Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Industrial Design


Industrial Design

First Advisor

Khipra Nichols

Second Advisor

Amy Leidtke

Third Advisor

Joy Ko


Zixin lost her phone and she went on a journey with a girl to find it. During the journey, they collected cellphones to let these machines get a good rest; they explored a sandwich city and took a risk to follow an insect who ate people’s profiles. They were trapped in a forest of lies and heard about lots of silly questions, etc. After experiencing these weird adventures, Zixin found a new friend underground and dove into a magic river to live with her.

The Impractical Community is a magic realist fiction that reveals the disadvantages of our technology in modern communication. The story is based on the real experiments. All the observatories from this project are transformed to fantasies. In the real world, the project started off satisfied with our technology revolutions, but changed direction because of my concern about the changing of our life habits and personalities. It then continued exploring to find our true satisfaction by being connected. The project offers people two experimental designs in the end. They suggest people sit down and spend their time, effort and courage to be physically “connected”. In the future, physical communication should benefit people in collaboration with urban planning, space design, activity design, and advertising.

Modern communication is a collaboration of the internet, digital devices, and different virtual tools. Technology makes our communication significantly different than 20 years ago. We created the technology because we wanted to have better communication. However, with these new developments, we are facing numerous dazzling methods to talk.

We now have social media to contact anyone in the world. We have more exposure but less privacy. We are more intent to share and we are forced to share. We choose a name and profile for ourselves. We can speak to someone in one second. We have more efficiency across long distances.

We create a dream world for our previous selves and we start questioning our shallow satisfaction. With these pretty and cheap gratifications, I am much more afraid of real life communication.

In 2011, the time I went to the college, I got my first cellphone and I became free to use the internet everyday at any time. I was crazy about social media and spent all my data on posting and reading other people’s posts. Four years later, I started feeling tired of the “posting” and become a lurker. Two years after becoming a lurker, I started to try to escape from social media and virtual communication. At this time, I suddenly found myself much more afraid of real life communication. I thought I could live without technology and go back to the old days that I talked to people in person. But the fact is, I can never do that again. My mom is using cellphones and social medias to talk to me, my friends as well. During the time I am offline, I am abandoned by the world. The worst thing is, when I meet with people in person, I find I don’t know how to talk or how to behave at all. I was too reliant on the internet.



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