WHY DESIGN MATTERS: Conversations with the World’s Most Creative People

This salon in book form features text from Millman’s conversations with the world’s most creative minds, thought leaders, and intellectuals, each with an introduction from Millman. It’s a visually stunning, often revealing, and always enlightening work that readers will turn to repeatedly for inspiration.

“I’ve discovered that the arc of a creative life is a circuitous one and I am endlessly fascinated by how people become who they are and how the decisions they make over the course of their lives impacts their work.”

Debbie Millman from Why Design Matters


The first “Design Matters” podcast was released in 2005. Since then, Millman has recorded nearly 500 episodes over the last 16 years, making it both one of the first and longest-running podcasts in the world, and the first ever about design. But it’s about so much more. The podcast’s central theme — How do you create a life with purpose and meaning? —is found on every page of WHY DESIGN MATTERS.

The book features nearly 60 of Millman’s best interviews from a diversity of disciplines, memorable quotes from dozens of “Design Matters” guests, and beautiful four-color photographs throughout. Grouped into five categories— Legends, Truth Tellers, Culture Makers, Trendsetters, and Visionaries— the book reflects Millman’s singular talent for gathering and celebrating curiosity, self-expression, intelligence, and both inner and outer beauty.


WHY DESIGN MATTERS features interviews with:

Marina Abramovic, Cey Adams, Elizabeth Alexander, Lynda Barry, Allison Bechdel, Michael Bierut, Brené Brown, David Byrne, Alain de Botton, Eve Ensler, Shepard Fairey, Tim Ferriss, Louise Fili, Kenny Fries, Anand Girhidardas, Cindy Gallop, Malcolm Gladwell, Milton Glaser, Ira Glass, Seth Godin, Thelma Golden, Gabrielle Hamilton, Steven Heller, Jessica Hische, Michael R. Jackson, Oliver Jeffers, Saeed Jones, Thomas Kail, Maira Kalman, Chip Kidd, Anne Lamott, Elle Luna, Carmen Maria Machado, Thomas Page McBee, Erin McKeown, Chanel Miller, Mike Mills, Marilyn Minter, Isaac Mizrahi, Nico Muhly, Eileen Myles, Emily Oberman, Amanda Palmer, Priya Parker, Esther Perel, Maria Popova, Edel Rodriguez, Paula Scher, Amy Sherald, Simon Sinek, Pete Souza, Aminatou Sow, Brandon Stanton, Cheryl Strayed, Amber Tamblyn, Christina Tosi, Tea Uglow, Chris Ware, and Albert Watson.


Millman’s gift for relating to her interview subjects in unexpected and open-hearted ways often elicits uncommon and revealing responses. Maria Popova says: “I have witnessed person after person leave her studio aglow with the ecstatic relief of feeling what we all ultimately wish to feel: deeply understood and appreciated, a little bit more in touch with ourselves beyond our selves, reminded of who and what we are in the hull of our being.”


From her introduction, Millman writes: “Here we are, a decade and a half into a grand experiment. This book represents a body of work, a love letter to creativity, a testament to the power of curiosity.” And with this book, Millman welcomes readers into the conversation, arms open wide.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Named “one of the most creative people in business” by Fast Company, and “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA, Debbie Millman is also an author, educator, curator and host of the podcast “Design Matters,” one of the world’s first and longest running podcasts. In the 16 years since its inception, “Design Matters” has garnered a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, six Webby nominations, and an Apple Podcasts “best overall podcast” designation.


In 2009 Debbie co-founded with Steven Heller the world’s first graduate program in branding at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She is the author of seven books, including her latest, Why Design Matters, and has been published in over 10 languages. Her writing and illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Print Magazine, Design Observer and Fast Company. Her artwork has been included at prestigious universities and museums around the world.


Debbie is President Emeritus of AIGA and is a frequent speaker on design and branding. Her TED talk was ranked one of the best TED talks of 2020. She lives in New York and Los Angeles with her wife Roxane Gay. For more information, including social media platforms, visit: www.debbiemillman.com