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Do as a pirate does

Thesis, ongoing...

This is a thesis about pirates and piracy. Designers hate piracy. We were told pirates are the natural enemy of designers and the corruption of this industry. Nevertheless, I still decided to choose piracy as my topic because I believe that we have to challenge what we believed in order to make changes.

Thesis: Text

“Inventors were not heroes at all, but everymen. ”

Adrian Johns, Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates

Thesis: Quote

During my studies as an industrial designer, I gradually realize that the design world is a bubble. I have witnessed the continuous reinforcement of this bubble using difficult and confusing tactics and jargon, like design thinking. All the above are marketing tools that aim to emphasize the value of design and further increase its commercial value. While we’re putting designers on a pedestal and heroizing them, the voice of users is neglected at the same time. 
But the design industry is developing to be more inclusive and user-centered, from the most common approach co-creation to community-centered design, then to some more extreme ones, like open-source design. The conversation about bringing democracy to the practice is becoming more and more mainstream. However, even though all of the approaches are challenging the unbalanced power structure between designers and consumers, none have made a significant change in the design world, where users are still considered as mindless consumers. When facing a wicked problem like this, we have no choice but to be radical and subversive.

Thesis: Text

“No, you can’t force other people to change. You can, however, change just about everything else. And usually, that’s enough.”

Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit

Thesis: Quote

The aim of this thesis is not to prove piracy is good, but to see piracy critically and use piracy for good. Piracy is defined as the unauthorized use or reproduction of someone’s production, invention. Many associate piracy with stealing or poor-quality product, and they consider pirating as counterfeiting. But pirating is much more than that, it is more honest. When you go to New York City’s Canal Street, the center of bootlegs, to buy a “Chanel” bag, you know it’s not going to be real Chanel. Piracy can be used for good purposes. Most people in their student days have used pirated software at least once. It creates accessibility, especially to those who are neglected by large corporations. Piracy could be used as a tool for injustice.

In this thesis, I will be a pirate myself to “hack” into the design industry and address the problem of imbalance between designers and users, bringing a more inclusive future. This thesis can be summarized into a term, Do as a pirate does. I will design products to encourage people to act like a pirate, to critique designs, and invite more people to build, make and design. I will also pirate the way pirates behave and apply it to make a formerly exclusive industry more inclusive.

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System Map

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Zekun's thesis process book - Zekun 2.0.jpg
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Unauthorized Collab


Service Design

Unauthorized Collab believes that fashion products should not be created only for a small number of people. We “collab” with various brands to taylor DIY kits which include patterns, materials and instructions to guide you in making any fashion item.



UX & Service Design

This is an ongoing project. The Outworks is an underground market for non-professional artists to sell their works on the street, which at the same time creates an exciting but safe experience for customers to purchase the artwork they desire.

Masterly Tool Collection


Product Design

This is an ongoing project. Before famous designers' chairs became design symbols, they were all designs for utility to bring comfort to people's lives. Has the design industry gone so far that it worships famous designers more than people's need?

Thesis: Projects


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Thesis: HTML Embed


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Thesis: Video
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