Crafting Desire

Rising Lai

Keywords: Material culture, Queer, Craft and design

Internship: Studio Chris Kabel
Read Thesis,,

Social values are materialised through craft, and comprise our material culture.

Through objects, we carry and inherit social values, habits and traditions that are mediated by the object. The Red Sleep Bed (紅眠床) is a traditional Taiwanese bed which portrays the ideal marriage, one between two people based upon social values and ideologies ingrained in normative gender roles, heterosexuality, and patriarchal relations. The bed is embellished with stories carved into the wooden panels that convey these ideologies and traditions.

How can I, as a queer person, relate to the Red Sleep Bed and what it represents? With this project, I explored how the Red Sleep Bed is made by craftsmen in Taiwan, and how its symbols and stories uphold patriarchial relations. By rereading canonical Taiwanese/Han Chinese novels, I came upon queer stories and desires contained within these texts even though they are typically overlooked, since they are read and taught to us in schools through a patriarchal lens. Based on these stories and histories, I crafted new narratives and symbols for the Red Sleep Bed to include queer desires and perspectives.

By redesigning the bed as an open structure and surface, I consider this version of the Red Sleep Bed to be an open archive, one to which new stories and desires can be added. Through this project, I hope to pass on a more inclusive heritage and to share the (hi)stories and relations of queer communities.

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