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By Dara Wren//
ABSTRACT// The Polaroid SX-70 was a device that became a symbol of family memories for Stefan in Sherry Turkle’s book, ‘Evocative Objects’. This essay was a starting point to design a transformative object based on the essay ‘The Polaroid SX-70 Camera’. The design intent was to transform the emotional relationships to memory and family into an inanimate object. ‘Instant Memory’ was the game created to jostle the subconscious of an individual suffering from dementia. Like photographic technology, the device was designed to stir thoughts and memories of the past through visual and auditory repetition. This redesign was intended to serve as a recollection tool to stir memories from the past and try and retain them for the future.
KEY WORDS// Evocative Objects, Dementia, Re-design, Memory Game, Design for the Elderly, Process.
INTRODUCTION// Jorge Frascara states that “design transcends the realm of aesthetics” in his design methodology. (1996) This outlook on design research was fundamental for Emily Carr University’s 2008 fall semester Core Studio. This design challenge focused on the meaning of objects beyond their aesthetic value. Sherry Turkle’s book Evocative Objects: Things We Think With was the basis for this studio project. The objectives from the design brief (2008) were “to select an object from the book and re-design it such that the meaning and the evocative qualities expressed in the story become intrinsic to the object itself through a reconsideration of shape, form, texture, detail, function, color etc.” This new object would be designed based on feeling and meaning instead of simply three dimensional and two dimensional forms. I selected the essay ‘The SX-70 Instant Camera’ by Stefan Helmreich.
EVOCATIVE OBJECTS// An evocative object generates a personal connection to something that can be seen or touched because it brings strong memories, images, and feelings to mind. Primary research came directly from the essay in Turkle’s book where the meaning of the camera became integral to my design process.
In my primary research I first identified keywords from Helmreich’s essay: instant, pictures, mylar membrane, color film, layers, experimentation, subconscious, and images. From these keywords it was important to investigate why Stefan considered the Polaroid SX-70 camera an evocative object. The Polaroid camera was much more than an object that took instant pictures. This device was an object that connected him to his family and more specifically his grandfather. It was an important family object because his grandfather invented it. Instead of just a camera the device became a symbol of his family memories throughout the years of his grandfathers inventing. All of their family photographs were captured using Polaroid film products. Helmreich believed that “the family was a stimulus for jostling his (grandfather’s) subconscious.” (Turkle, 2007)
The object itself was very evocative; you could hear the image capture of a photograph and touch the images seconds after the chemicals preserved the moment in time. This object instantly captured moments, ideas, and memories.
The relationship between Stefan’s grandfather and the instant camera evoked a sense that the Polaroid camera turned into a handheld subconscious. The object held his grandfathers ideas about technology, inventing, and photography, as well as the family memories they preserved with the film. Turkle believed that “certain authors reflected on an objects role in a significant life transition – an object serves as a marker for a relationship and emotional connection.” (Turkle, 2007) Stefan’s essay was presented in the chapter titled mourning and memory. The SX-70 was an object of memory.
TRANSFORMATION// What about memory was evocative to me? How could I transform this memory device? To answer these questions my process began with brainstorming. In each essay “the author focuses not on the objects instrumental power – but on the object as a companion of life and experience: how it connects to the emotional world.” (Turkle, 2007) The connections I gathered between family and Stefan’s evocative object became the basis for my conceptual development. My family was going through a transition that was directly related to memory: memory loss. That same year Polaroid went out of business. The very object I was transforming had lost its capability to store memories. My primary research concluded that this new object would be a memory storage device.
THESIS// With the discontinuation of Polaroid film technology I proposed to transform the evocative qualities of the SX-70 that are now in the past to the present. Photo technology captures memories from the past and preserves them for the future. My final prototype was created as a memory game to serve elderly suffering from early dementia through personalization.
USER PROFILE// Vera was used as a model to show how the game ‘Instant Memory’ can be tailored to individual perspectives. Vera is ninety-nine years old. At the age of ninety-seven, Vera suffered an injury to her hip. Requiring surgery, Vera went under anesthetic. Post-op she suffered a condition called Post Operative Cognitive Decline. Old age combined with this new memory loss resulted in her diagnosis of dementia. “Dementia is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental health processes caused by brain disease or injury and is marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.” (Oxford American Dictionary, 1996) This condition affects every facet of Vera’s life.
Memories// Polaroids are now a symbol of the past. I used this notion as inspiration to collect photographs from various points in Vera’s life. A method of reflecting the personal nature of memory was collecting data about the user. I interviewed family members to get their perspective on important hobbies, memories and photographs to include in the device. According to Nancy Mace, “a program geared specifically to the individual’s needs and abilities will offer stimulation that the person can access and use meaningfully” (Mace, 1990). Through my primary experiences with the user I reflected on my participation in her life. Through family participation I assembled a complete inventory both visually and typographically.
Letterpress technology was the visual structure used to communicate my concept. Letterpress is a technology grounded in history and involves a personal interaction with moveable type. This relationship of the physical assembly of words linked appropriately to the literal assembly of Vera’s portable memory in the game “Instant Memory.” The typeface selections became objective. The most important element was for the typefaces to be readable by an elderly audience. Following feedback from my design proposal I began to develop my concept into a visual form.
PROTOTYPES// The game was designed to emulate the ‘instant’ effect of capturing an image. A photograph captures an event or place that you see for generations to come; likewise, a memory stores an event or place that you see in your long term memory to be recalled as you please. The prototyping process involved both three dimensional and two dimensional forms. Prototype one was essentially a card game. Like photographs these cards would display images of family members. Each card was designed as a pair with coordinating pictures and names. The game would focus on matching and making visual connections to family members. Formally the cards mimicked the dimensions of Polaroid pictures with a series of Mylar layers. Initially my intent was to remain within my comfort zone and produce a two dimensional form. With further critique from my classmates and professor my second prototype took an unexpected form.
