Preface

I created this project during one of the most trying and turbulent times of my life. This capstone is a culmination of my studies in the Design Media Arts program at UCLA, as well as the past four years of finding my identity, voice, and true passions as a designer and person.

The goal was to make something communal, romantic, introspective, raw, and beautiful. I also really wanted to dive deep into the research, and in that process, discovered a whole world of like-minded people, learned about new and old tools, and drew unexpected connections between different artists, designers, and their works.

Developing this capstone has been quite the journey, marked by lots of risk-taking, explaining my thesis (surprisingly hard), asking good questions (also surprisingly hard), and one last big “follow my heart” moment.

It’s a joy to be able to share this with you.

Introduction

We are starting to live more and more of our lives in the virtual space. Some would go so far as to say that there is pretty much no distinction between our life in virtual and physical space. I don’t know how useful it is to determine whether this reality is a good thing or bad thing, but it’s certainly true that we all make some sort of a home for ourselves on the Internet.

We are embodied within each web space that we enter. Our habits, mannerisms, preferences, and quirks manifest themselves in the way we behave within websites. Our dwelling within these web spaces is no less physical than our presence in actual rooms. We invest time and physical, mental, and emotional energy. Like actual rooms within our home, these web spaces have a real, physical impact on our wellbeing. Each space creates a certain feeling within its boundaries, through its structure, contents, and aesthetics. Some websites feel more welcoming and sheltering, and some are aggressive and cold. Some websites provide resources to people in need, some manipulate people into viewing as many ads as possible. Some are quiet, some are loud. Some are interested in people, and some are interested in products.

Creating this collection of web spaces is important to me because the qualities of smallness, quietness, and slowness are generally not valued in our culture. Not all of our experience in virtual space has to be so calculated, functional, profitable, or maximizing efficiency. There ought to be a greater appreciation of places that don’t draw attention to themselves, that have no specific desired interaction, that don’t pressure the visitor to be any certain way, and that simply communicate basic information from one person in the world to another. All of this tends to get lost in the process of making something “user-friendly.”

Behind each of these kinds of web spaces, there are also individuals who are building them with their own hands. Most websites we visit these days are put up by companies and organizations with complex motivations and incentives. To me, there is a certain beauty in the singular, unobscured intention of an individual who creates a website to share themselves with the world.

I hope this project can help increase your appreciation for these kinds of places and their creators.

A Website Is a Room is an ode to slow and quiet corners of the Internet that provide a safe refuge for our physical bodies.