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.