Deroy Peraza Brings Social Issues to Design

On April 3, Hyperakt founding partner and creative director Deroy Peraza spoke on his social-impact designs as part of SUNY New Paltz Design Week. In a lecture titled “Rediscovering Identity Through Design,” he discussed strategy methods for visual and verbal identity.

As a child, Peraza sought asylum from Cuba and moved to Miami in 1984. His Co-founder of Hyperakt, Julia Zeltser, was also a religious refugee from Ukraine who moved to New York in 1993. The two met at Parsons School of Design in New York City where their business, Hyperakt, began to flourish.  

“You just don’t take [things] for granted,” Peraza told Mashable. “Every opportunity we got, we busted our butt to do it.”

Both Zeltser and Peraza focused heavily on their cultural identities, as Peraza told Brightside that “what makes people memorable is their otherness, the things that make them different from you and authentic to themselves.”

This type of mindset built the foundation of Hyperakt, as two immigrants saw their chance at the “American Dream,” and hoped to open doors for others after them.

“For [Zelster] and me, that American Dream materialized, but for many people it’s a myth,” Peraza told Brightside. “Hyperakt works with clients fighting to ensure that everyone has the opportunities we’ve had to live fulfilling lives. We believe everyone deserves a fair chance.”

Hyperakt is a social impact design studio that took flight in September 2001, where graphic design intersects different social issues. As our society has entered the digital age, representation of social issues have become constant. Hyperakt tries to change the normalcy of advocacy design. Around 2009, after gaining more traction, Zelster and Peraza decided to focus more on social change.

In an interview with Kate Darby from Idealog, a media brand focusing on creativity and innovation, Peraza explains that without consistent outside-the-box thinking, innovation becomes stale. Through passion and curiosity, expansion flows freely through design.

“[When we began to focus on social impact design] Barack Obama had just gotten elected and the general program was really motivated, excited and hopeful. Social issues were sort of sexy for the first time since probably the ‘60s,” Peraza said. “[The Obama campaign] really educated the social impact space and nonprofits, philanthropies, foundations and think-tanks of the world about the power of digital tools.”

Hyperakt’s mission is to help people better understand the world around them. Through this understanding, the public can work to better the world as well. Hyperakt does this through digital storytelling and branding, while hoping the social space can focus on the bigger issues at hand.

On their website, Hyperakt described this mission simply: “We design with people, for people, to tell stories about injustice, hope and everything in between.”

About Susanna Granieri 76 Articles
Susanna Granieri is a fourth-year journalism and digital media production major. This is her fifth semester with The Oracle. Previously, she worked as an Arts & Entertainment Copy Editor and Sports Editor. She is passionate about journalism and being a watchdog for our local issues and news in the Village of New Paltz. She has also written for the Legislative Gazette, the Southern Ulster Times and Being Patient. She will continue her journalism career in the fall of 2021 at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.