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One critique too far

Design is a profession whose main goal should be to design for the betterment of everyones lives & futures. But it falls (very) short of representing everyone...

At the Design Academy Eindhoven, they pride themselves on their international community. But like in many creative schools, arts education is mostly only accessible to wealthy europeans. In my study year there was only 1 black student out of 150. While the majority of attendants were Dutch and French.

In classes I began to realise the comments and critiques me and my peers were receiving from teachers, often felt like personal jabs and came loaded with misconceptions and assumptions about people based on their race, nationality or sex. After receiving comments multiple times that my work was "Too British" (which I later found out means tacky or trashy) I decided to ask the community what kinds of comments they had received.

The post quickly became popular and provided a place for the community to vent, console and validate to each other that these comments we had received had crossed a line!

Using these comments, I developed an alter ego. Obscura Shade. The design critic who isn't afraid to use her voice, call people out and highlight bad design, through her ego-sized zine.

I have always been a quiet person who tries to please others, but around the issue of racism and discrimination you can call on Obscura Shade to shut that shit down.

Sources and inspirations:

Design Academy student affairs (thanks all!)

Invisible women - Caroline Criado-Perez (Book)

@Wherearetheblackdesigners? (Instagram)

@56blackmen - Cephas Williams (Instagram)


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