Faggots are the Future | Josh Singler

a research through design qu𝘦ery (rtDq)

Faggots are the Future is the result of two years of introspective and reflexive design exploration into ways which one’s gender and sexual identity can be influential constituents in their professional practice.

This project was awarded the WA Architects Ltd Master of Design Graduation Award

shifting from 'query' to 'qu𝘦ery'

A query, as defined in the dictionary is an inquiry, one that is often influenced by the desire for some sort of authoritative information, and within an academic institution, there is often an inherent emphasis or pressure on the ‘authoritative information’ results. However for the sake of my research I embarked on a research journey that involved a lot of dismantling and questioning of self. Through the addition of an italicized ‘e’, I was able to premise my research journey on my own terms. The qu𝘦ery allowed me to explore what it means to approach design with a queer lens and instil this into Christopher Frayling’s notion of little ‘r’ research (Frayling, 1993) and his call for design-led interdisciplinary to be written over the door of the next phase of research through design (Frayling, 2015).

orienting oneself as process

In “Queer Phenomenology’ Sara Ahmed presents the idea that within the conflict of disorientation lies great potential, she states: “When we don’t give up, when we persist, when we are ‘‘under pressure’’ to arrive, to get somewhere, we give ourselves over to the line” (Ahmed, 2006:7). For my entire life I have unknowingly put myself under the pressure of getting to a destination where I felt at total peace with myself. The following queery was an attempt at “giving myself over to the line”–-an exercise to experiment with methods without boundaries.


Atlas, is one of many explorations conducted throughout my research. Atlas is a denim vest adorned with the word Faggot! across the shoulders. Through a series of intentional design choices, I set out to make an embodied design exploration that plays with fixed gender binaries and socially acceptable ways of conducting oneself in public. While wearing the vest I wandered around Vancouver without a shirt underneath and consciously took into account the interactions that I was having. Throughout my wandering, I noticed shifts in interaction depending on my location in the city. This intentionally designed, embodied artefact was able to give form to the queer theories and queer strategies that I was researching and furthermore, it was able to act as a vessel for interaction between the public with these theories and strategies. This vest was one of several experiments that helped me in beginning to craft an atlas or mental map of the city which further contributed to a better understanding of self and how that translates into my practice as a designer and educator.


Josh Singler considers his practice and philosophy as a queer designer and educator to never remain stagnant. He celebrates and welcomes failure into his process, and explores avenues that are non-hierarchal, collaborative, messy, and invites inspiration from unexpecting places.

Trained in communication design, Josh focuses his design research producing book, typography, and other print based work. Currently Josh situates his practice between design activism and design for social innovation, with an emphasis on examining the role that one’s identity has in facilitating design possibilities outside of the straight white cis man’s design world. Through a reflexive approach he aims to use his design to challenge an industry that has long negated opportunities to examine the power of queer, feminist, and other marginalized voices in design.

InfoWear: Clothing as Visual Communication Medium | Jonathan Yaputra

InfoWear is a participatory-design research project which seeks to explore the potential for clothing to act as a socio-political medium that interrogates the emerging nature of personalized media environments.

Social media platforms, governed by online algorithms, have altered the context in which we currently receive information. The project proposes a system that allows participants to act as ‘publishers’ by bringing the content of their private media streams into public view, by incorporating them onto clothing. The resulting garments exist not only in a fashion context, but also act as a platform for civic engagement.

The conception of InfoWear as a research project comes from the focus of using wearables as an information medium. In this instance, pre-existing news content and fabricated individual textual content exist as the sole visual signifiers on the mediums that are T-shirts and canvas bags. There are three main counterparts that support the mechanism of the project: Medium of clothing, Involvement of individual participants and the Mechanism of Information Curation; all three viewed through a lens of criticality.