Utilizing the collected data from my previous iteration I was challenged to make the type and photos more interactive for the user. The cards worked to establish connections but lacked the extended time for the cards to be handled by the user which would better support memory retention. This iteration was developed into a board game with moveable pieces that worked together with Velcro. Speech bubbles incorporated names of family members and events were places on caption bars. This iteration was a 3D sketch model constructed out of cardboard.
The final prototype was the most refined in system and visual form. It included all the data needed to play “Instant Memory” and incorporated color theory to support memory retention. Speech bubbles were black and white for readability with a red background to evoke an increased reaction time.
USER EXPERIENCE// How the user interacts with the game is critical to their ability to retain information. “Amongst the most innocent yet painful questions asked of the memory impaired persons are: Do you remember what we did last week, or you know who I am don’t you?” (Mace, 1990). As a learning device this design was intended to avoid these problematic questions. The process of playing the game involves no right or wrong answers to promote a healthy learning environment. The game relies on the player’s personal interpretation in order to avoid frustration or anger. As a two-player game the images and text create a dialogue to promote memory activation. By analyzing how the images and words are linked, meaning enters into the user’s short-term memory. This allows the user to make connections to long-term memories they share with the individuals they are analyzing. This dialogue relies on voluntary participation, which is influenced by the users mood or willingness to play the ! game.
FINDINGS// “Design research is a systematic inquiry whose goal is knowledge of, or in the embodiment of configuration, composition, structure, purpose, value and meaning in man-made things and systems” (Bayazit, 2004). This approach to design research accurately suits an evocative object. The execution of this project was in depth with constant sketching and researching to influence both the three dimensional and two dimensional deliverables. The goal of this project was to connect to the essay physically and mentally; I believe that my personal content supported this goal. Using research to provide meaning to my transformative object was the most important step in all my process.
One concern was that proposing a game for memory recovery would be problematic because dementia has no proven cure. Creating an activity grounded in personal memories “is an important concept because it supports the idea that the person’s decline can be slowed by meaningful activity and stimulation. In this way, it offers caregivers some recourse at a time when the untreatable nature of dementia is its most publicized characteristic” (Bayazit, 2004). Research into the nature of dementia gave my project the precedence needed to develop a three dimensional form.
The development of the device also helped to support both the user and the family participants in this transitional time. “A program of appropriate and socially valued activities is one way of demonstrating to family and friends what the person is still capable of doing when the proper circumstances are made available. At a time when the person’s disability is the main object of attention, a therapeutic activity program can help shift the focus in a more positive direction, that is, toward the person’s abilities and retained skills” (Mace, 1990).
CONCLUSIONS// “Transitional times are rich with creative possibility” (Turkle, 2007). This object redesign transformed into an evocative object for me. This project is a reflection of my relationship with my nanny and it will forever preserve the memories and thoughts I shared through these explorations.
In retrospect, my final prototype would benefit from written directions that correspond with the visual form. With further development “Instant Memory” could become a working model for many families, not just my own, to help a family member suffering from dementia. More extensive user testing would have aided in the transition of the final design in becoming a working model.
Personally, the value in this project came from reflection and pushing beyond my preferred two dimensional medium. Conceptually I am pleased with my connection to Stefan Helmreich’s essay. In many ways I believe that his essay helped me to establish my own relationship to an object of mourning and memory dealing with my nanny’s memory loss.
1. Frascara, Jorge. (1996). Graphic Design: fine art or social science. In Victor Margolin & Richard Buchanan (Eds.), The idea of design: a reader. London & Cambridge: MIT Press, 44-55
2. Bayazit, Nigan. Investigating Design: A Review of Fourty Years of Design Research. http://mitpress.mit.edu/journals/pdf/desi_20_1_16_0.pdf
3. Dementia. (1996). Oxford American Dictionary and Thesaurus. Oxford University Press.
4. Mace, L. Nancy. (1990). Dementia Care: Patient, Family, & Community. Baltimore & London: The John Hopkins University Press, 148-172
5. Turkle, Shelly. (2007). Introduction: The Things That Matter http://mitpress.mit.edu/books chapters/0262201682intro1.pdf
Figure 1. Dara Wren (2008)
Figure 2. Julie Wren (1992)
Figure 3. Dara Wren (2008)
Figure 4. Dara Wren (2008)
Hydroponic Agricultural Retrofitting in Urban Spaces: a Transformative and Collaborative Design Process
by Jennifer Cook//
ABSTRACT// The project discussed in this article focuses on the transformation of existing vacant residential and commercial urban spaces into agricultural spaces utilizing hydroponic growing methods. The intent of the project was to examine how this process could be profitable for landowners and benefit the city as a whole. Through an investigation of agricultural techniques, land usage and real estate costs, the project team attempted to answer the question “Can Vegetables Pay the Rent?”. Challenges arose as the scope of the project began to widen and the outcome became less clear. This paper is a reflection on how a more defined research methodology can stabilize process and result in a clearer conclusion to research.
KEYWORDS// Design for Social Change, Persuasive Design, Transformative Design, Smart Cities, Collaborative Design, Agriculture, Hydroponic.
INTRODUCTION// The project team developed a concept that would join two issues that we observed in, but were not exclusive to, Vancouver. It appeared there was a seemingly large amount of unused or underutilized indoor urban space, and inadequate use of traditional agricultural methods. These methods seemed irrelevant to the development of a cohesive, efficient city. While we examined the economic impact of these two areas, we also had in mind the effect transforming these spaces could have on the surrounding community. What started out as a simple inquiry into whether we could prove turning unused urban space into agricultural space that would be profitable (and therefore, implementable), quickly became a much wider investigation into food security, community agriculture, and real estate. However, towards the end of our research, the lack a developed design research framework meant the designing of repurposed spaces became secondary to number-crunching and marketing strategies—areas which were not our expertise nor, ultimately, helpful in the development of our concept.
