Title: BRAND NEW WORLD
Partner: Katie Pellegrino
Conception & Design:
In designing our internet art project, Katie and I wanted to mock/comment on our 21st century brand-obsessed consumer culture. We began by posing the question: “Why do people care about brands and logos?” Our inquiry lead us to hypothesize that it isn’t necessarily the products that people are pursuing. But rather the feelings that they derive from wearing visible branding. So we sought to tap into these base pursuits by creating an ironic webshop where we would sell consumers the feelings they’re after without needing to buy the product. (“Skip the product cop the feeling!”) We came up with the name ‘BRAND NEW WORLD‘, which we thought was a clever play on words on the dystopic social satire novel by Aldous Huxley, ‘BRAVE NEW WORLD’.
When building our project, Katie and I sat and discussed how we wanted this webshop to look. We were really fascinated by the aesthetics and sketchy look of early 2000s websites, and the nostalgia that they evoked. So we aimed to design our webshop to be simple and tacky in its visual design. We went with Times New Roman for the title and all the headers because that was the go-to font for many websites back then; and also a bright blue for the text color against a pale yellow background because we felt that looked pretty 2002-ish. We used an image of a web browser from back then to build our webshop within, but used Photoshop to adjust it and add functions that would work with and fit our site. Katie took the lead on the technical web construction. I took took the lead on the visual assets. I used Adobe Illustrator to distort brand logos into the underlying feelings that they might give to their consumers. (Champion > Cool, Rolls Royce > Really Rich). To give our site a more retro feel, we implemented GIFs that were blatantly consumer-centric (dollar signs, ‘I LOVE SHOPPING’, ETC.) . We initially were stuck about how we would convey our idea of buying the feelings while reflecting the actual brands. During user testing, we received feedback that our project wasn’t entirely clear that it was supposed to be a webshop, and were suggested to add pricing and a checkout process to better convey it. One night while working on our project, we had an epiphany that it would be cool to juxtapose the original logos against the twisted logos of the feelings by perfectly fading into the feeling when hovered over, and adding prices that were were significantly cheaper that the actual relative price ranges of the brands’ products. The prices of the feelings that we’re selling go significantly down to reflect the “cheap feelings” that buying things give us. When checking out, users click the cart button which redirects them to an article on the psychological effect of purchasing luxury goods.
Upon receiving feedback, we probably should have been a bit less obvious with the irony and allowed users to think it was a real webshop and, after exploring the site a bit, discover that “Oh! this is actually not a real webshop, but an art piece.” I also would have loved to expand our “product inventory”. We did want to add more than just 3 items for each category. But unfortunately, time did not allow for the creation of more visual assets. In the future, I imagine there to be at least 9 per category, enough for the user to scroll while browsing.
Overall, I am very satisfied with how our project turned out, and how well Katie and I were able to execute it. Our final product looked almost exactly how I imagined it to look in my head since day 1 and our initial rough sketch on graph paper,