This research is deeply focused on the possible civic engagement that could come out of self-made clothing interventions in the street. The participants that the project is mostly interested in are individuals who are well versed in the language of social media and skew towards the younger millennial generation. It seeks to compare the behavior of engagement with information online and on the ‘street’. While it incorporates DIY clothing skills and fashion hacktivism knowledge, the focus of the research is on the news message of the clothing that the participants wear. Throughout the implementation of the research, a white t-shirt is often used for the workshops and trials. T-shirts have historically been used as a medium of political protest and individual expression through DIY art. In this instance, a singular color white merely emphasised the focus on the message on clothing and takes away possible additional pressure on the participants to gain new fashion knowledge to merely participate in the research. This method allows the garments created and worn to function as wearables more than they are items of clothing.


Jonathan Yaputra is an art director and designer currently based in Vancouver. He previously worked on design and advertising projects in New York City and Jakarta for clients and firms such as Ogilvy, United Nations, Unilever, and Nestle. Previously earned a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and Advertising, his Master of Design research in Emily Carr University focuses in developing visual interventions into the system of fashion that touches upon communication design, digital news landscape and the future of information media. 

He can be reached for workshop participation, multidisciplinary design collaborations and press at hello@jonathanyaputra.com

Propositions for a place-based practice: Implicating the designer in care and relationality | Jean Chisholm

Research Outline

This thesis reflects on the role of the designer within a place-based practice, exploring the implications of being knowingly and intentionally embedded within community and building a design practice rooted in relationality and reciprocity. Propositions for a place-based practice emerged from a methodology of material and collaborative making, as examined through two case studies within Prince George and Vancouver, Canada.


Reacting to the abandoned proposal to create a design campus in downtown Prince George’s innovative but publicly isolating WIDC building, I assembled my own empty, confounding space: a box. Over the course of a month, I invited others to participate in using the box in ways that explored their own practice, constantly adding to and changing the form of the box using simple, accessible making techniques. This work led to a radio interview where I was able to explain my project and my frustrations to the specific audience within the university and the broader public, bringing attention to the fact that collaborators can make many things out of a box as a metaphor and commentary on the unfilled potential of the WDIC building. This project represented how acts of caring and making can create agency, navigating the implications of designing as a concerned community member, rather than designing for a community.

Story Ropes

Working with Laura Kozak and Charlotte Falk, the Story Ropes workshop explored a participatory process for informing public space design. This workshop brought together a group of 13 adults; 6 faculty and master-level students from Emily Carr University and 7 place-based knowledge holders, or “community stewards,” from Prince George, working in educational, public art, and social services sectors. Over the course of a weekend, the group crafted, collaged, and assembled rope segments representing our personal stories and values, and collaboratively led a walking tour to ‘sites of care’ throughout downtown Prince George.


Jean Chisholm is a designer, researcher, and educator living and practicing on unceded Indigenous territories within the colonial structures of British Columbia and Canada, specifically: the area of Vancouver, located within Musqueam, Skxwú7mesh-ulh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and Tsleil-Waututh territories; and the area of Prince George, located within the traditional lands of the Lheidli T’enneh. Her research explores community engagement, local identities, and transitions towards sustainable ways of living, often with a focus on her hometown of Prince George and other northern communities.


Discussing North American Chinatowns: A Tour Guide Manual | Ozzie Gong

 [Bonnie Tsui]

All the things he saw in Chinatown, these pagoda roofs, these dragon gates, these flourishes that to us signal China and Chinese-ness, there were things that he actually hadn’t seen in back in China for years and years and years, and they were not used in that architectural vernacular back there. And so he wondered how Chinatown in this really supposedly modern America was… why did it feel older than the oldest parts of Hong Kong where he’d grown up?

[Chelsea Davis]
Because it was designed that way.

In the podcast “It’s Chinatown” by 99% Invisible (2018)the speakers share stories about the history and background of the San Francisco Chinatown, the oldest and largest Chinatown in North America, and the success of tourism and its affect on the planning and building of other Chinatowns is discussed.

