QuarantineChat and Resting Risk Face by Danielle Baskin

Good morning Virginia, I hope you’re having a good Tuesday!
Thanks for letting me join your network, you are very kind 🙂
Considering this period, if there’s something I can do for you, even just sharing few words, feel free to contact me

My LinkedIn Chat - 9th April 2020

This was a conversation a new user in my LinkedIn network started. I always hated the non-professional approach on a platform like this.


Resting Risk Face - Custom-printed mask. All images courtesy of Danielle Baskin.

But this time it was not the same. The message had quite an effect on me.

So I felt lucky. I have all the devices I need, I have my family with me, I have Wi-Fi, I have friends I call every day. But, what if I don’t?

COVID-19 is bringing to the surface social and cultural problems, as well as those regarding medical emergencies all over the world.

We need to redesign our way of thinking and acting for now and the foreseeable future, because as hard as it may be accepting this, we are not just into the toughest dystopian Black Mirror episode ever written.

A loud voice has risen in this regard. It’s Danielle Baskin’s, a young artist from San Francisco whose viral art is actually going more viral during an unexpected viral epidemic. Sounds like a pun, doesn’t it?

I make viral art, companies, and delightfully weird events.

Danielle Baskin

Danielle is a 360 degrees designer and from her art it emerges a great sensitivity towards the contemporary issues. She has sold products and experiences to NASA, Reebok, Nickelodeon, and she is the CEO of Dialup, a voice-chat app that connects people who want to rediscover the magic of talking on the phone. Her works originate from seemingly realistic needs and it is clear how most of them are stemmed from the efforts to solve problems she faced.

QuarantineChat and Resting Risk Face are two projects I selected because they are telling something about us all. Two projects, two solutions throughout opposite concepts and approaches: functionality and community on one hand; accessory and individuality on the other.

They give an interesting cross-section of our actual needs and the problems we are facing at this very time.

Both projects are linked by an interesting common vision, in my opinion: overcoming the depersonalization and isolation that a world epidemic entails, while sweetening those consequences with a delightful and reassuring note of humor.

Giving a voice and a face.


QuarantineChat. Artists: Danielle Baskin and Max Hawkins

QuarantineChat: “Talk on the phone with someone else stuck at home”, said the first words we see opening the website link. Danielle Baskin, together with Max Hawkins have created QuarantineChat as a response to the spreading of COVID-19, causing people to be in a self-isolation condition. Users can access the service by downloading Dialup, from which QuarantineChat is readapted. In this instance, though, they wanted to simulate the magic of having a surprise conversation with someone during the times of a viral epidemic. “While people can still talk to their friends and family virtually, the experience of spontaneously talking to a stranger is now missing from many of our lives” the app description mentions.

In fact, the real core of the project is connecting random isolating people to recreate everyday life occasions, thanks to a totally free, worldwide service. What you have to do is sign up, choose your language preferences and then you’ll be subscribed to a periodical call service. When your phone will suddenly ring, your caller ID will say “QuarantineChat”. Wait, and you’ll be paired with another person in a one-to-one call.


QuarantineChat connecting random isolating people

Even if someone could find the waiting elevator music and the “QuarantineChat” voice message a little bit morbid as a stylistic solution, the creators actually believe that a slightly humorous side to the project could represent an additional care to everyone in this moment. "COVID-19 is not a lighthearted matter, but we hope this project brings people moments of joy in an otherwise dark time” it’s said, talking about the project.


QuarantineChat couples quarantined people, giving them a voice


Resting Risk Face - Custom-printed mask to unlock your devices

Resting Risk Face: “Made this service that prints your face on an N95 mask, so you can protect people from viral epidemics while still being able to unlock your phone.” When Danielle Baskin posted this Tweet on February 15, her name rapidly went “viral” on social media. Using Face ID recognition on our devices while wearing a face mask can be frustrating right now. So, why not printing your face directly on it?

Started as a “dystopian joke”, Resting Risk Face is now a design firm in San Francisco that makes trendy dystopian products.But selling custom-printed respirator masks with images of wearers' faces is not the whole point. Resting Risk Face is a hybrid: a product that is between fiction and reality, between real experimentation and speculative design, like an excuse to tell something more. “If you enjoy late stage capitalism, facial recognition respirator masks will retail for $40 per mask”, provocatively reports an answer to the FAQ’s on Resting Risk Face website.

In a time where the world is united by a never seen before common equality condition, the product ideally wants to make the user distinguish himself/herself, giving vent to a subjectivity that comes out of a merely practical need, which is daily imposed by our devices, the alter egos who no longer recognize us.

The masks have had an incredible success. In the end, Baskin’s works always swing between the ordinary experience and the “what if”, like a leitmotif. Nearly all of them are charged with a touch of irony, making the users aware of the creative impulse that comes out from an everyday reality observation.

Is this a joke? Yes. No. We're not sure. Viruses are not a joke. Wash your hands when you can. And get vaccines when you can.

Resting Risk Face Website

For more information:

Twitter: @djbaskin