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For this project I collaborated with two fellow students: Gijs de Boer and Alex Blondeau.

 

We believe that big themes like peace and justice play out in the everyday. Othering is a process where we come to see other people as less human. It is the we versus them thinking. We tried to understand the phenomenon of othering. Often we point at others: they are different from us. Also in a context of overcoming othering we point at the other: look, they are similar to us.

 

We decided to come up with another approach: find the other in ourselves. We think that, when we exclude others, we point at their bad traits. But in fact, these are projected bad traits of our own. We are pointing indirectly at (an other in) ourselves.

 

(no) Other Self

Interviews

To overcome othering, we have to own up to this hidden other in us. We came up with two ways to do so. The first way we did this was by doing interviews with a single question. We ask you how good you were today, to find the subtle sins you forgot. Most people gave themselves around 70%, and started to justify why they didn’t consider themselves a 100% good. We made videos of some of the interviews, which can be seen above.

Design for the other in ourselves

The second way we tried to overcome othering was by designing for the other in ourselves. We design for subtly bad behavior, to make it acceptable, so you don’t feel the need to project it onto other people. Looking back into the subconscious wrongdoings our interviewees confessed upon, we decided to build objects that encouraged bad behavior. We designed a series of three objects, a series which is specially made to be used inside the walls of the Design Academy considering we used these grounds as our research base. In a video, we used this medium to bring focus on the action of bad behavior. The three elements are inserted into the daily lives of the Design Academy students and portray that self-realization of bad behavior is the first step into overturning othering. We accept bad behavior inside our society.

 

We applied this strategy to three situations that came from our research within Design Academy Eindhoven. We documented when we felt guilty ourselves, and designed an object for three such situations.

 

Work Nap Pillow: In this academy you feel like you have to work. But sometimes you're too tired and try to secretly take a nap. We designed a pillow for that.

One Suit Fits All: In an art school clothes allow you to express yourself, but also invite judgement, so sometimes you just want to blend in. We designed a suit for that.

Under Cover Desk: After an intense meeting you sometimes need distraction. But hopefully nobody notices you're on social media. We designed a desk device for that.

 

Instead of feeling guilty when being a little bad, we design a situation that supports you. We think that design could help us to accept our subtle sins, the hidden other in us. And thus prevent us to project it onto other people. We think that accepting our tiny daily bad habits could be a start to eventually overcome othering.

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Fenna Wenselaar

2018