The residual of past Chinese (and Japanese) immigrants actions as they made shelter, food and adjusted to a new foreign place—of holding on to or letting go of aspects of the home they left behind—in order to be accepted in their new social/geographical setting is evident throughout North America. Alterations found in the music, food, architecture of the Chinese diaspora demonstrate: attempts of Chinese people to assimilate. Misrepresentations of these, on the part of Westerners (musicians, cooks, architects and builders) demonstrates an attempt to capture, and a misguided interest to interact with the eastern world. Moreover, a paper by Santos, Belhassen, and Caton has pointed out the marketability of a neighborhood that is considered as “Other”, such as the Chinatown, and work that exoticizes this neighborhood while simultaneously reconstructing this “Otherness” in a way that appears friendly to tourists (Santos, Belhassen, & Caton, 2008). It is evident that the exoticismof something like Chinatown in North America makes an ideal fuel for tourism and brings up local economies. These findings, led to my designed outcome for this project.

I gathered photos of architecture and food, that I had taken in Vancouver’s Chinatown, along with images found online, and made a tourist guide, a booklet for an imaginary Chinatown, a hybrid Disney-fied amalgamation—a discursive design act—responding to the Chinatowns of Chicago, San Francisco, New York, and Vancouver. My Disneyland version of Chinatown was intended as concentrated version of all four Chinatowns that I had been to, and exploration of the political reasons for building and maintaining these sites far away from China. On each page, the booklet features “specialties” of an integrated Chinatown, including North American Chinese food, North American-Chinese architecture mentioned above, and clothing such as the qipao (cheongsam), which originated from the feminine dresses of the Manchu people, but was considered as the iconic clothing for Chinese women by North American acknowledgement.

While this Tour Guide Manual started as an intuitive response to my primary research (observations, and walking in local Chinatowns, reflection of my own experience as a member of the Chinese diaspora) and secondary research into histories of these places, the act of making it moved me beyond taking the stance of documenter to one of commentator. There is an efficiency to irony as a means to get a point across. In the case of my tourist guide, irony seemed a more appropriate means of communicating these cultural inconsistencies of the diaspora rather than the affirmative one I usually associated with communication design. I saw this work not as a means of promotion of a place (for Chinatown), but rather as a way to critique of (what’s not “authentic Chinese”): the food, clothes, and architecture. In my trying to sort through these realities, I was aware that languages (different ones spoken and written) play a significant role in how we understand place and culture. I chose to use two languages in my tourist book for my alternate hybrid Chinatown reality. The final page of the booklet says “thank you for visiting”. It also incudes the statement “感謝惠顧,請下次再來”—the Chinese equivalent—which translates as “thank you for spending money, come back to shop again”. The two versions of the statement serving to demonstrate two different cultural-economic perspectives. An ironic nod that could only be understood by an English-Chinese bilingual person.

Designer's Bio

Xi (Ozzie) Gong was born in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. Having grown up with her grandparents and enjoyed reading classical Chinese literature from an early age, her love for Chinese literature, art, culture, and lifestyle grew tremendously. Throughout her life, Ozzie has always been fascinated by topics related to culture and cultural issues.

Coming from a background in Graphic Design, Ozzie’s main practices include publication design, printmaking, illustration, and photography. Currently, she is developing her skills in curation, space/exhibition design, and animation.

Ozzie can be contacted at ozziexgong@gmail.com. Check out more of her work at ozziegong.com !


“It’s Chinatown”. (2018, August 14). Retrieved from 99percentinvisible.org/episode/its-chinatown/

Santos, C. A., Belhassen, Y., & Caton, K. (2008). Reimagining Chinatown: An analysis of tourism discourse. Tourism Management29(5), 1002–1012. doi: 10.1016/j.tourman.2008.01.002


Project Outline

This research project sought to explore narratives associated with everyday objects through the process of heuristic making and creative collaboration with other people. It considers the significance of this in relation to understanding and expressing personal identity through objects. Through the act of making, the research explores unfamiliar ways of engaging with objects as a way to consider the multi-faceted relationships that can be found – between groups of people, between people and their everyday objects, people and their construction of identity in relation to their socio-cultural backgrounds.

