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Design Process丨Genderloop

📌️  Starting Point  
Genderloop是我在Emily Carr艺术大学为期一年的毕业设计项目。学校鼓励我们去做自己真正感兴趣的内容。我一开始有两个完全不同的方向:一个是设计针对成年人的订阅玩具(非情趣用品),另一个方向是设计一款可塑性强且能够自由组装的模块化系统家具。
Genderloop is a one-year graduation project in Emily Carr University of Art + Design. We were encouraged to explore what we are really interested.  I have two directions at the beginning: design a subscribeable educational toy for adults and a flexible and self-growing modular organizing system.

Since my previous work experience was related to furniture, I finally chose the direction of toy design where I could use more imagination.

My initial idea is to combine the idea of magazines and toys, so users will receive a toy related to a social issue every three months. And the toys in the series are all related to one core concept. Only at the end of the year, subscribers can figure out the main concept of the year.

I did some mind-mapping about social issues that I came to my mind. I realized the topic that attracted me most was feminism. China has a long history of patriarchy, and the cultural and socially constructed ideological confinement is even more deeply rooted. While metoo campaign is popular all over the world, China even has some counter-currents. And this patriarchal system not only puts a lot of constraints on Chinese women, but also burdens on men. So I would like to use this project to discuss gender equality.

After discussing with my supervisor, Christian, I abondoned the idea of subscription, which made the design too complicated.

I continued to brainstorm issues of feminism in China. 

I read as many articles, books and TED talks as possible at this stage. I also found some interesting results from Global Gender Gap Report. There is a huge gap between Canada (rank 24th) and China (rank 107th). This is also what I can deeply feel after I came to Vancouver. In Canada,  gender equality has become a common sense, and feminism is now more of a voice for sexual minorities, while in China, even homosexuality is still a taboo subject.

🚩️The Criteria

Entertainment + Empathy + Decorative

I found it hard to raise up feminism topics with my male friends and even my husband. It is so sensitive to talk about it in China. Thanks to racial feminists, men get emotional each time people talk about sexism in the daily life. How can I get people to let down their guard and to discuss gender equality honestly and openly?

With this question in mind, I started thinking about my project. When we think of play, most of us think of it as something that’s reserved for children. But actually, adults also love to play. When you feel happy, you are less sensitive. Then you are easier to accept new ideas. So I think one of my criteria is entertainmet. My interactive objects must be playful.

We are limited by our senses and our own experiences, so in my design I want to bring in design methods of empathy. Recognizeing the gap between genders, and then thinking differently is the first step for behavior changes.

In terms of the sustainbility, I want the toys can be a home decoration, so people would not throw them away after they play them.

🖌️ Concept Development
With those three critierias, I started doing design exercises: forcing myself to combine a game with a gender-related issue. It is an interesting and chanllenging process.

︎ Body Shaming 身材羞辱
The first topic I explored is about body shaming/anxiety. In Chinese society, both men and women have certain standards for their bodies. People pursuit extreme thinness, and there is also height bias for men. I want people to question this standard and self-shaming through the game.

Combining with the idea of Uncle Pirate, I use air-dried clay to make it. I drew little faces on the fat and tried to convey the fat can be cute. The rule of the game is to let players take turns to draw away the "little fat". When the fat is getting less and less, or unbalanced, the  figure will fall which symbolizes the damage of excessive weight loss to the human body.

But it turns out fat seems negative, and the body shape looks ugly and you really want to get those fat off. So I changed my direction to jenga. I used foam to make different sizes of round blocks, and cut them instraight. Players also take turns to take out of blocks. The more blocks players take out, the less balanced the body is. At a certain point, the body will fall apart. 

Explore more variations of the body shape. I rounded the edge to make this body, which reminds me of Michelin man. I add the head which can allow people to think of human body. Instead of regular faces, I drew the face which can represent different emotions by flipping it upside dwon.

But I was not satisfied with the appearance.

I played with the external shapes of the body to make it more like a decorative and eye-attracting object that can be put in the shelf. The design of the head also made a change. I explored different shapes and it turned out to be a coin-shape with two sides which has a smile face and a sad face. 

The final rule of this game is that players take turns to flip the coin/head. If it is a smile face, you can add blocks to the body you like and if it is the sad face, you take away the part you don’t like. Every time, you need to say out loudly the body part. For example, I love my shoulders or I hate my belly. 

💬️ Bias Language

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