We had the good fortune of connecting with Rio Chen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rio, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I have always considered the process of creativity fascinating. I was interested in automobiles at age five, mobile phones at age thirteen, and home goods at age twenty. Previously, I viewed design as the final solution to any and all difficulties we have or are currently experiencing. However, as a result of recent social disputes and national-political conflicts, I’ve recognized that there is more to learn about the design process. There are numerous issues that cannot be resolved by merely creating a simple cup. Political design, in my opinion, is a philosophical influence that transcends design processes and results. In the design process and every decision made by designers, the political language and mindsets are evident. Take speculative design as an example: in order to prevent catastrophic catastrophes, it would be extremely risky to forecast the future without considering current regulatory frameworks and possible future trends. By presenting underrepresented ideas and issues, I seek to provide the audience with other perspectives. I cannot dictate your actions, but I can provide you with options for making a change.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I established the Satellite Project with an Instagram profile dedicated to political design projects and research more than a year ago. The online exhibition from the half-year international workshop with participants from the United States, Pakistan, China, Taiwan, Italy, and Kashmir has just been displayed. The objective of this workshop was to place regional and local politics and its impact on global political contexts at the center of attention. In addition, public programs from Satellite designers and the founder of the Ambiguous Standards Institute will join us during the summer of 2022 for public talks and related events.

My artistic work focuses on social-political content that explores ethical dilemmas and contemporary SpicyPop culture. My works tend to dwell in the gray space between imagination and reality since I am able to observe things from both perspectives, allowing me to believe that not everything is black or white. SpicyPop is a method for criticizing pop culture that is as simple and approachable as pop culture itself.

Being passionate about critical thinking and political language in design is considerably more challenging than planned. The design community and media have a tendency to focus on furniture design and technology advancements in design rather than the social movements and how design can be used to engage a broader audience.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The downtown LA with magnificent architecture from Frank Lloyd Wright, Diller Scofidio and Renfro, and many more are always my favorite spot in the city. Within a few blocks, the Last Bookstore also has some of my favorite art and design collections in town.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to thank the participants of Satellite Project’s 2022 workshop for providing top-tier design projects and concepts to the exhibition. They come from all over the world and joined this half-year-long online workshop for an intensive discussion on how regional politics plays a vital role in the global environment and design as well. The fruitful outcome made the Satellite Project achieve higher than I could imagine. Special thanks to Rahma Shahid, the head of randr research institute, and my cohort of this political design journey.

Website: https://www.riochen19.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/riochen19/

Other: https://satelliteproject.org/

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