Arguably, recognising these nuances in the relationships between humans and the built environment allows the designer to be aware of the different world-views they promote through the things they design. My practice aims to employs these considerations in the design for everyday things to potentially mediate sustainable practices in terms of production and use, relationality and co-creation.

Lamps as Offerings

I began my journey into investigating the emotional concentrations around everyday objects by making lamps that would embody the relationships I share with my peers. My making process was inspired by reflecting on my thoughts and feelings connected to each of the individuals I had decided to design for – the relationship catalysts of my endeavour. My approach to making was actively hands-on and I used materials that I could easily procure or had already laying around.

Through this act of making, my practice shifted to an ambiguous space of explorative making. My hands-on approach to material manipulation was a means of materialising my perceptions of shared relationships with the people around me. It allowed for an adaptable and reciprocal conversation between my imagined outcomes and the realised actions.

Gallery of Meaningful Disposables: Lamp Edition

Inspired by similar ideas of creating narratives around everyday objects to recognise and enhance their emotional value, I created an installation: The Gallery of Meaningful Disposables. The gallery was a collection of artefacts that I designed with my peers in a series of studio workshops. These workshops explored ways of building narrative and giving afterlife to mundane objects of everyday use.

The first phase of these studio explorations was speculative. I asked my peers to visually inspect their lamps and discuss amongst themselves their initial thoughts connected to its use and affordances. I provided prompts to keep the discussion going: “Who was the past owner of the lamp? Describe their relationship with their lamp. What might be their aspirations in life?” These prompts eased my fellow designers into imagining and telling stories about: fictional people, their lives and personalities, the people around them, their future – all with a central focus around the lamp itself.

In the second phase, I asked my peers to take apart the lamp they had created imaginary stories for. I was interested to see if new understandings of each lamp’s inside functional components would be afforded through the unmaking. The process of unmaking with my fellow designers proved to be very constructive in terms of illustrating the other part of the story behind the lamps – the one related to the lamps being a product of intricate and elaborate manufacturing systems. The unmaking allowed us to recognise the efforts and complexities that go into conceiving devices that seem so mundane to us, but are the products and fruits of remarkable amounts of labour.

In the third and final phase, I asked my designer peers to give the lamps an afterlife – to create something new out of their lamp’s components – keeping in mind the initial narrative they had built around them it in phase one. By asking my peers to follow the narrative they created in the first phase of interactions with the lamp I afforded studio based opportunities for thinking about the psychological and emotional considerations connected to old, broken, familiar, not so familiar everyday objects and turning them into something new, exciting and slightly ambiguous.

These practices, if considered in the product design process might allow for long-lasting relationships to be formed between products and their users, thereby extending product lifespan. It also allows for potentially generating a skill-based local economy that is more resilient and less wasteful.

Stories of a Water Bottle

The following illustrated story is inspired by the book Evocative Objects: Things We Think With. The book is a collection of autobiographical essays by scientists, humanists, artists and designers that describe the potential of objects to connect them to other people and ideas. The comic I drew expresses narratives from my lived experiences as a means of revealing and exploring my socio- cultural perspective by examining a mundane object such as a water bottle.

This medium of illustrated narratives can be explored further to share personal stories about everyday objects with the larger community, in the hopes that it facilitates a broader conversation around the perception of everyday objects as windows into anthropological understandings of the world.

About me

I am an engineer, industrial designer and design researcher, interested in exploring and understanding the space that connects humans to the built world. As a designer, I want my creations to be inspired from real human stories and evoke emotions that enable us to sustain deeper connections with the things we surround ourselves with.

For any inquiries, please reach out to me at sheendarbari@gmail.com.


Thanks for your interest,

Sheen Darbari