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Yarden Levy

Hi! I am Yarden (not pronounced like garden), I am a V&A/RCA History of Design MA student, currently researching the gendering of fashion design education. After completing my undergrad in fashion design at Shenkar College, Israel, I worked for two years for Rose Archive for Fashion and Textile, a collection held by Shenkar College. During my work there, I served as an archivist, a digital and social media manager, assisted with exhibitions the archive took part in and gave classes to students and visitors. I then realised how passionate I am to gain and share knowledge through material culture. With this realisation in mind, I started the History of Design program, which allows its students to learn history through design objects while widening the scope of what a design object is.  

Since moving to London, I have been interning and working for Kerry Taylor Auctions, where I assist with photoshoots for the auctions’ catalogues, preparation for auctions, and assist clients in the pre-auction viewings. I am also the co-editor of the up and coming Unmaking Things, a History of Design blog, where us students are going to share our smaller bites of interest and research, in a fun and inclusive way.  

Main image credit: Left: Philippe Boulakia, Tsabar Containers (Hummus on the Right), 1990s, Shenkar’s Institution for Documentation and Research of Design in Israel, Israel. Right: Typical Hummus Aisle in an Israeli Supermarket, Screenshot From a News Clip About Hummus, Walla! News.




Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

As a person who comes from a place that holds colonial values and is denying the freedom of another nation, I try to use my privilege of studying in the V&A/RCA to focus my research interests on post-colonial, or in the Israeli case, post-Zionist, discourses. My previous research, for example, was tracking the change made in hummus packages and advertisements in Israel from the establishment of Israel to the present day. This every day, mass-consumed object is feeding its consumer with ill histories of oppression, exclusion and endless efforts of defining Israeliness. Currently, I am writing my dissertation about Shenkar College’s fashion department, where I studied. I wish to answer the question of how the fashion department is designing the ideal fashion design student through gendered stereotypes. My research focuses mostly on Israeli intersectionality and on the complexities of gender in an unsettling place like

Image credit: Me as an archivist in the wild, photo by Lee Barbu.

Quarantine, lockdown, social and physical distancing, pandemic: words we usually only encounter in dystopian literature and movies have become the defining motto of our lives. As we adjust to life under new rules, we, as MA students on the Royal College of Art and Victoria and Albert Museum’s History of Design programme, like everyone else, have had to radically alter our approach to studying and working.

As first-year students, our contributions to RCA2020 form a work-in-progress encounter with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This serves as a springboard for collecting, discussing and sharing ideas on the topic of Digital Discomforts. The project explores issues brought about by the impact of digitization and the web, such as structural inequalities in digital access, the design of sites and content encountered online, user experiences in the internet and evolving conversation channels.

Resulting from intense weeks of collaborative work, the following diagrams are representations of our practice as design historians, intended to reflect real-life corridor-conversations we would have usually had in person as part of our studies. Impromptu, spontaneous and intellectually unpredictable these conversations embrace spelling mistakes and thematic jumps as characteristic of the method of communication. Our diagrams show the twists and turns of such informal, creative encounters. You may find them sometimes difficult to navigate, or even difficult to read. This is a deliberate dramatisation of the experience of digital inequality, bringing with it digital discomfort.

In Collaboration with:

coronavirusCOVID-19dating appsDecolonisingdigital discomfortsDisabilityHistoriesLockdownRemote Working
Launch Project

A digital discussion on how digital spaces can continue a legacy of colonisation and how this can be challenged, represented in mapped text and multiple languages

This discussion examined the ways in which the digital creates and reinforces acts of colonisation. Concerns that were raised include algorithm suggestions that amplify or silence the cultures and identities of minority groups; the sources from which dominant systems are produced (often from the Global North); how digital laws facilitate the growth of alt-right communities; and the blanket model of ‘the user’ for whom tech companies design their codes. In probing the discomforts and violences brought about by digital design, students’ texts foreground the importance for design historians and researchers to demand and contribute to actionable change at both a micro (altering open-source codes) and macro (targeting large tech conglomerates) level. As viewers of this map, you may experience exclusion - the English language translations may be too small for you to read, for example - in this way we aim to evoke the digital discomfort of minority groups.

A digital discussion on the accessibility of libraries during lockdown and the strengths and failures of their digital resources, represented in a mapped conversation

Libraries' Biases and Discomforts: Angie Applegate and Yarden Levy
Despite the availability of digital repositories, physical libraries and archives have remained an essential asset for design historians. This conversation unravelled the types of discomforts that students have experienced as a result of a lack of access to these resources. On the one hand, it revealed the ways in which design historians have adapted their research methods in order to accommodate this lack. These resources and dealing with catalogue algorithms which promote certain terms and languages over others. Critically, the conversation highlighted the need to question the disproportionate distribution of knowledge in the digital archive, and how digital libraries and archives can act to eradicate these biases.

Swipe right, swipe left? A digital discussion on the experience of dating apps and how design affects experience, represented through text and graphics.

There is an ever-increasing panorama of dating apps, each with their own signature approach towards connecting strangers online. What sets each app apart can either be an alluring concept (c.f. Hinge’s ‘The dating app designed to be deleted’), or innovative features and interfaces (the infamous swipe function). Often, what determines the success of these apps is a claim to have uniquely overcome the discomforts behind online dating. In this conversation, students discuss the extent to which the design of dating apps have influenced the dating landscape and the ways in which gender, sexuality, and geographies shape the individual user’s experience.

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