Design & Politics: Rewriting the American Dream

Design & Politics: "Rewriting the american Dream"

As part of the Design & Politics workshop taught by faculty Manuel Toscano and Natalie Balthrop, on election day 2016, the students of the MFA Products of Design were out on the streets of New York City, creating design interventions around politics and citizenship. Alexia and her team created an intervention to encourage the public to rewrite the "American Dream."

The Challenge

The American dream as we know it—owning a house, with a white picked fence, a family and a pet—is no longer accessible or a desired outcome for a lot of Americans. As a team we asked ourselves the question: how can we enable the public to rethink the American dream according to their beliefs and desires as citizens of this country?

Our Solution

Rewrite The Dream came together as a way to proclaim a new American dream. On a stage, in front of the public, groups and individuals stepped up to shout their own ambitions out into the world. And while the American dream can no longer take hold in a unified belief of the atomic family, high society opportunity, and the white picket fence, we gathered to show that we can still join in support of each person’s individual dreams.

It started with just a few questions: What are three material things you want in your life? What are three non-material goals you have? And with those answers, a dream came to be in the form of a Mad-Lib. Participants could then take their dream up to the stage and read it aloud for all to hear. Sometimes non-sensical and sometimes very revealing, this comedic approach to co-creating a new dream led to a fun exposure of all the things we have in common. There were aspirations, big and little, fears, shared hobbies, and common interests. And everyone had a few material values. Everyone except our friend Gina—who had apparently achieved everything she wanted in life! Her Mad-Lib read, “the one thing holding me back from achieving my dreams is (material noun) -nothing-.”


Details and Process

Team: Alexia Cohen, Xu Meng Mou, Kevin Cook, Andrew Schlesinger, Josh Corn, Will Lentz
Location: Tenth Ave. Square and Overlook on the High Line, New York, NY.