Building upon the recent movement of Decolonizing Design, this work is an attempt to address the ways of mainstream Design historically operating  on a eurocentric, neoliberal, secular-modernist framework and has been used as a tool for reproducing these ideologies (directly and indirectly, intentionally and unintentionally) to serve the dominant western worldview, often at the expense of the oppressed and the "other."

In the process of exploitation, extraction, and discrimination, these ideologies have also cultivated the many contemporary crises we face today for which it has failed to provide promising pathways for transformative change leading to widespread frustration over social-political stagnation. With the intensification and resulting attention placed on these crises, many designers have become aware of their role in contributing to systemic injustices and the myth of neutrality. The recent escalations of social unrest as acts of defiance against this stagnation have also led to an increased receptiveness to seek from alternative and previously dismissed worldviews as the means to dismantle unjust structures from the inside-out (from our situated understandings of the world to how they shape it).

Our work responds to this context with an effort to challenge the western conceptualizations of design and justice through typically marginalized cosmologies based on our identities. These include but are not limited to Jain, Hindu, Manchu-Han, and Islamic lenses for design applied to a contemporary issue related to justice in the United States. Envisioning these design possibilities and placing them in conversation with one another serves to model the merits of a pluriversal approach and provide new perspectives to addressing system level and often design led injustices. The resulting visions, questions, and tensions are expressed through an online platform built around an interactive narrative giving an audience the point of view of a designer confronted with the complicated reality of these realities.

view the economic justice index

To show the philosophical and theoretical lenses we're bringing in, alongside lived identities and knowledge, we house these lenses in a speculative narrative with what we have called the Glitch Pluriverse, in which different cosmological perspectives are translated to a semi-fictional current context through visual, interactive, and speculative narrative. The narrative is intentionally expressed through the visual language of the corporate world and commercial design. The purpose for this choice is to recreate this world in a container that perpetuates cycles of injustice from which the glitches present a fracture and departure from the cycle. Additionally, they help bring the viewer into the protagonist’s point of view by displaying the various interfaces and environments they would directly encounter on their own computer desktop and within the office. Lastly, through a compelling visual form, we provide a digestible medium to bring together all the elements with all their complexity in a more accessible manner and attempt to capture the attention of a larger audience to respond to the questions and possibilities we raise.

view the glitch pluriverse

The Glitch Pluriverse is centered around the story of a commercial designer named Jackie who works within a system that perpetuates cycles of injustice and her internal struggle while trying to make the right decisions when her values are tested. This character is the embodiment of the tension that designers face when their values are confronted, challenged, and questioned. It shows the difficult decisions one has to make, the compromises, the personal risks of challenging systematic injustice, and through character development, the personal growth in which values and perspectives change. It models the real-life complexity of the concept of "justice" which is at the heart of the design practice and related social endeavors. Additionally, the different ways that justice shows up in our lives as something multidimensional, interconnected, and capable of being understood from different perspectives.

Moving beyond the internal and individual level of the designer and their values, the introduction of glitches takes the story into the realm of the systems and the societal by addressing the structures that shape these realities. With these glitches embedded into the story as responses to specific plot points, they act as interruptions to existing cycles of injustice and propose alternatives that invite the audience to reflect on how reality and its design can otherwise be understood and imagined. The glitches are all related to or interacting with the four types of design justices we specifically explore: economic, social, digital, and criminal justice. With each glitch, we introduce our unique cosmological perspectives as glimpses to preferable alternatives and through interwoven themes and lines of inquiry, each glitch also builds upon and responds to the other as an engagement between these lenses, placing the cosmologies in conversation.