Margaret Sullivan on Designing for Community Transformation | Episode 1 | Agati Video Podcast

“I believe so strongly that education is a vehicle to opportunity.” – Margaret Sullivan

We’ve got something new launching today! Welcome to the Agati Video Podcast, a new space where Joe Agati, COO & Director of Design here at Agati Furniture, hosts conversations with designers, architects, and difference-makers to bring inspiration and education.

For our first episode of the podcast, we’re welcoming Margaret Sullivan, Founder of Margaret Sullivan Studio, a full-service design firm specializing in cultural and civic institutions, with an emphasis on 21st-century libraries. You can discover more of their work at

In this conversation, Margaret shares about being asked early in her career to become a “library expert” by Malcolm Holzman, how she designs for feelings and outcomes, the pro bono work they’re doing in The Bronx, recent projects she’s most proud of, and encouragement for all of us as we navigate this year. We were honored to have her as a guest for our first episode, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this new series!

Our Key Takeaways:

1) Libraries are a crucial part of healthy communities. It’s often taken for granted how integral libraries are as a central piece of a local community, and the role they play in providing access, opportunity, and education.

2) “Our client is the institution, but our client really is the community.” When decision-making is framed through the lens of what the community truly needs, more meaningful work is done as real problems are solved. Their end-all questions is Has the community been transformed? (As part of this, Margaret shares the “why” rule: When you’re addressing a problem or observing community needs, you always need to ask “why” at least 5 times.)

3) Human-centered design is crucial in public spaces. We are designing spaces for a diverse range of people who are living their real lives. By including empathy and compassion in how we design our spaces, we see greater effectiveness in fulfilling the community’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

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