Subscription Model: Side Table

Figure 1: Side Table and its decorated cable


Subscription Model explores the increasing popularity of “subscription services”, “unboxing videos,” and “rental fashion” as an emerging lifestyle, where subscribers perpetually try out new products but never buy. The project proposes a new furniture ‘type’, embedding our digital habits routines within a physical form.
The side table acts as a media that connects the life and the lifestyle. The side table maps the unboxing of a subscription box to the gesture of opening a drawer.


Early experiement on “trying out” and luxurious life style in Openframeworks

Figure 2: shooting unboxing videos; wiring the hardwares

Figure 3: Baking sculpey clay; coloring

Figure 4: Sculpey Close up

Figure 5: programing
Key Questions
How media trend impact the culture imagery of self?  How the hybrid existence of the side table symbolize our being as cyborgs? How is outsourcing labor a sign for social status and class?

Products are advertised as a way to access upgraded lifestyle, social status, and a better self.  In turn, the idea of “self” become something can be bought and sold. I’m investigating how media, as a information technology, reinforce hegmonic social scripts by producing the “ideal” selfs.
One of the selling points of subscription model is the privilege of labor outsourcing, which signifies a particular social status (Hu, 2019). Companies also hide their mass produced nature and algorithmically generated tastes. I’m challenging technologies role in propagating the “unashamed hedonism” and “performing selfs” (Featherstone).

“...within consumerism the body has not only become the medium and focus of worldly success and failure, but it is also the source of pleasure and discipline, love and horror - seemingly lncompatable sensations whose uneasy co-existence can be Illustrated by the way in which the U.S. bestsellers list has been recently been dominated by exotic cook books and sexual manuals on the one hand and diet and exercise books on the other.” - Mike Featherstone.

Shen and I split the works, she concentrated on the making of the furniture, I worked on the content that’s inside the drawer. I found Featherstone’s quote guiding me through the process of making the medias. To me, the media selection should be a mix of luxurious product and preview of lifestyles. In our design, we’re embracing the augmented technology as part of the mundane future. By decorating the cables in figure 1, we are putting a headlight on the technology itself.

This project allow me to look at how technology shape the expression of social bodies. 61% of the consumers of subscription box are female. The nature of this issue is also highly gendered, as most of the subscription products are designed to fit feminine taste.

Distance Sensor
Force sensing resistor