In April 2013, I had the opportunity of taking part in the Integrated Knowledge Exhibition at Somerset House. The aim of the exhibition was to show the benefits and possibilities that could be achieved from combining design and design thinking with other disciplines.
My team was paired up with Rachel Joyce, a PhD student from King’s College Dickson Poon School of Law. Rachel’s PhD thesis discusses the crimes against humanity committed after the Sri Lankan Civil War (July 1983 - May 2009), urging the need for government accountability as it is creating a state of terror. She argues reconciliation and the rebuilding of the nation is happening on Sinhalese terms, as Tamil citizens (the ethnic minority) are restricted from talking and remembering their dead. Additionally there is no freedom of information within the country which adds on to the marginalisation of the Tamils.
As Communication designers, myself and my team mates (Kyung Hee Beak, Sebin Yang and Dan Luo) felt it best to first understand how the Tamils had become marginalised, this resulted in the production of a visualised timeline.
During this process, we also discovered the Tamils had been brought from India into Sri Lanka by their former colonising masters to work on the tea and coffee plantations; this perceived ‘favouritism’ was the foundation of the tensions between the two ethnicities. Focusing on this, we decided that tea had to be the centre of our visualisation. This resulted in the creation of a teabag packaging series that expressed the pain and horror, these Tamil citizens were experiencing.
One of the challenges, we faced as a team was deciding how to communicate the words used in a manner that was interesting, inviting yet provoking to the viewer. The packaging system was the best solution as the soiling of the word on the packaging with tea, demonstrated that this was where the suffering began.