In the throes of 2020’s social isolation, I discovered Apple TV+’s show, Home. Episode 2 featured Chicago artist Theaster Gates and his remarkable efforts in revitalizing inner-city social spaces in his hometown.

Inspired and intrigued, I had to learn more about Gates and his philosophy. I came across his 2015 TED talk, where he discussed his unique approach to urban renewal through art and culture. When asked how he responds to critics who argue that funds would be better spent on basic services, his reply was something I still think about today: “I believe that beauty is a basic service.”

Gates’ conviction that beauty and art are fundamental to community well-being has profoundly influenced my own design philosophy. His commitment underscores the power of creative intervention in transforming spaces and fostering a sense of belonging and pride within communities. This belief in the essential role of beauty continues to inspire my approach to design, reminding me that aesthetics and functionality are intertwined and deserved by all.