BACKGROUND// Green spaces and community gardens have become more popular in recent years, but these require something that growing cities cannot spare: land. As the realization that a dependence on oil is no longer sustainable, urban development is actually moving in the opposite direction of the mid-fifties; instead of urban sprawl we now have urban density. The idea of urban density relates to the concept of smart cities. Smart cities happen when “…investments in human and social capital and traditional (transport) and modern (ICT) communication infrastructure fuel sustainable economic growth and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources, through participatory governance” (Caragliu and Nijkamp, 2009). This vision will probably manifest itself in denser, self-contained cities; with all of the needs of its residents met within a smaller radius without relying on transporting essentials over long distances. By becoming self-reliant agriculturally, a city’s food supply is no longer susceptible to fluctuations in transportation costs, weather and natural disasters, or political embargoes.
The project team proposed that the Lower Mainland, already a bountiful agricultural area, could and should strive to become self-reliant agriculturally in an effort to achieve its own goals of becoming a ‘green’ city. We believe that the social benefits of this transformation would have immediate and lasting ramifications on Vancouver. This method could also have the potential to be applicable to many other cities throughout North America.
The concept of using existing agricultural methods to produce a large amount of food in a fraction of the space used by traditional methods is not generative but transformative. Using “dead” space that was taking up energy and money, this new implementation of agriculture in cities could supply families in need as well as offer the operators a new source of income.
RESEARCH QUESTION// Could the repurposing of urban indoor spaces into agricultural spaces benefit the city of Vancouver and move the city towards their goal of becoming a ‘green’ city?
INITIAL STAGES// The starting point for our research was our infographic; devised as a three-pronged approach to research, it was a way to visualize our data in a way that made sense to us, as well as to those involved in our research. We divided the research into three areas – urban spaces, growing systems, and urban agriculture.
The project team drew upon their collective experience to put together the information panels. Two team members specializing in Industrial Design were able to visualize space usage and consider material and structural possibilities and hindrances, while the third member, specializing in Communication Design, organized data and focused on synthesizing it into a reference board for research.
In order to keep on track and make the research transparent and available to all team members, a blog and a Wiki page were set up for team members to edit and contribute to. It was treated as a digital file cabinet; information was stored there as it was collected for each member to reference. The blog, due to its format, also provided a linear trail of research. As the project developed, the changing trajectories began to reveal how our research could have benefitted from a more clearly defined research method.
RESEARCH CHALLENGES// Each main area of research posed its own challenges which led to a sense of being overwhelmed, and at some points, stalled momentum. This was caused by the unfamiliarity with the subject matter, the unavailability of certain information, and amplified by a fluctuating target audience. As the research led on, it often became unclear who exactly should be the intended audience – landowners, city officials, the public – or a combination of the three. The inability to identify which of these groups would have the most to gain from the concept led the research to become mired down with unnecessary information.
Investigating urban spaces involved examining the total estimated vacant sublease space available in the Greater Vancouver area. We discovered there was a great increase in available space within the year 2008 alone, suggesting that there were hundreds of thousands of square feet of unused space available for transformation. Finding out what the energy cost of these spaces might be, however, was difficult. Initially we attempted to find out what the cost was to landowners in taxes, energy costs, and maintenance to have this space sit unused, as a way to illustrate how letting these spaces sit was detrimental financially. This information was not so available, however, and fluctuated wildly from space to space depending on its intended usage (residential or commercial) and geographic location within the city.
The initial concept had envisioned hydroponics as our growing method of choice. As research progressed, the team began to investigate another indoor growing method, aeroponics, less used and understood. Due to public perception of hydroponic farming and its association with illegal marijuana grow ops, however, some difficulty occurred when attempting to gather research background from city officials. The project would have to be aware of and work against preconceived ideas about hydroponic methods. At this stage, not being taken seriously meant crucial collaborative discourse could not be engaged in with officials, at least until more irrefutable evidence could be obtained.
Focusing on the societal effects of urban agriculture grounded the research in potential positive social benefits, and gave the team the one certainty assurance: that both the focused and widespread implementation of urban agriculture would contribute to the city’s health and growth. Identifying specific areas of the city which were at the highest risk of food insecurity, (areas where individuals had the greatest economic or logistical barriers in their way to access fresh food), focused the urban space research. It became clear that the benefits of an implemented agricultural system would reach beyond physical nutrition; it could improve a community’s morale and self-perception. At the heart of the concept was designing an experience. It seems that “[we] are no longer simply designing products for users. We are designing for the future experiences of people, communities and cultures who now are connected and informed in ways that were unimaginable even ten years ago” (Sanders and Stappers, 2008). Rarely did we visualize what transforming these spaces would look like, but making these indoor farms a point of civic pride was crucial to their success and propagation. This would likely mean high visibility in the community, a change that would be an outward signal of a fundamental shift in the beliefs upon which this city operates.
ROADBLOCK// At this point in the research it appeared that the project would boil down to economic viability; the only way to gain the attention of a landowner or city official would be to prove profitability in hard numbers. The team again split the research into three areas to address the perceived potential audiences and their spaces—private owner (balcony space), building owner (apartment level space), and city (vertical farm configuration). It was at this number crunching that the team realized the project had become less about repurposing spaces and more about marketing. Adopting the role of problem-definer and researcher was useful as we recognized that “… in transformation design the designers are not always ‘designers’ ” (Burns et. all, 2006) in the traditional sense. Here, a more interdisciplinary collaborative approach would have helped, as “… complex problems cannot be addressed from a single point of view, and are rarely the sole responsibility of one department, set of expertise or knowledge silo” (Burns et. all, 2006). Collaborating with outside teams would have allowed us to focus on transforming the spaces, instead of mounting an argument to persuade landowners and city officials.
