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Design As Catalyst

Chuhan Chen

Social awkwardness is the feeling when we believe that our desire for being accepted by others is threatened in a given situation. 

A 2021 study of 240 U.S. adults found that social awkwardness symptoms significantly increased due to the COVID shutdowns. This is because social skills are like muscles that loss from lack of use. 

From an evolutionary perspective, we are social beings. Feeling anxious in social situations reminds us to pay attention to the effects of our behavior. So, not only is it normal to feel awkward or socially anxious sometimes, but it is also helpful.

Show Location: Battersea campus: Studio Building, Third floor

Chuhan Chen is a London based Chinese designer, currently pursuing MA Design Products at the Royal College of Art, London.

Her work during her Masters at the Royal College of Art has primarily been on research social issues. She designs objects as a mediator to intervenes people's psychology, and change people's behavior and interaction.

Embrace Awkwardness consists of three wearable objects aiming to expose social awkwardness in our life.

Every single one of us is now socially awkward to a certain extent after pandemic. But people may be not willing to acknowledge that they are socially inept and have a strong drive to avoid embarrassment.

But the way to get through awkwardness is to accept that we may sometimes get uncomfortable in social situations instead of fighting against it.

Eye contact is an important social skill. However, long time eye contact makes people feel awkward because that increases self-awareness. This small TV plays videos to attract the other people's eye to avoid long time eye contact.


Subconsciously, we see silence as having a non-cooperative attitude and rejection. Among English speakers, it only takes four seconds for a silence to feel unsettling. This badge helps to break awkward silence in conversation.

As social beings, socialising is important. But many people now experience less willingness to socialize. The idea of this earmuff is like when people use headphones or cellphones to make it clear that they’re not up for socializing.


clay, feather, metal spray, metal wire, rubber tube, silicon, arduino