Our group initially aimed towards thinking of ways in which to foster long term bonds with international designers and WantedDesign. It wasn’t until we saw first-hand the effects of COVID-19 on the community within New York City that we decided to pivot and focus on an issue more relevant and personal to us. It has become apparent that the Chinese community within New York City is being negatively affected by the emergence of racial biases related to the virus, due to its origins. Headlines of attacks on Chinese New Yorkers have become more and more common as residents search for something or someone to blame during the pandemic. As students from international backgrounds, we wanted to address this immediate situation through our thesis and figure out a way to create a positive social impact within the city that will still aim to create a sense of unity between WantedDesign and international designers. By addressing these incidents we can demonstrate how WantedDesign values inclusivity and diversity within the design community, strengthening bonds and unifying the platform with international designers. Through a set of collaborations and installations, the WantedDesign Unity Initiative demonstrates WantedDesign’s dedication to promoting inclusive and diverse design by showing solidarity with Chinese designers within Industry City and New York City.
As with many other groups, our biggest challenge was adapting to remote learning and creating a sense of cohesion within our project while being seperated. Our initiative is rooted in community strengthening, but being so far from our target community made strategizing difficult. Although we initially struggled to create a sense of cohesion, our struggles guided us towards an initiative that is much more emotional and personal to us rather than something that felt forced or overdone. Another challenge we faced was creating an initiative that isn’t patronizing or appropriating, but rather celebrates and appreciates. By allowing Chinese creatives and designers to take lead and have WantedDesign as the facilitator, we can allow them to write their own story through their work in their own words. WantedDesign lays out the foundation, while Chinese designers will ultimately take the lead. We also intend to give back to the Chinese community in New York City because by doing so we aren’t just proposing a strategy that takes advantage of a social situation, but instead, benefits the people directly affected by current circumstances. We addressed this by proposing that a portion of the proceeds made by the WantedDesign collaborations go towards the MOCA Fire Recovery fund and other Chinatown organizations affected by the fire.
The Unity Initiative driven by WantedDesign will be a set of collaborations and installations. Collaborations will be made with Chinatown Market, a popular brand located on Canal St, and product designers already partnered with WantedDesign and Industry City. Collaborations will be made available within the WantedDesign website, brick and mortar storefront, and partner sites. A percentage of proceeds will go towards several recovery funds for local chinatown organizations affected by the Mulberry St Fire. Organizations include: Museum of Chinese in America, Chen Dance Center, Chinatown Senior Center, Chinatown Manpower Project, and the United East Athletics Association. Installations will be created by Chinese designers using a wide range of media. These installations will be presented throughout Industry City as well as within the Sara D. Roosevelt Park on Chrystie St in Chinatown. Installations will be made by artists already affiliated with and featured by WantedDesign through ‘Art Around Campus’ and other initiatives. Through the Unity Initiative, we can foster a deeper relationship between WantedDesign and New York, and show the city and designers that we care.