REVISITING// The unclear target audience stemmed from uncertainty due to lack of expertise in many areas that touched our research. This inability to develop a clear audience, which could have been more readily defined had there been more outside collaboration, caused our focus to be easily skewed and debated. Most of the research effort was information driven, collecting data to help argue a case when our skills would have been better utilized visualizing and developing our transformative design. Collaborating with property developers, building engineers and agriculture experts would have left certain areas of research in the hands of those more capable, and discourse between disciplines could have widened the possibilities of the project. Many aspects of the project’s potential remained unexplored due to lack of time, such as designing the experience of the space for both users and the general public, and integrating the sites into the city’s landscape as points of visual interest and pride.
CONCLUSION// In engaging in collaborative design, perhaps it is useful to use what Nigel Cross refers to as “design science”, an “…explicitly organized, rational, and wholly systematic approach to design” (2001). This systemic approach coupled with interdisciplinary collaboration can be used in instances where there are messy, indeterminate problems that may pose challenges in communication, delegation, and organization for participants. Failing to collaborate effectively with outside expertise resulted in frustration and lack of focus as the scope of the project grew larger and beyond both our collective tacit and explicit knowledge. The project was not a loss. Although though the change never took place and there were difficulties along the way, it was a valuable exercise in transformative design thinking. Certainly, “… organizations now operate in an environment of constant change, [and] the challenge is not how to design a response to a current issue, but how to design a means of continually responding, adapting and innovating” (Sanders and Stappers, 2008). In summary, the concept of transformative design epitomizes the slippery and indefinable practices of design, operating on the most fundamental levels of tacit knowledge, drawing on a wide variety of disciplines, and resulting in only a point from which to make the next leap.
Burns, C., Cottam, H., Vanstone, C., and Winhall, J. (2006). Transformation Design. Red Paper 02. Design Council, London, 9, 20.
Caragliu, A., Del Bo, C., and Nijkamp, P. (2009). Smart Cities in Europe. Retrieved from: http://ideas.repec.org/p/dgr/vuarem/2009-48.html#provider.
Cross, N. (2001). Designerly Ways of Knowing: Design discipline versus design science. Design Issues, 53.
Sanders, Elizabeth, B., N., and Stappers, Pieter, Jan. (2008). Co-Creation and the new Landscapes
of Design. Retrieved from: http://maketools.com/pdfs/CoCreation_Sanders_Stappers_08_preprint.pdf.
Figure 1. Jennifer Cook (2008)
Figure 2. Eli Pousson via Compfight (2008)
Figure 3. Jennifer Cook (2008)
by Bonne Zabolotney Dean of Design + Dynamic Media//
Few designers contest the idea that we cannot measure the success or failure of any design until the context in which it was created is fully understood. Understanding context, however, requires a knowledge of the culture in which the design in question is situated.
In his essay, “Culture is Ordinary”, Raymond Williams asserts that ideas of culture are insinuated in all aspects of everyday life: “Culture is ordinary… A culture has two aspects: the known meanings and directions, which its members are trained to [and] the new observations and meanings, which are offered and tested” (2009, p. 93). For Williams, the idea of culture means everyday life and the hegemonic values that go hand-in-hand with the ordinary, combined with more concrete and experiential forms of culture, such as novels, films, and advertising. To pose the question, “what were they thinking?” about any society is to inquire about ideas and issues of economics, politics, ritual, technology, and culture. Design emerges as an intersection of these factors, with the nature of this intersection ever-shifting.
Charles Eames explained design as the overlap between the interests of the designer, the client, and of society as a whole. Eames considers design as a professional practice, with primary responsibility toward the client, and resulting benefits to society. He does not, however, examine what happens when the interests of society do not correspond with the interests of designers and their clients. When we begin to question the interests of society and its corresponding cultural systems, we increase “our understanding of the way [contemporary] design works to reflect or create values” (Drucker, 2008, p. xxi). To further illustrate this relationship between design and cultural shifts, I offer two assertions:
The meaning of design changes when its surrounding political and cultural ideology changes.
The swastika has been known for thousands of years as a positive icon of good fortune and prosperity:
The swastika also symbolized light or the god of light, forked lightning, rain and water. It represents Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva — Creator, Preserver, Destroyer. It appears in the footprints of Buddha… represents Jupiter to the Latins, [and] Thor to the Scandinavians… The swastika was similar to the ancient Hebrew letter tau, the sign of life… (Heller, 2000, p. 6–7).
Given these meanings of universal good, non-religious groups and consumer culture eventually adopted it as their own. During the early 20th century, swastikas could be seen on North American hockey sweaters, Carlsberg® Beer labels, Coca-Cola™ trinkets, and as Rudyard Kipling’s personal insignia. By the time Adolf Hitler became head of the German state, the swastika had also become the symbol for German nationalism. Expropriating the swastika allowed the Nazi party to corrupt the optimistic meaning of the symbol for their own cause. By 1940, Germans saw it as a sign of strength and solidarity while North Americans and Allied Europe viewed it as a sign of aggression — something identifiable to fight against. Although the shape has not changed for millennia, today the swastika is interpreted as “a vivid reminder of a mournful history, [and] an instrument of its depravity” (Heller, 2000, p. 12) due to the political and cultural ideologies associated with this symbol.
The value of design changes when availability of materials, technologies and economics shift.
