The Breaking Habits Project / 2018
An Ideal Boy, one of the most popular habit charts in India.

Year: Spring 2018

Typology: Website

Size: 1080 x 720 px
Tools: Sketch, HTML5, CSS, JQuery

Typefaces: Roboto by Christian Robertson

A website that reconstructed the Habit Chart, a post-colonial Indian educational device in the spirit of the twenty-first century.

What you see above is a Habit Chart. Habit Charts were cheap educational devices first distributed by the Indian government through the Educational board for a democratic, post colonial India. These charts were an indispensable part of any middle class Indian household with children. While initially conceived as rudimentary educational devices that taught children about geometric shapes, important cities, prominent freedom fighters, and important manufacturing plants in India, they quickly metastasized into instruments of moral education.
        Suddenly, titles of charts changed from “Important Indian Animals” to “The Ideal Boy,” or “Women at Work.” Centered on making value judgments rather than the simple dissemination of information, these charts now prescribed what ideal behaviors were, and further cemented the iniquitous state of gender roles in the country.

The Breaking Habits Project / 2018
Tasked with educating a rapidly developing post-colonial India, habit charts were conceived as cheap visual aids for children offering information on every imaginable subject.

The danger of such a thematic turn from information to values was that the people who were tasked with the creation of these charts themselves were men, and came from a narrow sliver of Indian society. In essence, the hope was that these charts produced moral citizens.
        In essence, charts came to address two pedagogical axes of the Indian educational system: the need for facts, and the need for moral instruction.
        In this project, however, I chose to reconstruct the Habit Chart in a manner totally antithetical to its original purpose; I wanted to memify it. Memes to me are modern society’s most democratic development. Centered on the reckless appropriation, decontextualization and distribution of imagery, memes embodied everything that the Habit Chart eschewed. No matter the marginal utility of these charts, they were the purest form of a top-down adjudication of morality. Memes, on the other hand, are subversive, irreverent, and harbor a complete disregard for top-down control.

The Breaking Habits Project / 2018
The landing page of the Breaking Habits Project site that offers a background information on charts, and what users can do on the website.

Hence, my goal was to make available the individual images from habit charts of the past, and upload them on to a website. Users could then either reuse these images by creating their own memes, or pair these images with their own messaging, creating new charts. By designing a website, I sought to democratize the creation of habit charts by allowing people to realize their own ideas of morality, identity, or just make memes!
        The idea was to enable people to make charts and not the other way around.

The Breaking Habits Project / 2018
The website allowed users to pick imagery from a repository of appropriated chart images, and make memes out of them.

The Breaking Habits Project / 2018
In addition to the meme generator was a chart generator as well, where people could assemble their own imagery to create thematic charts. One of the many outcomes of the chart generator: A reconstruction of the popular Women at Work chart into one that highlights the gender pay gap in several countries.


1         Rao, Sirish. 2003. An ideal boy. Stockport: Dewi Lewis.

2         “How to Be a ‘Bad Girl’ in India.” BBC News. BBC, February 19, 2015. https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-31535455.