SeenBakken & Bæck
• Date added
24 March 2023
Seen is a project that was started by a group of East and South East Asians in the European design industry, which was initiated as a response to pandemic-triggered racism. Through a collection of text conversations, the project explores the interplay between race, ethnicity, and their creative practices and careers.
The project was developed by Listya Amelia, Ezekiel Aquino, My Kim Bui, Amelie Dinh, Nathalie De Vallière, Annabel Lake, and Kalok Yeung as part of a project by technology-driven design studio Bakken & Bæck.
Nathalie de Vallière
Typefaces in Use
Seen contributes to the discussion around Asian identities that gained momentum during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but is otherwise often overlooked. The project explores how these identities intersect with people’s professional lives, leveraging the potency of digital design, creative development, and visual expression to convey personal stories and experiences, resulting in a playful and nuanced approach to a typically weighty topic.
“The devices are our way of representing the multiplicity of perspectives and feelings that we are holding within the space. Each device is distinct, just as each conversation is distinct. Together, the devices represent a collection of diverse but connected reflections on our identities and creative practices.”
Seen is its own little universe, a space unto itself. The project references early messengers (e.g. MSN, AOL) and Y2K aesthetics. Both speculative and familiar, the softness and lightness of the space makes the stories more accessible, welcoming others into the conversation.
The project's use of the direct message format reflects the ongoing process of navigating identities in the design industry, which often requires collective sense-making and is constantly evolving. Texts are not intended to be authoritative or static; instead, they capture the perspective, mood, or experience of a particular day and serve as a source of support. Most importantly, these direct messages provide a framework for a wide range of experiences and perspectives.
The first set of conversations is just the beginning, with more conversations planned for the future.
“Drawing from our childhoods, we referenced the handheld, magical devices that you often see in anime — devices that feel personal, cherished and can even open up new worlds. We wanted to create devices that evoked the same feeling, like a portal into something a bit hidden, an invitation into intimate conversations you may not have access to otherwise.”