Bad Little Brother

pleasure ︎ humor ︎ glamour

Bad Little Brother is a design project based in Brooklyn, NY and Boston, MA. We collaborate with spatial designers, artists, fashion designers,  organizers and activists, comedians, and other performers. We read and write. We are not a non-profit or a design office. We do design and research but we are not design research. Or, we are design research but very, very pretty.

Bad Little Brother was started in 2016 by Julie Shapiro and Ben Barsotti Scott. Scroll down ︎︎︎ to see our recent work or read more about us here︎

xoxo BLB

How can we have fun in a crisis? A manifesto (ongoing). Architectural spaces are complicit in the formation of a political subject. Bathhouses, bathrooms, night clubs, stage sets, cruising grounds, demonstrations, parades: these are important and under-theorized architectural sites of communal pleasure and care. ︎ They fail and refuse to register with prevailing modes of architectural measurement. They fail and refuse to register as architecture, but embody its yet-unrealized potential to make something else. 

We are sick of universalizing, masculinist architectural theories that misappropriate scientific language to deny the specific material effects of an inequitable society. ︎ We are sick of the scarcity thinking, austerity, and cynicism of neoliberal design institutions. We refuse design pedagogies that dismiss questions of care, coalition-building, and political resistance as lacking rigor. We call instead for an aesthetics of abundance. We call for the abolition of prisons and policing and the architecture that enables them. We call for designers and theorists to practice refusal.1 

We reject ideas of archetype, originality, purity, and nature that pervade the discourses of spatial design, and seek instead a lively ethos of improvisation, conditionality, tenderness, incompleteness, and humor. ︎ We don’t pathologize sadness or demand resolution. We embrace the dizzying queer and pleasant dangers of mirth and mischief, of transformation, of temporary constructions,2 of hedonism,3 of differences that can’t be assimilated,4 and of excesses that can’t be recuperated.5
We want to make history: we want to recover histories of space-making as individual and collective resistance, experimentation, and communal pleasure. Design can be an invitation to a party, and it can be an invitation to repair and care. ︎

(1) Tina Campt, “Black Visuality and the Practice of Refusal.” Women & Performance, February 25, 2019.

(2) Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner, "Sex in Public." Critical Inquiry 24, no. 2 (Winter 1998): 547-566.
. (3) Kate Soper. “Alternative Hedonism: Cultural Theory and the Role of Aesthetic Revisioning.” Cultural Studies 22, Issue 5 (2008): 567-587.

(4) Timothy Morton. “Queer Ecology.” PMLA Vol. 125, No. 2 (March 2010): 273-282.
(5) John Champagne. “Gay Pornography and Nonproductive Expenditure.” The Ethics of Marginality: A New Approach to Gay Studies, University of Minnesota Press, 1995, pp. 28–56.

NEW! ︎

1. Bad Little Brother can host: Queer Ecology

call for participants

Bad Little Brother is pleased to convene a new online reading group for designers and others interested in queer ecology and queer ecocriticism! Calling now for interested participants! Reach out to us now for more information.︎

2. Unrestrooms, an unfinished survey of gender and public space

Exhibition, 2018

Gender is done in the restroom. Public restrooms are sites of personal and political transformation. Equitable access to restrooms by people of all genders ensures visibility and full participation in democratic society.
Drawing from contemporary queer and feminist theories of gender, Unrestrooms, an unfinished survey of gender and public space features recent architectural proposals that address the public restroom as a  public space that participates in the “sustained, corporeal project” of gender︎︎ and the constitution of gendered subjectivities. The exhibition features new works by emerging designers addressing the public restroom as a site of realized and potential political resistance by feminist, queer, trans, gender non-conforming, and gendered publics. Featured projects range scales from the single stall to the city, reimagining the disavowed architectural space of the toilet as a site for subversion, gender creativity, pleasure, and political coalition-building. Contributors are students and recent graduates of North American schools of design, including Columbia GSAPP, Harvard GSD, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Virginia, and University of Waterloo.

Unrestrooms ran from March 2nd–31st at Front/Space︎︎, a noncommercial storefront gallery in the Crossroads district of Kansas City, MO. The exhibition featured a site-specific installation by Bad Little Brother, which rendered the standard dimensions of public toilet stalls in outrageous, glittering tinsel. The exhibition included a reading room with resources on gender in architecture, case studies in public restroom design, and local resources and services for LGBTQIA+ and TGNC publics.

On March 31st, 2018, Bad Little Brother and Front/Space partnered with the Kansas City Center for Inclusion︎︎ to present a panel discussion︎︎ on inclusive restroom design. The panel brought together local architects and activists to discuss recent developments in inclusive restroom design, with a particular focus on equitable and just access among trans and gender non-conforming users.

Unrestrooms was organized through an open call to students and recent graduates of spatial design disciplines. Read the call for contributions here︎︎.

Press: KCUR: At an Exhibit in Kansas City, Designers Begin Solving America’s Bathroom Problem︎︎


A Discussion of Inclusive Restroom Design

Saturday, March 31st, 2018
Kansas City Center for Inclusion︎
3911 Main St, KCMO 64111

Front/Space and Bad Little Brother partnered with the Kansas City Center for Inclusion to present a panel discussion on public restroom design.
Held on March 31st, the Trans Day of Visibility, this panel brought together architects, activists, and advocates to discuss restroom rights among trans and gender-non-conforming (TGNC) users. Panelists addressed recent developments in restroom access and inclusive design initiatives at colleges and universities, medical facilities, and cultural institutions in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Participating designers placed contemporary restroom design in context of historical analysis, case studies, and current research.
This panel discussion was organized in conjunction with Unrestrooms, an unfinished survey of gender and public space. Samantha Ruggles moderated.

Unrestrooms Stool

Bad Little Brother designed the stool to furnish the reading room for Unrestrooms. The stool is composed of a standard padded toilet seat (a nod to the exhibition’s interest in comfort and “rest”) and IKEA Marius stools from Front/Space’s collection.

We cherish the concept of the IKEA “hack,” as well as the dadaist traditions of assemblage. The padded lid can remain closed, or flip up to mimic a chair back. On the night of the exhibition opening, volunteers staffed the reading room to answer questions about restroom rights and local resources for LGBTQIA+ and TGNC folks.

Unrestrooms reading list

This is the working list of readings and resources for Unrestrooms. You can view and comment on this document here︎︎
You can use the tabs at the bottom of the document to navigate across topics.

Selected articles, zines, books, and resources were included in the “reading room” area of Unrestrooms. Readings were crowdsourced from contributors to the Unrestrooms exhibition and others.


©Bad Little Brother 2020