In recent decades, the Chinese economy has experienced growth of 8 to 9 percent year after year. This boom has affected how China’s youth internalize ambition, creating a large group of insecure youth, mostly from middle class families. These young people feel incapable of achieving goals in their careers and personal lives, so much so that they are now being called the “low-desire society”.
Through his research, Runshi Wei discovered that anxiety caused by pressures to reach increasingly ambitious career goals is a large factor in creating a low-desire society. For his thesis, Small But Certain Happiness: Finding Fulfillment in a Low Desire Society, Runshi set out to create simple but delightful experiences that reduce the pressures in the day-to-day lives of Chinese youth. His long-term vision is to build confidence in those that identify as part of this sub-culture and encourage them to once again aspire in life. The body of work he created for his thesis encompasses experience design, product design, speculative design and industrial design.
Finding Small But Certain Happiness
Finding Small But Certain Happiness is an experience meant to teach people how to find a small sense of personal fulfillment, by highlighting the overlooked yet pleasant details in a person’s life. Runshi designed a viewfinder held by a sculpted hand, for people to look through. He took the kit to different New York City parks, explaining the notion of Small But Certain Happiness and giving short instructions about the experience. People held the hand and looked around through the viewfinder to locate something interesting. When they found something, Runshi had them take a polaroid to remember it.
SUSU and SUSU PLUS
SUSU and SUSU PLUS are dystopian design provocations, commenting on society’s increased demand for media that asks little analysis on the part of its audience. SUSU is a smart pacifier that gives the user a more immersive and direct way to get satisfaction. Users put the pacifier in their mouth and connect to the app, SUSU PLUS, which allows users to adjust SUSU’s flavors. SUSU PLUS also features a plugin to allow it to be paired with TV streaming apps and gaming platforms. After use, SUSU is put in a dock for charging and sanitizing.
BIRDS is a lighting piece meant to reduce anxiety through small moments of joy. Designed specifically for people who live in cities, BIRDS is an abstract representation of the natural world. The moment you put a bird on the branch, it lights up, making a little sound “that lets you know this is your small but certain happiness,” Runshi says.
To learn more about Runshi Wei’s work, take a look at his projects in closer detail at weirunshi.com.