Pratt Institute School of Design

Vernacular Design and Decolonizing Design
Siyu Tian
Vernacular design is derived from vernacular architecture, which refers to buildings characterized by the use of local materials and knowledge, usually without the supervision of professional architects. Designers and makers without professional training use at-hand materials creatively to solve problems. The final solution, a tool or a method by those often anonymous designers is called vernacular design. They bring personal perspectives and experiences and cultural backgrounds into their making, which subverts the existing design canons. Therefore, vernacular design is an effective tool to decolonize design, and to help designers reimagine their works beyond the hegemonic system of knowledge and practices.

100 Days of Repurposing
The project aims at understanding decolonizing materials and tools by collecting the way of repurposing. Repurposing is the most basic and regular method in the vernacular design. And people usually don't realize that they are designing in the process of repurposing.

100 Days of Repurposing
Decolonizing materials and tools means when designing for a specific group of people or under certain conditions, not only the outcome should be accessible, but the tool and the materials, etc. should also be accessible. Therefore, people still have the ability to adjust, advance, and control the final solution by themselves.
Bondage Baggage Prototype 4 by Maia Ruth Lee
Reverse is a project exploring the meaning of decolonizing authority and canon. Students were asked to pick up a piece of artwork in Whitney Museum, use its visual language, but express their argument. Maia Ruth Lee re-creates packages that she grew up seeing in Nepal.
Decolonization is about reimagining beyond the current system that we exist. I make a counter piece that subverts all of the rules. For example, the original one is symmetric. Mine is asymmetric. I question what is the canon and by whose standards? What can be put in a museum? And why?

Decolonizing Design Online Class
The capstone project aims at helping designers and design students understand what decolonizing design is, how to decolonize design, and what does it mean to each individual designer.