Currently, I am pursuing my second master's degree in the Design and Environmental Analysis program at Cornell University. I invite you to join me in my world of design and photography utopia.
Linghao Li ｜李凌昊
MA Design in D+EA ‘24
MA Graphic Design and Visual Experience ‘22
BFA Visual Communication Design ‘16
+ 1 912-391-7213 | email@example.com
Behance / Instagram / Linkedin / Mail
Having received the most structured and comprehensive design education in China, coupled with diverse professional experiences, I thought I had a firm grasp on the design world. However, when I set foot in the United States in the summer of 2019, I was introduced to a radically different design education paradigm. This shift prompted introspection: What, at its core, is design? A question so fundamental, yet one that I found myself grappling with, despite it having been posed and answered myriad times before. This existential design quandary propelled me towards the scholarly realm of design research. While I may still be searching for that elusive answer, my unwavering faith in the transformative power of design remains intact. Welcome to my envisioned design utopia.
SongGuang Font - a Mongolian Font Design
Lucky Love - an Information Design
Entangled- an interactive exhibit proposal
Daily “AI” Poster
My Powerpuff - a Typography work
One Time, One Memory, One Story
Martian Language - a Typography work
Please Stop Stealing Sheep
The Perfect Human
Hello World - a Themed Exhibition
Wish You a Happy New Year
HARBIN Architectural Forest
The Apotheosizing Tales of Mine
Oi! Matcha - An Illustration Design
Love’s Poison - a Lable Design
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Illustertion Collection II
Tarot in Y2K
Illustration Collection I
Daily Poster Exercise
AN INTERACTIVE EXHIBIT PROPOSAL
Class Final Work | DEA 6025 Design for Change: Imagining Decolonial Futures, Department of Human Centered Design, Cornell University
Prof. Renata Leitão;
Anne Cramer, Linghao Li, Connie Lin, Vidita Save, Alicia Valencia, Pat Vera
Our metaphorical translation of this present day (2022) game connects the human experience to unraveling a spool of thread as fast as possible. The predominant compulsion is to unravel one’s spool of thread - to disentangle from what the past has taught us and disconnect from the difficulty of reflecting and engaging with consequences. Reaching the end of the thread is the goal, and players should focus on the present task at hand and avoid reflecting on the past. The linear, isolated strings represent a segregated and disconnected individualism that propels people further apart from each other.
We know this game is habit forming, and that the near future will be devastating if we continue to play the way that we are. But if we’re currently playing a game, couldn’t we change the rules and play something new? In other words: instead of trying to remove thread from our spools behind us, what if the threads were intertwined with others to create a supportive structure?
Entangled is the visualization of this new goal projected fifty years in the future. Our proposed installation piece is an interactive, participatory sculpture that captures a prospective vision of sustainable engagement for 2072. It’s a three legged, unfinished structure that is woven together from ribbons knotted together by gallery visitors during the duration of the installation. Gallery visitors are encouraged to respond to prompts etched on precut, color-coded ribbons that correspond to personal questions regarding the past, present, and future. The communal building of a knotted swing is collectively tied together, starting from freestanding scaffolding. Over the course of the gallery exhibition, Entangled will evolve into a knotted seating surface that is held together by the labor of diverse and multiple contributors and stories. In this paper we explain the development of our proposal including our conceptual journey, theoretical foundation, and envisioned gallery experience.
2022 to 2072
Although certain players in more vulnerable positions were granted creative perspectives and foresight toward the future, they rarely progressed and had fewer opportunities to acquire the resources they needed to move forward. They were plagued with the ability to preview the destruction from humanity’s actions, yet their isolation formed a shell that became heavier and denser as conditions progressed. Those in weaker positions who were forced to play became systemic pawns and, importantly, acted as cultural reinforcers of the dominant system.
Winners in this game became addicted to the fleeting high produced by living in the moment and found satisfaction from orchestrating the fate of those less powerful. Ultimately, the short-lived dopamine rush engendered a growing habit of lust and gluttony. The dominant players were insatiable and became skilled at pushing the repercussions of their accumulations and actions further away as the game progressed. They also lost the ability to think critically beyond the present, and to conceive of alternative possibilities. Overall, no player could genuinely enjoy the game, especially since at the end of the game, the resources for those left playing were depleted, and the remaining players must face the consequences of the winner’s consumption.
We tackle the challenge of reinventing this game, and envisioning a society fifty years in the future that plays differently –- through active reflection and sharing stories. This is about pausing and learning from others’ experiences, and we approach this through a participatory and performative process in Entangled. Society has learned that it takes conceptual repositioning of design thinking in order to tackle wicked problems (Buchanan, 1992). In 2072, design is used as a tool to build the future and reflect on the past. Design inspires, scaffolds learning, and supports the development of a material culture that reinforces hearing and learning from diverse perspectives (Escobar, 2018; Vygotsky, 1978). Design is a collective entity in which the role of designers become facilitators of people’s voices. With the help of design, disparate communities can become intertwined, reflect actively on past performance, build a strong network of knots, and support storytelling within this era (Boal, 1985). The process of design would be participatory and active, and designers would no longer be seen as the experts, simply just the facilitators (Santos, 2016; Manzini, 2015).
