Design for Invisibility


“Designing for Invisibility”, seeks to imagine new design paradigms that are cognizant of the interplay between the formal and informal. Informal communities around the world look to avoid the panoptic gaze of the state and other powerful entities, with their invisibility intrinsically intertwined with their political, social, and economic freedom.

This project seeks to understand how we can protect vulnerable citizens in the context of mass surveillance.

Existing Design Project: Social Ciphering

Around the world, communities at the margins have found ways to leverage local knowledge and social relations to create culturally embedded techniques of hiding confidential and sensitive information, either as strategies of active resistance or as a way of getting through the political and economic constraints of everyday life.

In this project, we design a low-tech tool for marginalized groups around the world that uses contextual social ciphers that encode rich community knowledge.


  1. Chandra, P. (2017). Informality and invisibility: Traditional technologies as tools for collaboration in an informal market. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 4765-4775).
  2. Social obfuscation and Communication Practices (Currently under Review)
Priyank Chandra
Postdoctoral Fellow

I study design and informality focusing on communities who live on the margins.