A new book from Kaleena Sales platforms the people and ideas diversifying design

“I embarked on this project because I want to see an industry that does a better job of acknowledging and learning from the beauty and intelligence found within global design practices,” says Centered’s curator and editor.

24 October 2023

Released today – 24 October – Centered is a new insightful book of essays, interviews and images taking a global look at design diversity. “As the design industry works to de-center Eurocentric ideologies and wrestles with its conventional practices, this book advocates to include new and diverse work in the canon,” says the book’s editor and curator, Kaleena Sales. “The essays and interviews center people, places, methods, ideas, and beliefs that have been eclipsed by dominant design movements.”

Kaleena Sales is a design educator and advocate. Associate professor of graphic design and chair of the department of art and design at Tennessee State University, Kaleena is a co-author of Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-Racist, Non-Binary Field Guide for Graphic Designers, and co-hosts a podcast about design and culture with Design Observer. When beginning the book, Kaleena says that “I envisioned a neat and streamlined series of essays, matching in length and format.” Though what instead developed was something that Kaleena describes as “much more organic”.


Examples of meishuzi for the phrase meaning “Chinese style” from Zhongxi wanyou meishuzi (Chinese and Western Meishuzi), edited by Shi Peiqing, 1948.

Throughout the entire process of creating the book, Kaleena recalls being “left speechless and humbled at the generous sharing of knowledge”. Throughout the book you’ll find a rich and varied topics – including Chinese typography, Indian truck art, and quilting – as well as interviews with individuals spearheading change, like Indigenous designer Sadie Red Wing, Vocal Type founder Tré Seals and Cheryl D. Holmes Miller, a leading figure in fighting for the decolonisation of the design industry.

Already the book has received significant praise from within the design community. Lesley-Ann Noel, co-editor of The Black Experience in Design and author of Design Social Change says that “this is a much-needed text for anyone trying to broaden their understanding of design or for professors and students seeking diverse design practices.” While Briar Levit – professor of graphic design at Portland State University – says: “Centered pushes against the boundaries of the ways graphic design practice has been traditionally defined. The essays examine ongoing practices across the globe – some of which span hundreds of years, others starting only within the last few.”

Not only does Kaleena hope that the book helps to advocate for a more diverse, less Eurocentric design industry, she also hopes that it will help designers from marginalised communities to feel seen. “After reading this book, I hope that more designers from communities around the globe see themselves represented,” Kaleena concludes. “I want them to know that they belong in this industry, and that their ideas and approaches to visual communication have value.”


Lithographic poster published by OSPAAAL.


#StopAsianHate Public Service Announcement for Times Square, New York City.


Type design for book title, Afrikan Alphabets, 2004.


Truck cabin decorated with vinyl and stickers in Sirhind, Punjab.


Beni Ouarain rug made by Malika Hdoudi, Fatima Yidri, Fatima Ahknini, and Fatima Adoudi from the Imelghas Women’s Cooperative in Imelghas. bottom: Pile knot Marmoucha rug by Zarwali Tchfa from Cooperative Zarbiyat Marmoucha.


Typeface specimen: VTC Marsha. Vocal Type.


Settler Colonial Revolt, 2022, acrylic paint and collage, 16.5 x 23.5 in (42 x 60 cm). The Revolutionary War for Independence, which witnessed thirteen colonies throw off the yoke of British colonization from the shores of North America by the American Continental Army, is a noble and romantic story. However, the quest for independence, led by General George Washington (center, above) wasn’t a revolt to free all people from the instrument of imperial control but, rather, a settler colonial revolt of self-interest. Meanwhile, the enslaved, depicted bearing stars underneath General Washington, had their own ideas of freedom and independence and would later use Polaris (the North Star) as their guide to the free territories of northern American states.


Made for the Kitchen, 2021, latex paint, denim, velvet, oil pastel, bleach, 46 x 43 in (117 x 109 cm).


The Buffalo Nation Will Rise Again, poster, 17 x 11 in (43 x 28 cm) Before Western colonization, the Pté Oyáte, or Buffalo Nation, roamed the Great Plains in the United States. Lakhˇóta/Dakhˇóta tribes viewed the buffalo as a close relative that provided resources to survive, like food, textiles, tools, shelter, ceremonial objects, protection, migration patterns, and cultural knowledge that demonstrates values of reciprocity.

—Sadie Red Wing, “Pte Oyate”

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Kaleena Sales: Centred (Copyright © Kaleena Sales, 2023)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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