Post 10: Reflection & proposition – Asylum seekers and refugees


There’s a special time each semester when I just completely lose it. This week was that special time.

It started last lesson when I came to class with two feeble concepts that I’d scraped together the night before. One of them being data visualisation situated in public with statistics about refugees and asylum seekers, and the other – objects that tell the stories of refugees and asylum seekers.

In my peer discussion I was paired with Josh, who is very good at offering advice (in the rare moments when he is focused). I tried to describe my two ideas to Josh who could see that I was visibly struggling to articulate exactly what I wanted to achieve. However, where I lacked in clarity, he made up for in confidence and a fresh eye. Josh was able to instantly offer the suggestion of combining the two ideas. He gave me the fictional example of a door being an object that a refugee may have used as a floatation device at sea (very Titanic, we know). Signage accompanying this object in public would tell the story of the person who used it. I thought this idea sounded quite promising.

Discussion with peers about your concepts is very valuable. I find that my mind becomes very clouded after focusing on my own work for a long time. An outsider will always be able to see things that you don’t. Perhaps its a sense of confidence and freedom that comes with knowing that you don’t have anything to lose as it’s not your own project.

Then came my downward spiral. After feedback with Siobhan, I was hit with the reality that my idea was still not very well fleshed out. As a coping method for this horrifying realisation I decided to write out three new mini proposals. I then sent these to Siobhan hoping for a renewed sense of gratification.

I did not get an immediate response and became very very frantic (If you are reading this right now, I’m sorry again Siobhan). I even had recurring nightmares about emergent practices over the weekend. How was I meant to complete this task without someone holding my hand the whole way through?

However, after talking to some of my peers and Josh again, I realised that what I needed to do was build on my ideas, not discard them. As this is a design response, I realised that the method of strengthening my concept was the same as what I usually do: finding references. I started gathering images, which was so helpful in building what my response would look like in my mind. This in turn helped me develop my written proposal. Without further ado here it is (TBC… in case I have another meltdown).

Proposal round 2

Project title: Objects & Stories (TBC also)

Practice type: Data visualisation

The issue: The refugee and asylum seeker issue is one of the most contentious topics in Australian politics today. However, from my probe task and interview, I found that people within the 18-25 age group often did not voluntarily seek out information about it. One probe subject even stated “I only read this article because you told me to engage with the news more” when asked to look out for asylum seeker and refugee coverage in the media. Otherwise, the way that they did learn about the issue was often just by pure chance i.e. watching a news program during dinner. This lack of education meant that their outlook was often detached and unempathetic. 

The possible change: People in my target age group become more educated about asylum seeker and refugee. They feel more connected and empathetic about the issue. They also become more interested in the issue, thus more motivated to seek out information about it in the future.

The design action: I propose a set of public installations that tell the stories of refugee’s journeys through objects. These objects will be placed in public spaces that people come across in their day to day lives, for example, bus stops, uni etc. Bold and eye-catching environmental typography detailing a short quote/summary of the object’s connection to the refugee’s story will accompany the object. These objects will also be a touch point for viewers to learn more about the issue, via a prompt to search for more objects, or visit an accompanying social media campaign page.

The placement of these objects will ensure that people will stumble across them and be ‘forced’ to read the stories. It is important that the individualism of each object is emphasised. From my research, I found repeated evidence that reference to refugees and asylum seekers as general collectives can be potentially dehumanising. Stories about individuals are far more effective in building positive, humanising connotations in people’s minds.

The branding of the installation will connect to the social media campaign. On the page, refugees will be able to hold live video chats talking about their stories. Branded imagery/quotes about the installation and subjects will also be posted, and potentially shared by viewers.


9h capsule hotel 2009, Hiromura Design Office, viewed 26 September 2016, < >.

Aozaki, N. 2013, Chip painting, viewed 26 September 2016, < >.

Katta civic polyclinic signage system 2002, Nippon Design Centre, viewed 26 September 2016, < >.

Ufan, L. Relatum – Position, viewed 26 September 2016, < >.