In class last Wednesday, Mimi brought in photos that represent “freedom,” and one of the photos was of a suburban neighborhood with a classic American family. In the group activity, our team reimagined the concept of “suburbia” to represent a different connotation to freedom. In the 50’s, the idealized image of working hard in order to move out of the city and move into a suburban lifestyle to raise a family became popularized. We thought about the idea of finding refuge and freedom away from the city into suburbia, where people settle down to raise a family. This idea was heavily advertised in the 1950s, often being idealistically depicted as a utopia for the family man to spend time with his wife and children. This communicates the idea of economic freedom where one has the choice to choose where he settles, and it places the suburban lifestyle as a pinnacle of achievement. We found the colors and the stylized happiness shown in the image to be most effectively appealing, as it gives the viewer a sense of “don’t you want that?” The colors further this romanticized idea, which fuels people’s dreams of wanting to achieve it. Also, the usual connotation suburbs have is that families live there. In our outcome, we cut out the family members and left the father in the image as if he was alone. We wanted to reimagine the division behind the concepts of families living in the suburbs and single people living in the city. It can also be seen as if the man is finally “free from the burdens of the family.”

With our proposed redesign, we decided to challenge this idea of freedom within suburbia and the romanticized ideal lifestyle.

By Sophia Kim, Sabrina Zhai, Mimi Jiao, Meijie Hu