The Design of Dissent

Preface

Thawra, or revolution. Design is an important part of voicing civil dissent towards the state a country is in. As a strong believer of creating a socially responsible and socially responsive design, I saw it as my duty to contribute to the overwhelming voice of dissent sparking across my country, Lebanon.

While opinions might vary, and while I understand that this is going to be a bit polarizing, I will state that I strongly believe that design should never take place in a vacuum. Design has a powerful ability to influence, inform, and when used maliciously misinform people. As a designer, I strongly believe that design should be a tool used for social empowerment and that designers should never shy away from being political when the end goal is to create a better world for all humans of all races, creeds, beliefs, and orientations.

Graphics

Social Media and Posters

These are designs created for several social media accounts across Twitter and Instagram as a part of the process of voicing dissent towards following the outbreak of popular protests as of 17 October 2019.

The State of Affairs

This first series takes on popular phrases heard throughout the initial phases of the protests between the 17th and 22nd of October. The issues highlighted the designs and illustrations try to go past the obvious phrase and points at different issues facing Lebanon.

The first design takes on the phrase "It's time to abort you". In Arabic, the actual meaning of this phrase signifies "it's time you make you fall". Using the play on word between the double meaning of the word Nsa’etkon, the design points at the fact that women across Lebanon are not given their complete rights over their own bodies.

The second design says "the dose finished", in this context, it’s a nod to a popular phrase during the protests "the morphine dose that kept us, the people, drugged no longer affects us". The design gives another nod towards a huge medical crisis occurring in Lebanon, where medical supplies are at risk of running out completely.

The third design plays on two different meanings: "The revolution is the pulse of the nation" and "The nation yelled out 'revolution'". This is one of those phrases that really brings out the beauty of Arabic as a language where depending on how you pronounce or stress the words, you've created a whole new meaning to the body of the text.

Design depicting a pink pill with a cedar tree engraved on it with a text in Arabic stating 'It's time for us to drop you'.
Sar Wa'et Nsa'etkon - It's Time to Drop You
Design depicting a pink pill with a cedar tree engraved on it with a text in Arabic stating 'It's time for us to drop you'.
A design depicting a syringe with pink fluid dripping out of it with a supporting text saying 'the dose finished'.
El Jor'a Kholset - The Dose Finished
A design depicting a syringe with pink fluid dripping out of it with a supporting text saying 'the dose finished'.
A circle with a heart beating monitor signal in the shape of a cedar tree with a supporting text stating 'The Revolution is the Pulse of the Nation'.
Al Thawra Nabad El Watan - The Pulse of the Nation
A circle with a heart beating monitor signal in the shape of a cedar tree with a supporting text stating 'The Revolution is the Pulse of the Nation'.

Oudak Ranan

This series takes on lyrics from a popular song by Fayrouz called "Oudak Ranan" ("Your Lute is Sonorous") as a basis for the text.

The first design depicts the usages of a pot, in reference to the "cacerolazo" protests. The line here says "Bang, keep banging, wake everyone up".

The second design uses a frying pan and ladle that depict the time (set at 8:00 pm) that protestors agreed to bang their pots to voice their dissent. The phrase here says "The night isn't made for sleep, the night is for staying up".

The phrase here states "You're the musician, you're the one with good taste, make them fly" which can also be translated as "You're the accurate one, you're the one with good taste, swat them".

A design depicting an illustration of a politician with a pot over his head being banged with a ladel
Deq dalak deq - Keep Banging
A design depicting an illustration of a politician with a pot over his head being banged with a ladel
A design illustrating a frying pan and ladel arranged to indicate 8:00pm, with a supporting text saying 'Night time isn't for sleep, but for staying up'.
El Layl Mesh Lal Nawm - Night Time isn't for Sleeping.
A design illustrating a frying pan and ladel arranged to indicate 8:00pm, with a supporting text saying 'Night time isn't for sleep, but for staying up'.
A design illustrating a bug with the shadow of a ladel hovering over it with a text stating 'You're accurate, swat at them'.
Tayerhon - Swat them.
A design illustrating a bug with the shadow of a ladel hovering over it with a text stating 'You're accurate, swat at them'.

No, YOU leave.

This design came as a reaction to a live speech by the President of Lebanon, where he said: "if the protestors cannot find a good person to represent them within the (current) state (political structure), then they should emigrate". Many protestors took the statement as a personal attack since the vast majority of Lebanese live in the diaspora. While the Presidency redacted the statement and tried to correct it, the damage had already been done among the local populace.

The numbers listed in the ticket hint at specific dates in the history of the current President's political career that was, to say the least - moments of failure.

A one way ticket designed to address a speech by the president with number alluding to important dates and events in the 90s.
Hela Ho Airways
A one way ticket designed to address a speech by the president with number alluding to important dates and events in the 90s.

Independence and Emancipation Day

A series designed in celebration of the Lebanese Independence Day in light of the popular uprising within Lebanon. The two images you see are the following: The Martyrs Statue (symbolic of Lebanon's independence), and a shadow of the woman who kicked off the revolution by literally kicking the bodyguard of a minister who was opening fire at the crowds.

Institutionalised Poverty.

This design came as a reaction to the news of the passing away of Naji Al Flaity on the 1st of December 2019, and in memory of George Zreik. These men were victims of the Lebanese state through its rampant corruption, fund siphoning, and nepotism that had for all intents and purposes institutionalised poverty.

The text states "Terrorising the people with threats of hunger and poverty is worse than terrorising them with weapons".

Final Thoughts

Many designers, and people alike, might say "Oh I don't like politics", but at the end of the day, politics is an integral part of our lives. Does everything need to be politicized? Of course not, but if you can help your fellow humans by highlighting issues that they're facing, then why not at least try to do so, especially if there are no constraints on your shoulders?

As visual communicators, I believe that we have a responsibility to highlight social issues when we are able to do so. Design can be a powerful tool that can empower people who are facing injustice regardless of their ethnicity, creed, sexuality, or their stance towards tabbouleh.

Physical

Exploring how experience design manifests within the physical world primarily in the form of architecture.

Intersection

Exploring experience design at the crossroads between the digital and the physical world, as well as mixed reality (MR) experiences.

Digital

Exploring how user experience design is typically understood, and how visual communication affects perception.