coltrane and John Coltrane.  I talked earlier about me moving to Los Angeles for a little while and I’m very committed to the idea that I moved there to access two spirits. One was the spirit of Alice Coltrane and the other was the spirit of Octavia Butler. 

Amy: Oh man! (Laughter)

Alice: And I really do feel like I did have a chance too… I actually in one of my gigs I had a chance to recreate an ashram she had started in Agoura Hills, in New York, and so I actually went to the ashram in Agoura Hills in California a couple of times actually. Had this crazy moment where I had walked in and some people there were kind of taking care of the ashram, they were holding a service and I came in and I was wearing a specific color. And they had basically… at the end of the service they asked me what my name was and I told him that my name was Alice. 

They were very moved actually and I think they felt something because they were like, that’s a color that she used to wear. I also knew this a little bit because of my research around her and the different colors of saris she would wear. It’s like a coral color that I was wearing, but I was just so happy to be on that land, it’s actually sacred, indigenous land. But the crazy part about the ashram is that it no longer exists and around the time that I was going there, I think a lot of issues around them thinking about selling the ashram actually. And I think only about maybe four months later there was a crazy fire in that area and the ashram actually burned… the ashram does not exist anymore. 

Amy: That’s the earth reclaiming it so it couldn’t be…

Alice: Exactly! Exactly! And I’ve just always felt this relationship to her and John because listening to her music, after John passes on, in some of her songs you can literally hear her channeling him. It’s just really an amazing way of just understanding the complexities of what it means, living multiple lifetimes and also to have a spiritual, deep connection with somebody beyond the physical body. And I feel like I’m able to… there’s just, Alice Coltrane’s harp is how I access the transcendent, any and every time. 

Amy: I’m so glad I asked, that was such a great story. Alice, you’ve shared so much, I’m so grateful that you found a place in Kyoto where you could access your full humanity and I’m just really moved, I’m really moved by that. Thank you for telling that story and using language so effectively to help me resonate with what that might be like for you. 

Alice: I want to say thanks for hosting this space for me to share the breadth of these stories. These are stories that I have a chance to have with friends or people that know me, maybe now I’m making some new friends through the podcast. But I do feel like they have inherently been really important, but I also think… I like to take time with things. I’m a bit of a slow thinker, which I’m very proud of. And it feels nice to have meditated on this for a while and feel comfortable in this space to be able to share it and also to feel like it’s being received. So I really want to thank you for that as well. 

Amy:     Hey, thanks so much for listening for a transcript of this episode, and more about Alice, including images of her work, and a bonus Q&A – head to If you can think of 3 people who would inspired by Clever – please tell them! It really helps us be out when you share Clever with your friends. You can listen to Clever on any of the podcast apps –  please do hit the Follow or subscribe button in your app of choice so our new episodes will turn up in your feed.We love to hear from you on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter – you can find us @cleverpodcast and you can find me @amydevers. Please stay tuned for upcoming announcements and bonus content. You can subscribe to our newsletter at to make sure you don’t miss anything. Clever is hosted AND produced by me, Amy Devers with editing by Rich Stroffolino, production assistance from Ilana Nevins and Anouchka Stephan and music by El Ten Eleven. 

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Amy Devers

Amy Devers is a designer, fabricator, educator, and media personality on a mission to reveal the humanity behind the design that shapes our world.

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