Various types of lace have been made since ancient history, but it became widespread and very popular in Europe during the early Renaissance. Lace was hand-made; it took much time, energy, and skill to produce small amounts, and was consequently highly valued. The textile industry, which developed during the Industrial Revolution, greatly changed this perception of value. By the mid- to late-1800s, most lace was machine-made by a new thriving commercial industry. Improvements to equipment allowed cotton to replace the original silk thread, and the scale of production allowed various laces to be cheaply produced. A growth in transport, colonization and trade further expanded the marketing of lace. Chemical Lace, developed in the early 20th century, changed the method of lace-making altogether: cotton thread is embroidered on a base fabric, which is later chemically dissolved, leaving the lace pattern behind. By the mid-20th century, Polyvinyl Chlorine became a material was used to make lace-trimmed vinyl tablecloths. To achieve the visual aesthetic of lace we no longer require hand-crocheting of natural threads, we merely require a lace-like pattern to be stamped in plastic. The design and visual aesthetic of lace hasn’t changed much over 500 years, but its value has. It is no longer exclusive, expensive, nor difficult to obtain.
In both of these examples, design can be interpreted “as a cultural practice, as a cultural phenomenon” (Drucker, 2008, p. xxi). While the visual essence of the designs did not change, the way in which they are perceived and therefore valued, shifted throughout history. Fully understanding the factors leading to shifts in perception of design allows us to assess and anticipate contemporary design practice. We are able to situate design practice as a cognitive process — as social behaviour — fully embedded in ordinary and everyday culture.
1. Williams, Raymond. “Culture is Ordinary.” 1958. The Everyday Life Reader. Ed. Ben Highmore. New York: Routledge, 2002. 91-100.
2. Heller, Steven. The Swastika: Symbol Beyond Redemption? New York:
Allworth Press, 2000. 12.
3. Drucker, Johanna and Emily McVarish. Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2008. xxi.
by Michele Guimond//
ABSTRACT// The book Pleasure and Pain: 70 Years of Graphic Design, produced for a second year communication design project, intended to create a form that offered a unique and interesting way to look at the history of graphic design that was engaging for an audience of non-designers. This was achieved using categories to group design that suggested design’s various social functions; these categories had a broader context as opposed to being lodged in design paradigms. By focusing the ideation process on user needs, the framework for the book was established using the visceral and opposing human emotions of pleasure and pain to map a non-linear course through history. This framework enabled the various functions of graphic design to be viewed through a series of critical lenses. This article explores the design process for this book.
KEYWORDS// History, Design Writing, Process, Reflection, Emotion, User-centered, Communication Design
INTRODUCTION// Design is fundamentally a cultural activity and yet it is rarely discussed in these terms. More often design is presented as ‘applied art’, and as such it inherits theoretical tools that are not necessarily the ‘best fit’. Despite the fact that graphic design’s history clearly reflects its cultural and political context, design and society are discussed largely in isolation. This may result from the fact that, unlike many other disciplines, graphic design has developed without much “theoretical reflection” (Frascara, 1996). Therefore the bulk of the literature available on the subject of design, focuses largely on technical theory. On the subject of design history, the selection of literature, textbooks and scholarly surveys is relatively sparse. For the uninitiated, including students of design, the available literature seems somewhat self referential, predominately geared toward identifying the shifts and phases within design itself. With this as a starting point the book, Pleasure and Pain: 70 Years of Graphic Design was conceived as an exploration in developing an alternate set of critical lenses through which to view design history, bringing design’s cultural context to the fore and engaging the audience on a more visceral level. This article describes the development of the theoretical framework used to arrange, constrain and assess the book’s content.
RESEARCH QUESTION// Why would someone who is not studying communication design be interested in the history of design? This is a question that Michele Guimond, Kirsty Tsang and Nireesha Prakash focused on throughout the development of this book. How could a design history book engage non-practitioner and non-scholarly audiences in understanding design as a cultural activity and offer a compelling critical lens through which to view it?
Methods and Process// The following will describe the design process behind Pleasure and Pain by describing the three central factors driving its development: precedents, content and users. The effect of each of these on the final outcome of the project will be discussed individually and in chronological order.
PRECEDENTS// Initial research revealed that “compared to other areas of design, graphic design has been given short shrift by historians” (Wikins, 2001). Books on visual forms and elements, design heroes, how to’s and stylistic trends abound but the majority fail to bring design into a broader cultural or social context. Compared to the number of art history books or historic surveys for just about every other discipline there is a strikingly slim selection for those interested in the history of graphic design.¹ The books that are available on design, historic and theory based, were found to share a common limitation for the non-specialist audience in that they are largely self-referencing and entrenched in design paradigms. The fact that early research into precedents revealed that so few “good scholarly surveys are written for lay audiences” suggests that a book like Pleasure and Pain is relevant to the untrained audience (Margolin, 2000). Some critical writers on the subject of graphic design point to the fact that this model of writing stems from the fact that “graphic design history is modeled on the earliest approaches to art history” (Wilkins, 2001). Consequently many of the historic surveys that currently exist on graphic design resemble art history books in both form and analysis. Arguably this limits the scope of analysis in design as it tends to follow a linear path marked by stages of design’s own history thereby isolating it from the social and political context. As Stephen J. Eskilson says in Graphic Design: A New History: “It is my belief that graphic design history has too often been presented through a parade of styles and individual achievements devoid of social context” (Ekilson, 2007). The challenge for this project was to take the same information provided in other design books and remodel it in way that established a new path through the subject’s history and provided a context that looks outside of design itself.
Analyzing Content// As aspiring designers, it was initially difficult to look at images from all of design’s greats and see beyond the compositions, colours and typographic choices. However, reading through the text generated collectively by our classes revealed the social and political landscapes in which the pieces were produced. This also facilitated a more relational view of the images (Fig. 1). It became apparent that the images marked not just distinct points in design history but moreover that they represented a kind of visual social history. With this new found perspective, the images began to reveal both the good and bad side of design as well as the good and bad side of human history. This was to become the
catalyst for an extensive ideation process.
In this project there was not the scope for an exhaustive anthology of either human culture or design. Constraints and boundaries within the ideation process were important in deciding content and images while presenting them in a way that adequately revealed their relationship.
