‘Disonancia Doméstica’ by delao: exploring cognitive dissonance through a post-colonial lens


‘Disonancia Doméstica’ by delaO design studio is a collection of home electronics that challenges and explores the cognitive dissonance pervading Mexican culture. Specifically, the studio critiques the dualistic life of a ‘Mestizo’ — a Mexican of both European and Indian American ancestry — through a post-colonial lens. 


‘As Mestizos live on a permanent contradiction of their human condition, they constantly shape their identity to cope with that mental conflict. The contradictions and attitudes we adopt to avoid psychological discomfort are embedded so deeply in our culture that we no longer see it as what it is: a dissonance. [it is] a mix of human states, wherein one hand we feel melancholy-laziness-fatality-inferiority, and violence-sentimentality-resentment-evasion in the other,’  shares the team. 

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ahorita clock



As such, delaO (see more here) opted for a critical design approach that moves away from commercial gain and mobilizes debate. Its vehicle of expression was electric households, or ‘electrodomésticos’. By definition, an ‘electrodoméstico’ is an artifact that functions with electricity, and its whole purpose is to perform and facilitate daily chores. In other words, it is a ‘tangible promise that through science, technology, and social organization, the improved human condition is achievable. [It] is a symbol of a promise of progress that never finishes arriving.’ 


Mexico, however, lives in a constant ‘what-could-be-but-never-will-be’ state of cultural flux, where post-colonial redemption never arrives. By using critical design tactics, delaO translated some of those cultural behaviors into interactive functions of electronic house appliances; each design from the collection subtly combines vintage industrial character with rich Mexican aesthetics. 

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de mentira lock



AHORITA CLOCK and de mentira lock


The first ‘Disonancia Doméstica’ object is the AHORITA CLOCK which nods to Mexicans’ perception of time. According to delaO, this perception is linked to ‘a post-colonial attitude of indifference and the avoidance of responsibility, especially towards authority, as it forces us to do what we don’t want to do. The clock has always been a measuring instrument that marks time and, therefore, commitment, which Mexicans dread so much. So we designed a clock that marks the ambiguous time with which we feel most comfortable, lengthening the arrival of the future to enjoy the present.’


Aside from time, Mexicans also experience constant adversity that forges security instincts. As a result, they’re familiar with the art of deception and look out for it to survive. The DE MENTIRA LOCK addresses that behavior; it features four buttons that, at first glance, look intimidating, but in reality, can unlock the handle by simply pressing any one of them.

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gandalla speaker and hubiera display


Meanwhile, the GANDALLA SPEAKER evokes the resentful attitude of a ‘gandalla’ — a person who seeks advantage and immediate personal benefit at the expense of others, a strong phenomenon rooted in Mexican history. delaO recreated that behavior through a speaker that enables users to listen to their favorite music anywhere, expanding their personal space and invading others’ in the process.


Finally, the HUBIERA DISPLAY (‘hubiera’ for ‘would have’) nods to everything that could have been but never did. ‘Our history, full of falls and tragedies, has pushed us Mexicans to use this verb a lot. We fantasize about things that never happened and never will, but it comforts us through possibility,’ explains the studio. In line with those thoughts, the display shows the value of a Mexican peso against 1 USD, reminding users of how much this currency could have been worth had it not been devalued in the 1990s.

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gandalla speaker

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hubiera display

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project info:


name: Disonancia Doméstica
design: delaO design studio



designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom