How do we traverse the borders between design and art?

The Other LP

Classroom Project
M.Des 2020
New Media Design

student social︎︎︎

This kinetic sculpture was based on the philosophy of 'Othering'. The final form is a record player: a see-through acrylic cube with electronics that control the motion of the record player arm coated with melted lipstick.

"Some movements are more privileged than the others.” This statement by my mentor resonated with me. Given how the pandemic has made the disparity between the privileged and underprivileged clearer, I explored the concept of 'othering' and the power dynamics between ideas of 'us' and 'them'. I explored how these dichotomies and biases form, and why we fear something different from the norm. Researching queer phenomenology and othering in gender identities and ethnicity was my starting point towards a more universal approach. Growing up as a queer person, I have been subjected to the under-privilege that people of non-normative sexualities and gender hold in social and public environments, and how even body movements are othered. I realised how ‘othering’ exists in the most fundamental functioning of society. Whatever be the markers of social differentiation that shapes the meaning of "us" and "them," there is always the danger that they will become the basis for self-affirmation that depends upon the denigration of the other group.

Working on this project was an exercise in becoming more tolerant and accepting. I realised all of us 'other' people, things or systems. Research made me think of the way the media tackles the representation of groups during the pandemic. Another shift in my work was realising the sweet spot between 'doing' and 'thinking'. This project was influential in how I ruminate ideas and prototype them, and helped me observe my working style from an external perspective. The idea of incorporating lipstick was from my perception of how it is largely considered an object of femininity; make-up an act of weakness or hiding oneself. I wanted to shift its context by using it as a weapon of rebellious self-expression.

I see a tangent in critical design which is closely related to how this project's concepts operate. The way this project reimagines a record player, critical design similarly challenges the functionality and use of everyday objects and systems. As a tangible representation of how there is a need for a kinder & more tolerant society, various objects can be tackled in a similar way. This can create important discourse in innovative ways and become objects of educating children to recognise these biases that leads to unconscious othering.

This project was an opportunity to dive into artistic choices and design aesthetics I have always been interested in. Designing an artwork that discussed something I actively think about while meticulously making value choices was very enjoyable. Although it might not actively dictate in shaping my commercial practice, it gave me tremendous directions I would love to work in.


  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Roopa Bala Singh

  • Perfume Genius - Queen

  • Pink See-Saws at the US-Mexico Wall (Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello)
  • Can’t Help Myself (Sun Yuan and Peng Yu)