Relating Content to Users: An Emotional Engagement// Initial research into precedents and content analysis promoted a more critical view of design. This was to be the area of focus while relating content to users. In the search for universal paradigms on which to peg design history, an effort was made to look for concepts which would afford a critical lens. Although there was not enough time to conduct extensive primary research or user surveys, a large portion of the ideation process was focused on identifying the possible preconceptions of non-specialists. One of the key issues discussed was the fact that design is perceived by the general public as a primarily commercial and/or artistic practice. Therefore, a secondary goal became to challenge this perception by showing the variety of roles and social functions design has played.
The framework chosen to explore the history of graphic design was something personal but universal: human emotion. In order to show the “design in humanity” and the “humanity in design” it seemed pertinent to show both its good and bad sides (Gerber, 2007). As an example, propaganda can be employed as a weapon for a despotic regime or to promote cultural values for the common good. This concept developed into grouping images into two typically polar opposites of human emotion: pleasure and pain.
REFINING THE CONCEPT// The main headlines of pleasure and pain were divided into sections that facilitated the organization of content along cultural reference points. For instance, pain was divided into war, discrimination and social control while pleasure was divided into inspiration, lifestyle and culture. Although contextual content was generated as a class, considerable editorial material added another layer of interest to engage the user in the human aspects of design.
Editorial offered analogies that related design to subjects outside of the discipline. The emphasis was to move away from relying on the informed eye of those with “practical experience of spatial forms” towards those with more tacit knowledge of “conventional literate forms” (Swann, 2002).
PRECEDENTS, USERS AND CONTENT AS DICTATORS OF FORM// From the outset the class was discouraged from assuming the product’s final form. As such, the concept of Pleasure and Pain was chosen before the idea of a book was determined. As part of the brief, the final form needed to support the concept and respond to the way the user was intended to interact with the content.The final product was not confined to being a static piece of design; it could have taken the form of a website, motion graphic, poster, pamphlet, etc.
The decision to use the form of a book was primarily based on users. A static form of design enabled a certain amount of control in terms of how the user navigated through the images and saw them in relation to the text and categories. Further to this, it was considered that a book could more fully support oppositional sides and the broad categories of pleasure and pain. Various formats and prototypes of the book were circulated to a small survey group of non-designers to gauge reactions. In the end, the popular choice was a square format (Fig. 2). This format again supported the concept of expressing sides or poles whilst also removing it further from resembling a ‘textbook’. Debarking further from the art history model, dates and artists receded as secondary pieces of information through typographic choices and layouts. Exploring how a static piece of design could support a non-linear flow of information whilst imparting extensive historic information was a compelling challenge.
REFLECTION// This journal article is not a defense of a second year level design project’s ability to rival some of its undoubtedly more comprehensive precedents. As an excerpt from the introduction of the book sets out: “For someone interested in design […] there are a plethora of relevant books out there. […] This book will not serve those who are interested in gaining practical skills in graphic design or those seeking to learn details about its broad history. This book offers those interested in design a novel way to consider […] the function of design over time” (Guimond, 2008).
Like any other undergraduate design project, there are elements that could be improved given more time and research. Upon reflection the main failure of the book is that, despite best efforts and intent, it continued to appropriate an art history approach to design by over emphasizing the emotional impact of the design pieces instead of focusing on their performative role. This could perhaps have been improved with more extensive user-group surveys and comparative literature research.
CONCLUSION// In Basic Concepts of Human-Centered Design, Krippendorff discusses a discrepancy in the perception of design between “outsiders who see design as an applied art having to do with aesthetics” and “insiders to design [considering themselves] advocates for users, and trying to balance social, political, cultural and ecological considerations” (Krippendorff, 2006). This disparity was one of the key learning outcomes of this project. Increasingly in design discourse and teaching there is an emphasis on user-centered design and the importance of involving non-designers in the design process. However, the majority of literature on design, particularly that relating to its history, reinforces the outsiders’ perspective making it largely unapproachable to the uninitiated. The intention for the book was to challenge the popular view of design as applied art and in doing so encourage a relational understanding of design as a primarily cultural activity.
1. Eskilson, S.J. (2007). Graphic Design: A New History. New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 10.
2. Frascara. J. (1996). Graphic Design: Fine Art or Social Science. In Victor Margolin & Richard Buchanan (Eds.), The Idea of Design: a Design Issues Reader. London & Cambridge: MIT Press, 44-55.
3. Gerber, A. and Triggs, T. (2007). Comment. Retrieved November 27, 2009, from http://lcc.arts.ac.uk/ docs/080_BLUEPRINT_OCTOBER.pdf
4. Krippendorff, K. (2006). Basic Concepts of Human- Centered Design. The Semantic Turn: A New Foundation for Design. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis Group, 39-75.
5. Margolin. V. (2000). Toward a History of Graphic Design (Interview). Retrieved December 5, 2009, from http://tigger.uic.edu/~victor/articles/
6. Guimond, M., Prakash, N., and Tsang, K. (2008). Pleasure and Pain: 70 Years of Graphic Design. Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
7. Swann, C. (2002). Action Research and the Practice of Design. Design Issues, 18(2), 49-61.
8. Wilkins. B. (2001). Design History’s Obsession with Appearance: No More Heroes. Retrieved November 20, 2009 from http://eyemagazine.com/opinion.php?id=35&oid=175
Fig. 1. Guimond, M. (2008).
Fig 2. Guimond, M. (2008).
Fig 3. Guimond, M. (2008).
