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Stairs, David

Professor - Graphic Design



David Stairs is Professor of Graphic Design at Central Michigan University. He has been active in the area of social design for over twenty years, and has published and been anthologized numerous times including in Design Issues and on the Design Observer website. In 2000 he received a two-year Fulbright to lecture and do research at the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. In 2002 Stairs founded Designers Without Borders in conjunction with his work in Africa. In 2003 he shared a Sappi fine Papers Ideas That Matter award with Sydnee Mackay. In 2006 he founded the Design-Altruism-Project weblog. In 2012 he received his second Fulbright research award, this time to India. Stairs is an internationally renowned book artist, with work in collections around the world including MOMA New York, MOCA Chicago, the Tate, and the Smithsonian. He has been represented by Printed Matter in New York since 1980.

More about David Stairs

Recent Scholarship

•“Challenging the Cultural Hegemony of Industrial Society,” published in Dialectic, 2023

•“Designing Ourselves to Death,” published in Ethics in Design and Communication, Bloomsbury, 2020

•Directed and produced the design documentary Digging the Suez Canal with a Teaspoon, 2019

•Fulbright to Uganda 2000-2002, Fulbright to India 2012


•“Blank. Raw. Illegible... Artists’ Books as Statement (1960-2022),” Leopold–Hoesch–Museum, Düren, Germany, May to September 2023. Curated by Moritz Küng.


•Published Dewpoint, 2023

•Published Polymeric, 2020

MFA: 1993, University of Oregon
Certificate: 1976, Croydon College of Art, London
BFA: 1975, Rhode Island School of Design

Social Interest Design, African Vernacular

Courses Taught

•Design Bureau

•Advanced Typography

•Contemporary Issues in Design

•Design History: 1750-2020