Lisa Elzey Mercer (she/her) is a designer, educator, and researcher. Her interests are in developing and executing design interventions that fuel and sustain responsible design for social impact. The developed frameworks and tools are intended to create a space for participants to codesign and collaborate on innovative solutions.

Elzey Mercer was an associate professor at the School of Art and Design College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She was an active contributor to both the BFA in Graphic Design and the MFA in Design for Responsible Innovation. The College of Fine and Applied Arts awarded Elzey Mercer with the Excellence in Research for the 2021 academic year.

She holds a Master of Design Research from the University of North Texas and a BFA in Visual Communication and Design from Purdue University. She worked in the industry for 15 years and owned Mercer Studio in Denver, Colorado and Forth Worth, Texas. Her roles included project management, interaction design, mobile application development, and digital interface research. 

Racism Untaught, The MIT Press

Elzey Mercer co-wrote, with Terresa Moses at the University of Minnesota, the book Racism Untaught, Revealing and Unlearning Racialized Design, published by The MIT Press in October 2023. The book is focused on the generative research study conducted to develop the Racism Untaught framework. 

By Metropolis Editors, August 24, 2023. Link to Read Here.

“This groundbreaking book dives deep into the hidden biases embedded within design practices and offers a transformative approach to dismantling systemic racism. Taking readers on a journey through the history of design, Mercer and Moses showcase how racialized design perpetuates inequality and exclusion in our society and challenges readers to confront their own biases and actively engage in unlearning these harmful design patterns. Racism Untaught includes practical strategies that aim to empower individuals and communities to create a more inclusive and equitable future. It is a must-read for designers, activists, and anyone committed to dismantling racism in design.”


If you are an educator, your students will dearly appreciate the conversations that result from exposure to a greater diversity of design voices. For practicing corporate designers, these books will help you to consider a broader history of design storytelling.”

Racism Untaught, published by The MIT Press, by Lisa E. Mercer and Terresa Moses‘ newest “Racism Untaught” provides an insightful #toolkit and #framework which is meant to disrupt the #statusquo of the #designresearch process and focus on the #development of anti-racist designs in collaborative #design environments.

The goal of this toolkit is to teach how to analyze design—and reimagine racialized artifacts, systems, and experiences guided by anti-racist/anti-oppressive principles.

Through their work, Mercer and Moses demonstrate how to examine one’s positionality within the context of racism and oppression, helping participants understand how design can reinforce and perpetuate oppression.

In Racism Untaught, Mercer and Moses provide the #framework we need to unlearn racialized design practices and move more generatively toward collective liberation through a core value of “antiracist design”.

How can we disrupt normative design practice through different approaches? How can we discuss and analyze topics of racism and oppression in ways that lead to a de-construction and re-construction of design practices in work environments, community spaces and more?


Design educators Lisa E. Mercer and Terresa Moses explain in their new book, Racism Untaught, how design can offer tools for anti-racism accessible to anyone.

Working from the understanding that many of the objects, brands, spaces and systems around us today have been built against a backdrop of ongoing racism and colonial legacies, the book’s premise is that just as racialised experiences have come to be through design, they can also be designed out.


To view additional publications, please download my curriculum vitae or view my publications here.

2023 © Lisa Elzey Mercer

Homepage Picture Photo Credit: Halee Jane Pratcher