Fig 4. Guimond, M. (2008).
by Thais Amaral//
ABSTRACT// This paper reflects on brand identity and the designer’s role in translating client ambitions and values into effective visual communication. Process played a key role in re-designing the identity of a small Thai restaurant in Vancouver, BC. The following aspires to reflect on the role played by research in creating a cohesive product that extends beyond decoration while still retaining cultural value. The benefit of multiple iterations and stylistic explorations is not understated here. This essay proposes that the role of the designer is to facilitate communication between business owner and clientele by portraying and translating emotions and values already inherent in the company.
KEYWORDS// Identity Design, Process, Restaurant, Visual Communication, Branding Identity
INTRODUCTION// The perception clients have about a certain business will influences its success. Because we live in a world where consumers are constantly bombarded with visuals and huge varieties of products to choose from, it has become essential for a business to make a good first impression. In this sense, identity design plays a huge role in setting a business apart its competition while also making it seem desirable and trustworthy. Identities with “character and personality forge connections with consumers through unique, evocative, and multidimensional messages” (Gobé, 2001). It is the role of the designer to understand the needs of both business owners and clients in order to translate these needs into a visual form that communicates effectively.
In this context, this paper reviews the design process, which deals with identity design for small businesses. I will review the phases of my design and learning highlights using this opportunity to reinforce the role played by research. This paper illustrates a project that aimed to affect people’s perceptions and behaviours towards a business, instead of acting as mere visual decoration.
BACKGROUND// The project analyzed here was part of a third year Communication Design course at Emily Carr University. The goal was to redesign the identity of a small restaurant, which offered good services, but suffered from poor visual identity. The design was to be informed by research and improved through the development of different iterations.
Even though this was an individual project, our class was initially divided into groups to share research and choose a restaurant to work with. My group decided to redesign the identity of a Thai restaurant, in Vancouver, BC. We wanted to work with an ethnic restaurant for the opportunity to explore not only the role of identity design as business strategy but how values from a certain culture can be integrated into an identity. While the final design was not implemented in the end, this project provided new design knowledge for all involved and contributed to transferable skills enhancing future projects.
RESEARCH QUESTION// According to Jorge Frascara, “the solution to a client’s needs is not the production of the visual communication, it is the modification of people’s attitudes or abilities in one way or another” (1998). In other words, quality and value in design should be measured by how adequately the visual communication solves the initial issue at hand. As the client did not adapt this project, there was not the true opportunity to test how the final design would impact an audience. Frascara’s point of view is one I agree with as it summarizes what I believe designers should always aim for. Since the beginning of this project I understood that only through research on identity design as well as on Thailand’s culture and cuisine would I be able to redesign not only the marketing materials but the experience of dining in the restaurant itself.
METHODOLOGY// When designers are presented with projects, they must ask questions of themselves and others in order to truly define what the problem is so that later it may be solved. It is now known that “design problems are ill-defined, [and] ill-structured” (Cross, 2001). With that in mind, the first step in our research process was to interview the owner of the restaurant to get a sense of the personality and core values of his business. According to him, the restaurant had been open for a little over a year and was his primary source of income. He showed the most pride in the friendly atmosphere, the staff, and in the authenticity of the food served. He told us the majority of customers were Caucasian, and young adults or students.
From visiting the restaurant we observed that the place offered really good food indeed, but lacked personality. The interiors were plain and the signage did not differentiate the restaurant from other restaurants nearby. There were three different versions of the logotype being used across different media. There were major issues of clarity for the brand.
The last stage of our group research was to find out more about local competition through their websites and online customer reviews. Looking at competition helps to identify possible threats and allows designers to position a client’s business so that it will stand out.
CREATING A DESIGN BRIEF// After doing some group research, it was time for the individual work to start. Separating the group was important because each person had their own perceptions of what the problem was and what approaches could be taken to solve it. By combining the findings I developed a design brief, outlining the main problems with the restaurant’s current identity, such as lack of uniqueness and cohesiveness.
I then presented my vision for the new identity as defined through keywords (youthful, personal and stimulating) that would later guide my visual explorations. Essentially, I wanted to create an identity that would appeal to young Caucasian customers while reflecting Thai culture in a fresh and modern way.
DEVELOPING MULTIPLE ITERATIONS// The first iteration I developed was based mostly on my first impressions of Thai culture and of the restaurant (Fig. 1). The visual style was inspired by Thai arts and crafts. At this point the brief had not yet been written and very little research had been done, because of this the work lacked the depth and research to validate it. From this phase I learned how important it is to move past first ideas, for the first one is never quite as informed or refined as it could be.
The concept developed for the second iteration was strongly driven by my desire to highlight the experience of eating Thai food. First of all, I decided to rename the restaurant as “Bungalow”. The name choice was intended to preserve and highlight the feeling of intimacy provided by the small size of the restaurant. The term “bungalow” evokes the idea of a retreat, a place where one stays to relax. I wanted customers to feel as though they were taking a break from a stressful world when eating at the restaurant. The visuals I created were exotic, stimulating, and reflected Thai arts and colors (Fig. 2).I was happy this iteration, so it frustrated me to leave it behind and work on yet another concept. In spite of this, I now see how developing multiple iterations is beneficial for the design process; it allows the designer to see things from a different point of view and raises the work to a higher level.
My third iteration was inspired by the flavours and characteristics of Thai food. This concept highlighted not only Thai culture but the product being offered to the clients. Through the name “Naturally Thai”, I hoped to convey both the authenticity of the restaurant and the healthiness of the food. I then attempted to convey healthiness and authenticity visually by implementing earthy tones and organic shapes (Fig. 3).
THE FINAL PRODUCT// After creating different concepts, I chose one to be developed into the final identity. I decided to work with my second concept, “Bungalow”. This was the time to make refinements of form, typography, colour and format. It was an experience that taught me how to summarize my learning and integrate the best of each iteration into one final solution.
FINDINGS// During my research process, I came across the idea of how brand identities should touch on the emotional needs of customers so as to meet their expectations. A quote that really caught my attention in that regard was one by Marc Gobé: “sensorial research leads to emotional states that help bring a new set of communications on how people experience brands. There is a loyalty to a brand when the brand connect with our senses” (2007).
