Exhibition Challenges Designers To Create Products That Address Discrimination

Exhibition Challenges Designers To Create Products That Address Discrimination

Group of designers channelled personal experiences to create products that change behavior

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 27 may 2016

Design week events globally don’t often include work that tackles a major social issue. But there are occasions where we do get to see designers look beyond creating another chair or LED light. Offering a substantive look at how designers solve for difficult problems is the annual show from Group Hug during NYCxDesign. Founders Krystal Persaud and Lori Bailey use little restraint in selecting a yearly topic to challenge invited designers to creatively solve. This year’s theme, “Judge Me” was particularly relevant to current events.

“We challenged designers to choose a form of discrimination they personally experience and address the bias.”

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Exhibited pieced ranged from games to to wearables. There were universally approachable ideas like the Tru Color Bandages to representations of deeply personal experiences such as the Colorless Book of Prejudice by Oscar Salguero. Here’s a summary of a few of the 15 projects that made the show.

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Humantones by Spark Corps

“Pantone, the international authority on color, recently released a SkinTone™ guide, 110 color swatches that scientifically match the skin tones of virtually every person.

The color swatch of one’s skin does not define them entirely. HumanTones consists of 110 swatches that represent human characteristics that you can’t see on the surface. How can you codify un-seen characteristics like emotions, personality types, and thoughtfulness?”

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Social Fabric by Edmund Boey

“They call it a melting pot. The notion is that our forefathers, from all corners of the earth, came to America to find streets paved with opportunities for every man, woman, and child willing to work hard and agree with his neighbor. But our mental image of this country didn’t match—and continues to belie.

The true ethnic, cultural, and social diversity of America can be seen at face value. The “flag” is a cursory quilt composed of different scraps and fabric samples from around the world. Global techniques are likewise employed in the construction – from the Japanese style of sashiko embroidery to the French knot, the different colors and patterns are held together with varying forms of threadworm. With its multiple textures, pigments, patterns, and finishes, this is more than our textbook American flag.”

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The American Dream by Dalal Elsheikh

“A prototype of a board game where the goal is to achieve the “American Dream.” Players roll the die to get a dealt race and religion cards. The spaces moved forward are privilege and backwards is oppression/adversity. Rolling Caucasian, Christian would be the highest achievement in this game.”

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Make America Gay Again by Richard Morgan

“When Donald Trump created his slogan “Make America Great Again,” he probably did not expect an abundant amount of hate speech to be justified through it. The slogan is now associated with numerous acts of racial, anti-lgbt, and mean-spirited violence at campaign rallies aross the nation. I’ve designed a way to combat this hate with love. By merely switching out the word “GREAT” with “GAY”, the slogan loses previously held attributions to hate speech. It also parodies Donald Trump with his now-infamous red hat. To further accentuate the parody, rainbow iridescent vinyl takes the place of the red material. If we allow the rhetoric of crazy and agenda-driven politicians to be taken seriously, then we lose respect for ourselves as a society.”

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MEOW by Shane Strasberg, Song Li and Josh Corn

“M.E.O.W. is the prototype of a wearable device that educates and empowers men to stop catcalling. The device records the last 15 seconds of sound on a loop. When a woman experiences street harassment, she presses a button that logs what was said to her and sends the audio clip to male friends and relatives she has preselected from her contact list in the M.E.O.W. app. Her male friends can listen to the offensive message she just experienced. This puts them in the shoes of their female friend who was just harassed. Then, the next time they (or male friends) go to catcall someone, they remember a specific female friend who was catcalled and stop. They will also be prompted to a website where they can learn more about street harassment and how to be part of the solution.”

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Colorless Book of Prejudice by Oscar Salguero

“On February 6, 2016 while on vacation in Paris, I was racially profiled and physically mistreated by a group of “cops” disguised as homeless people right outside Barbès – Rochechouart subway station. I was detained and questioned because of my appearance and treated like a criminal without an explanation or apology.

I chose to tell my story with a colorless book. I reenacted the most symbolic scenes from my experience in Paris and photographed it.

Then I 3D printed the photographs as a series of panels. At first glance, the panels appear to be blank. The only way to see what happened to me is to hold these images against a source of light. Detailed layers in the panel are revealed and depict an image. There is more to the panels than meets the eye.”

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Cool Dry Hijab by Veil Hijab

“Athletic companies have been producing weather performance gear for decades now. Fire fighters and astronauts have specially crafted suits to help them overcome the roughest temperatures and conditions. Technology is shifting rapidly throughout the apparel industry and we believe that the world of modest-wear needs it too. At Veil, we promise to continue to bring innovation to the table and revolutionize the way women wear the hijab and modest clothing. Our vision not only encompasses the need to make modest-wear more comfortable and functional, but to motivate and inspire women around the globe to follow and accomplish whatever goals they dream of.”

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Tru Color Bandages by Tru Color

“In our diverse society, bandage companies should offer more than just peachy beige (“nude”) or cartoon superheroes. Tru-Colour Bandages was created by an adoptive dad who was troubled because 3 of his 5 children were growing up in a world that lacked bandages matching their skin tone.”


Nodio by Karen Mackay

“The words we use have an incredible impact on those around us, from molding young minds to causing mental and emotional distress. In a culture where we have a clear problem with the persistent use of “hate speech,” how can we change?

How often do your own prejudices come out behind closed doors?

Imagine a world where individuals are faced with a daily reminder of their offensive language. Similar to health-tracking apps, NODIO is a discrimination tracking system that carefully collects your speech patterns via a wearable, audio recording device. NODIO wristbands also serve as a modern “Scarlet Letter”, turning red for users who continue to use hateful speech. The NODIO mobile app provides a digital mirror for users to honestly face their day-to-day successes or failures through easy to read data summarizing their use of harmful language.”

Group Hug

Project Descriptions: Group Hug

Photos: Group Hug, Dave Pinter

+Group Hug

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