As previously mentioned, our social interaction within the systemic framework in 2022 could be symbolized by loose threads (Figure 1). An individualistic and competitive society is demonstrated by a series of isolated and unraveled strings. As humans go about their lives with the main goal to propel their own happiness, the strings remain parallel and are rarely, if ever, interconnected. This is represented by the race to reach the end of the string first before anyone else. In addition, these parallel strings also represent the linear nature of society in which it is assumed there is a clear objective and a clear finishing point. With a narrowed scope of mind, individuals in 2022 live in the present without thinking about the repercussions or consequences of the past or future. Not only could this competitive society lead to isolation and depression, but the social structure of loose threads is weak.
In 2072, it is imagined that society would operate as a collective community that works together. This is symbolized by the metaphor: a web of knots (Figure 1). A diversity of people form connections (knots) and foster understanding and empathy towards one another. When an individual forms a connection with another, a knot is tied that binds them to one another. This represents a variety of pathways in which individuals can bond over reflecting on the past, sharing the present moment, or projecting forward to the future. Storytelling is key to forming social bonds with others. Through these social bonds, which are a key pillar of well-being (Deci & Ryan, 2015) individuals are tied together and must work together collectively. Everyone is entangled. We win or lose together. This web of knots represents a pluriversal society with multiple facets. In addition, the form is never finished as harmony is never truly achieved or perfected. As opposed to the weak structure represented by loose threads, this knotted web continues to fortify and grow stronger by everyone who opens up and shares their story.
In the final form of Entangled, the metaphor is also present in the construction of the design and interaction of the audience. As the foundation, the scaffold represents the framework or founding principles on which to build the society. This includes the overall principle that the society should be collective and diverse. Next, the individual’s contribution to the piece is signified by ribbons, which, like in 2022, represent each of our lived stories and are unique. In addition, the diversity in color represents the timeline (the past is yellow, the present green, and the future blue). What is novel about Entangled is the physical reinforcement of the ribbons via the knotting process. The rope that links the pieces of the scaffold together demonstrates the strengthening of the bond/structure of the local community. The culmination of storytelling and human connections is symbolized by the knotted ribbons. Lastly, the desired final form presents something that is uniquely created by those who have contributed to the construction of the knots and thereby created and reinforced social bonds. Given the macro scale goal of global harmony or peace and rest, this is a task that can never be finished.
With the concept of knots solidified, our project team began brainstorming interactive exhibits that demonstrated the dichotomy between loose threads and knots. Key elements that aligned with our design goals were participation, immersion, and storytelling (Figure 3). One particular project worth mentioning (Figure 4) is the Knotted Grotto in Philadelphia, PA designed by Meg Saligman and HSA Architects (Institute for Public Art, 2015). The Knotted Grotto was created as a temporary exhibit in which people would write their prayers on fabric and tie it to a wooden nest structure. Together, the collection of prayers created a place that is not only sacred, but filled with stories. Post-installation, all of the fabric prayers were dyed, curled into spiral shapes, and arranged into a lobby installation for a local homeless shelter. This design inspired our intentions for a meaningful and interactive exhibit.
Our project team had developed several sketch options (Figure 5) of potential installation designs within MVR Gallery 1250, the suggested space for a future exhibit of the output from DEA6025: Design for Change. Specific items that were considered were the (1) size and consistency of the structure, (2) if the installation would be ceiling or wall-mounted, (3) the scale of the installation (table-top game, or full size immersion), and (4) how the audience would interact with the exhibit. Out of these sketches, three were selected by the project team and were further developed with respect to metaphorical development and feasibility (Figure 6). The pros and cons were also weighed for each option.
Physical and Digital Model
After refining the final design, our project team was able to utilize the modeling process to work out the details of the metaphorical construction. The design of the physical model (Figure 7) allowed us to take the first steps towards conceiving the full-scale installation. At the final presentation of Entangled on December 5, 2022, one question from the audience was “What is the rule book for the knots?” Further physical modeling would help us to better understand the architectonic mechanisms that could reinforce the idea of “looking back to move forward” using the ribbons and knots to convey this message. The digital model (Figure 8) was created to represent a scaffold that would be structurally sound. In addition, our team had discussed matching the degree of imposition that the scaffold had on the exhibit to the same degree of imposition that the underlying philosophy had on society. Once the collective framework is established, individuals have the autonomy to determine the final form.
