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Commonplace Design Brief

Published onApr 21, 2020
Commonplace Design Brief

The Knowledge Futures Group seeks to work with a graphic designer for work related to the launch and branding of its new publication called The Commonplace. The publication will exist as a space where people discuss the digital infrastructure and policies needed to distribute, constellate, and amplify knowledge for the public good. As such, its ethos is highly collaborative, open, and productive. You can read more about The Commonplace here. As a product of the KFG, the publication will be published on the open source publishing platform, PubPub (also a product of the KFG).

There are two challenges the publication hopes to face, in part, through its design. The first is the broad spectrum1 of audiences to which The Commonplace hopes to appeal, with respect to both readers and contributors. Part of the mission of the publication’s existence is to connect seemingly disparate fields through the common issues of access to knowledge and data stewardship. Much can be accomplished by bringing together, say, researchers and artists thinking about information disorder and library publishers, but it’s rarely if ever been done before in a sustained manner. So, what does that space actually look like? The second challenge is creating a site that is addressing issues rooted in print—in the traditional, tactile spaces of research and academia—but whose modern-day effects, and the discourses around those effects, are playing out in predominantly digital spaces. We’d like the design of The Commonplace to reflect this past and present toward building better knowledge futures.


PubPub makes it easy to publish and manage content, but it also limits the amount of customization possible. We’d like to think of this as a creative constraint. In working with a designer, our team hopes to find both the right combination of formatting options available on PubPub for The Commonplace, as well as the creative elements needed to implement this format. Here are the high-level items we’ll likely need, though there’s room for the designer to suggest additional and/or alternate elements:

  • Logo

  • Homepage banner

  • Header, text, and call-out fonts

  • Cover images for publication sections (6)

  • Colors for publication sections (6)

  • Consistent treatment for publication cover photos2

  • Twitter and Instagram profile images

  • 5 Things to Think About newsletter banner

We hope to formally launch The Commonplace in June 2020


Other sites on PubPub that might be useful to look at for a sense of a range of homepage layout options possible on the platform include:

If possible, we recommend creating a PubPub account and playing around with the formatting options.

PubPub Github


  • Catherine Ahearn, Head of Content, KFG + PubPub

  • Quincy Childs, Marketing Fellow, KFG

  • Zach Verdin, Strategic Development, KFG

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