All ideas streamlined into a single flow of creativity. Smiltė.

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Chinatown Vernacular Research Project


A year-long research project that uncovers the formal visual qualities of commercial signage in Philadelphia’s Chinatown. The intention of this book is to both compile my research into one physical package, as well as to reinterpret signs and awnings as a vernacular design medium that reflects the aesthetic sensibilities and pragmatic design application of its community. I also hope by celebrating a design tradition that exists outside modernist principles, there is an opportunity to question the unwritten reverence designers give to modernism and Eurocentric design aesthetics. 


The design of the book itself reflects the aesthetic styles of signs. I purposely used typefaces and color schemes that were either directly found or inspired by the signs I looked at. Outside of just design criticism and research, this project serves as an accidental loveletter to Chinatowns as neighborhoods that serve and home Chinese and Asian American communities.