Parsons School of Design
BFA Communication Design
Thesis 2021

Emily Yun
Cult of Cute

Why is America so obsessed with all things petite, Asian, and domesticated? What are the critical notions behind cuteness and, through its globalization, how has it evolved through mass consumption? These questions drove my personal investigation into a visual and semantic exploration of cuteness.

Cult of Cute encourages dialogue on the matter, as an aesthetic so harmless in nature becomes equally concerning. It uncovers contextual research that exposes this impulse as a form of escapism, indulgence, and the subversive tools of soft power. Cult of Cute looks into two cultural conceptions of the idea both Western and Kawaii as well as the globalization and consumption of this phenomenon. Inspired by past research, personal writing, and images, this project set out to create a sense of eeriness to reveal cute’s darker undertones.

As a designer, I want to generate a conversation on cute politics by adding tension to the matter. Through full spread images that include various types of cute objects, the book was made to feel like a journal, with kitsch as its factor to play into its easy consumption. Simultaneously, as viewers are lured in, they may also question their own relationship to cute’s attractive appeal. What is offered is a more critical perspective on this ever-popular aesthetic, promoting mindful reflection upon cute’s overconsumption in capitalism, its oversaturation in our media, and sometimes its harmful incorporation into identity politics.

(Red)

Dotun Abeshinbioke

Darina Abuzarova

Sung Hyun (Julie) Ahn

Anisa Al Raisi

Hazal Aysel

Vivek Bajaj

Sunayana Bali

Elliot Bohlen

Madison Brang

Allison Bynum

Rachel Chang

Lilliana Checo

Jizheng Chen

Lena Chen

Mi Chen

Raghav Chhabra

Shreya Chittaranjan

Christopher Chu

Shenny Chuang

Calen Chung

Mae Craford

Chengcheng Cui

Rebecca D'Agostino

Dani de los Santos

Nika Diomidovskaia

Aira Dolfo

Maya Eapen

Yaron Erkin

Louis Falisse

Xiaoke Fei

Bernadette Figueroa

Shih-Ju Fu

Ana Furtado

Martina Gallo

Chenxi (Lisa) Gao

Sierra Glicker

Danielle Beatriz Go

Danni Gomez

QingYing (Mimi) Guan

Peiru Guo

Siyu Hang

Trudy Hoang

Will Howell

Annie Hua

Wallis Huang

Charis Huling

Sana Jamali

Aeva Karlsrud

Lake Kennedy

Byunghyun Kim

Destiny Kim

Yeji Kim

Zen Koo

Padmaja Kothari

McKayla Lankau

Hyunseung Maddie Lee

Jade Lee

Jiwoo Lee

Juna Lee

Victoria Lee

Emma Lepore

Scarlet Li

Sunny Li

Sohyunn Lim

Misty Lin

Stephanie Lin

Yu Tong Tiffany Ling

Lilian Liu

Phoebe Lo

Charlotte Lomas

Kevin Loumeau

Wen Hsin Lu

Dirm Luawo

Peiyun Luo

Youran Mao

Imani McIntosh

Rebecca Mesonjnik

Velimar Molina

Matilde Sofia Monti

Gavin Mullally

Syalsabila Karissa Munaf

Michael Mungai

Sanjana Navar

Katelyn Paik

Aileen Pan

Chanjoo Tiffany Park

Namjoon Park

Storey Pearson

Mariel Quadrino

Simran Rao

Felitasari (Tata) Rekso

Yasmin Rozmee

Rainier Salas

Julia Sams

Eva Serrano Reisner

Anvita Shah

Suditi Shah

Amal Shaheedi

Joyce Shi

Samantha Simotas

Claira Smith

Hyunji Song

Carolina Stierli de Abreu

Niharika Sundarigari

Rachael Tomaszewski

Tiffany Tong

Svasti Ujagar

Ariana Ushiki

Diana Victoreen

Yiqi Wang

Yutong Wang

Zheng Wang

Jasmine Wei

Savannah West

Summer Wojtas

Jacquelyn Wu

Ricky Xie

Connie Xu

Karrie Xu

Ellen Yang

Jacqueline Yang

Emily Yun

Monique Zeitouny Dayan

Cecilia Zhang

Cheryl Zhang

Claire Zhang