The Casual Secret 

Céleste Williams

︎ thecasualsecret



I’m a hard working daydreamer who enjoys playing with the subtitles of the everyday with a thinking-through-making methodology. I aim to design in a way that accomplishes a sort of kindness that is considered, legitimised and made real with the explicit motive to include and comfort.

This developed into my goal: to highlight the lighthearted mundanities of the everyday, through an exploration of 'The Casual Secret'. This is a term I use to describe actions performed as routine or habit, that are deemed a little strange or odd. One would not normally talk about them - they are personal secrets - but not in the sense that they are purposefully hidden, more that they are unconsciously private.

Some examples are : “Drinking milk straight from the bottle.”, “I wipe my hands on my socks”, “I clean the skirting board everyday”, “I have to sleep between two pillows”

So, why do we have these casual secrets and where do they come from?
They are first created as a way to soothe situatiational boredom, then performed repeatedly turning them into an automatic behaviour.
These casual secrets build enough short term amusement to steer existential boredom away so we can continue to focus on our day to day without existential dread.
Since they derive slightly from one’s concept of “the norm”, they bring an addictive short lived thrill, which breaks up boredom. But they are simultaneously too dull to be worthy of gossip.
They occur throughout people’s daily lives, unconsciously, without being given a second thought. Which is why, if I ask you what your casual secrets are, you might take a while to conjure one up.

I want to tap into these moments, open up conversations and legitimise these casual secrets by allowing people to indulge in them in a way they may have never done before. I decided to do this by designing a methodological approach to crafting various objects that would temporarily interrupt the automatic behaviour of the casual secret.

Identify a casual secret to develop
Start developing prototypes
Once the object feels right, I contact the casual secret owner saying I have an object for them
Hand make the diary that goes with each object
The diary is a way of encouraging and deepening self-reflection and a reason to indulge in the casual secret more thoughtfully
Write them a personal letter: Thanking them for their generosity and openness to share something so personal. How I think the object might work for them, whilst assuring them that they are the expert and may make any amendments to it as they wish.
Giving them simple guidelines and prompts for the diary and a return address.
Then hand over the object, diary and letter
Eventually, I receive the diary, enjoy reading their thoughts and feelings and broaden my theory.

This led to working with all different kinds of people, crafting objects for them and their casual secrets that would temporarily interrupt their automatic behaviour, making them consciously think about performing their casual secret rather than seemingly act on it unintentionally.

The casual secret does not need an object to “solve” it for it to exist, as it has lived in people’s routines long before I pointed the finger. But the object brings a new exciting shine, making you indulge in this routine a little more, and appreciate it a little more. I hope I brought a spotlight on these small print moments of people’s lives, which are more important than ever.

So tell me, what are your casual secrets?