In marginalised cultures around the world, minority languages are facing rapid extinction. Irina Wang is a graphic designer using visual problem-solving to aid language revitalisation efforts in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh and the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. She believes design thinking has an inherent purpose and power to initiate change—but the scope of that change is up to us.
Irina Wang grew up in Florida before moving to London for her undergraduate studies. In 2015 she graduated from Chelsea College of Arts with the Dean’s Award and was granted a Mead Fellowship for creating educational materials in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. She has remained in the UK under a work visa sponsored by Pentagram, the design studio in London where she works full-time as a graphic designer on Domenic Lippa’s team. The Mead grant has facilitated a recent exhibition in Holborn as well as her research trip to Alaska, where she met the Aleuts of Saint Paul Island to begin working on a key text for their endangered Unangam Tunuu language. Combining interests in typography, linguistics, literature, and anthropology, she continues designing for language revitalisation to aid native communities in resisting hegemony and monoculture. She is a serial wanderer and interdisciplinary dabbler, as she believes that design can be a wide-angle lens to view and affect the world.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx