With a “yard sale” like none other, a cohort of five Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) students and recent graduates aims to both raise awareness of social and racial justice in design, and directly support anti-racism organizations.
Officially launched on July 1, Design Yard Sale has raised more than $80,000 in three weeks, with all proceeds benefiting a pair of non-profit organizations dedicated to anti-racist efforts.
The event has operated like a virtual auction and gift shop. Its catalog includes a curated range of original sketches, paintings, furniture, books, and apparel, many of which have been both donated and autographed by their designers — among them, Virgil Abloh, Denise Scott Brown, and Frank Gehry.
Design Yard Sale’s formation and operation have been decidedly grassroots: Student organizers coalesced via email listservs and the auction’s goods were solicited almost entirely via donation from their creators or owners, which included a number of Harvard GSD students and faculty. The team confronted the intricacies of e-commerce, transactional law and logistics, and sponsorship as they arose.
The homebrew origin story — and success — of Design Yard Sale mirrors its community-minded vision: to engage the skills and fruits of design in supporting anti-racist organizations and movements.