The original brief for this exhibit required a physical design based on the output of DEA6025: Design for Change scheduled for February 2023 in MVR 1250 on Cornell University’s Ithaca, NY campus. This indoor space would need to accommodate five installations according to the team assignments in the course. It would require an easy and/or modular assemblage to fit the display into the room and a simplified structure. We would propose to place Entangled in the northeast corner of MVR 1250, as shown in the architectural drawing in Figure 9.
Entangled would consist of the following constructed components (Figure 10):
- Three-inch aluminum tubing with custom-welded corner angles, painted with powder coated gray paint), forming the perimeter of the display
- Ropes attached to the metal structure made of 8 mm natural jute, to which the individual color ribbons will be tied by the visitors/participants of the exhibit
- Two sets of laser-cut acrylic letters, with second surface dusted frosted vinyl (3M 7725SE).
- A woven basket to contain the ribbons, permanent ink pens, and a white wooden console table.
This exhibit would be crated in one custom wooden box with assembly/disassembly instructions.
As shown in the 3D model (Figure 8), the second, scaled-up version of Entangled would comprise a larger modular metal structure. It would be a traveling exhibit to be displayed in different locations: in public spaces or in large indoor exhibit spaces. This structure will be made of 4” aluminum tubing painted with powder-coated white paint, with custom assembly corner and extension metal aluminum brackets and metal javelined weights for attachment to the ground. Twelve millimeter natural jute ropes will form the perimeter to which the individual color ribbons will be tied by the visitors/participants of the exhibit. The exhibit will have a monolith information totem on which the name will be displayed, and where the ribbons will be held. This exhibit would be crated in four 4’ x 6’ custom wooden boxes with assembly/disassembly instructions.
Of critical importance to Entangled is audience participation. Representing the 2072 goal of a pluriversal approach to constructing our collective society, audience members would be encouraged to take any inscribed ribbon of their choice and read the prompt. Ribbon colors would correspond to the prompts’ reflections on past, present, and future. Participants would then write their response to the prompt on the back of the ribbon and tie it to the structure in whichever way they desired, as long as it served to connect one piece of the structure to another. The interpretive goals of Entangled, following the design concepts laid out above, would:
- have multiple main “interpretive threads” that interweave
- incorporate messages beyond analytical propositions. These could be emotional or attitudinal, or they could be themes instead of propositions (e.g. “global connections”; “changing attitudes toward religious authority”)
- make arguments in ways besides long, written, closely-reasoned interpretation of primary sources
- involve audiences in meaning-making, which also means giving up some control over the conclusions
The exhibit would engage the audience via the following specific activities:
- Audience members would approach the exhibit and see the main structure, accompanied by a basket on the floor, a console table, and some pens.
- The basket would contain stretches of ribbon, each bearing a prompt.
- The color of the ribbon would indicate whether the prompt reflected one’s past, present, or future. Yellow represents the past, green the present, and blue the future.
- Once the prompt is understood, the audience member moves to the table to write their response on the back.
- The audience member then turns to the structure and proceeds to tie both ends of the ribbon to whatever elements of the existing structure they would like to connect together with their story.
As the structure fills in, all of the prompts and stories are woven together, symbolizing past, present, and future societal connections, getting stronger with each knot and therefore unable to be broken.
- Site Survey
- Design (Architectural Drawings)
- Materials proposal
Phase 2: Refinement of the project
- Technical specifications and Materials selection.
- Mock-up of Details and Client’s approvals.
- Materials sheets and Material Samples (Samples approvals)
- Technical drawings.
- Sourcing and Outsourcing (Contracting)
Phase 3: Implementation
- Packaging and Delivery.
- Assembly and Installation.
- Crating and clean up.
Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked Problems in Design Thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), 5-21. https://doi.org/10.2307/1511637
Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (2015). Self-determination Theory. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 486-491. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.26036-4.
Escobar, A. (2018). Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds. (pp. 17). Duke University Press Books.
Ernesto neto hand-knots monumental tree inside zurich’s central station. (2018, July 3). Designboom | Architecture & Design Magazine. https://www.designboom.com/art/ernesto-neto-gaiamothertree-zurich-07-03-2018/
Institute for Public Art (2015). Knotted Grotto. Instituteforpublicart.org. https://www.instituteforpublicart.org/case-studies/knotted-grotto/
Manzini, E., & Rachel, C. (2015). Collaborative Encounters. In Design, When Everybody Designs: An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation, (pp. 93–118). The MIT Press. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/cornell/detail.action?docID=3339947.
Santos, B. D. S. (2016). Epistemologies of the South and the future. From the European South: a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities, (1), 17-29.
Vygotsky, L. S. Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Edited by Michael Cole. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978.
- Yabut, C. (2019). 120,000 Colorful Ribbons Hover At Brandenburg Gate To Mark The 30th Year Anniversary. Awesome Inventions. https://www.awesomeinventions.com/120000-colorful-ribbons-berlin-wall-30-year-anniversary-brandenburg-gate/