This quote inspired me to create an identity using colour to evoke feelings and flavours while telling a story about Thai
culture that is memorable. Adding elements that provoke the senses and emotions is like adding a whole new layer of meaning to identity design. Identity is not just a logo or how a package looks, it is the “visual and verbal expression of a brand. Identity supports, expresses, communicates, synthesizes, and visualizes the brand. You can see it, touch it, hold it, hear it, watch it move” (Wheeler, 2006).
Aside from “touching” people, brand identities are more effective when they are sensitive to a culture and the social activities and customs it relates to. As reinforced by Marc Gobé, “food is a form of social exchange, and is imbued with special meanings in many cultures. Brands that recognize this and respond accordingly will never leave customers with a bad taste in their mouths” (Gobé, 2007). This way of thinking is really important to my design: in Thailand, food has a special meaning, so much that it is seen as an expression of their own identity. The importance of sitting down and enjoying food for Thai people is such that the Thai equivalent of the casual greeting, “How are you?” translates as “Have you eaten rice?” (Thai, 1998).
CONCLUSION// Even though I believed the outcome of this project to be quite satisfactory, I realize that further primary research would be essential to make it more valid and prove its success or failure in impacting the audience. Unfortunately, the primary research done was limited to informal surveys conducted over the Internet, information gathered from visiting the restaurant and the development of a persona, which was helpful but had no data to back it up.
On the positive side, something of importance that I learned from this project is that designers, in their creative processes, can always go further than once thought. Shifting perspectives and coming up with dramatically different concepts after developing a first is essential for the growth of both the project and the designer.
1. Cross, N. (2001). Designerly Ways of Knowing: Design Discipline versus Design Science. Design Issues, 17(3), 49-55. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier, EBSCO.
2. Frascara, J. (1988). Graphic Design: Fine Art or Social Science?. In Bennett, A. (Ed.) Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press.
3. Gobé, M. (2010). Emotional Branding. New York, NY: Allworth Press.
4. Gobé, M. (2006). Brandjam: Humanizing Brands Through Emotional Design. New York, NY: Allworth Press.
5. Thai, B. (1998). Thai Cuisine: The Spice of Life. Thai Airways International.
6. Wheeler, A. (2006). Designing Brand Identity: A Complete Guide to Creating, Building and Maintaining Strong Brands. John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Fig 1. Amaral, T. (2009).
Fig 2. Amaral, T. (2009).
Fig 3. Amaral, T. (2009).
Fig 4. Amaral, T. (2009).
By Juljka Klingler//
It is apparent that in ecology, there is inter-connectivity with everything. One thing affects another, which in turn affects another. It seems like it is endless, almost beyond our comprehension. Sustainability is similar; you can always go deeper and deeper. In a way, lines need to be drawn; long-term planning and feasibility need to be integrated. Is sustainability a concept or an action in your work?
Yes. I actually came to Canada, to Emily Carr to do sustainable design. That is my passion. I am always trying to find better ways to design, while at the same time, taking care of the environment because I know that every action during the design process, as well as during the manufacturing and disposal of that product, will affect the environment. It is a big issue.
Who do you turn to? When you do your research, how do you know what you are doing is sustainable?
There are many things that I take into account. I always read books about design and sustainable design. I like to talk to people who are in that environment, teachers, and lecturers. I’m always trying to find the newest processes or technological advances to integrate into my work. This keeps me updated.
It is always changing.
That is the hard part.
Does co-creation and co-design play a role in your process?
Yes. I am from Mexico and the first stages of my current research involved co-creation where I went to talk to people in communities and villages, trying to participate with them in the design process, trying to include them. It is not about designing what I think is good for them, it is designing with them to I see what they really need.
How do you feel your process has changed from working in the field verses continuing your education?
Before coming here I was just focusing on developing a product. I was working as a furniture designer and the main thing was just to get things done. Here, at Emily Carr, during my Masters thesis, I learned critical thinking.
Process in always dependent on time. Do you feel you design better working on long-term projects or under shorter time constraints?
Short-term constraints. I feel like my productivity increases when I have a deadline.
In a sense, a Masters thesis is a long term project…
I think I have been feeling better since I have these mini-deadlines. Every two days I have to come up with new ideas. I think that is better, although I am tired. (Laughs)
Has any experience in particular changed the way you have approached your process?
I think it has a lot to do with my background. I learned to design in a way that would be considered shocking here. For instance, when I first worked in the wood shop at Emily Carr I didn’t know anything safety wise. I was just chopping big pieces of wood without any protection because I was taught this way. Then a teacher approached me and said, “What happened? Did you work in a sawmill?” I said “No, this is what I learned!” Besides that, in my process, in Mexico I had a lot of interaction with marginalized people. This is emphasized in my process. It wasn’t just my education but my experience there.
How did that experience show up in your process?
My thesis is research-based; it’s not a final product or a design of an object. It is called design for re-purposing. And before I describe what this is about I am going to tell you a little bit about where I got the inspiration. When I was growing up, when I was a kid, I observed how the marginalized people (in Mexico), used discarded objects and transformed them into something completely different but still useful. Like a rim from a truck, a guy turned into a grill. During my summer internship when I traveled to twelve communities and three cities, trying to find those examples, I realized that it was everywhere in Mexico. The good thing is that this transformation involves no waste. When I went to the recycling transfer station here in Vancouver, I saw lots of useful stuff in great condition, I thought, “this is not trash to me, this is like gold!” I saw a lot of opportunities here. I translated my observations in Mexico and created objects with affordances or features that make the object attractive so they are re-purposed, or transformed into something useful. It is another strategy among up-cycling or design for disassemble. All the products are designed with special little features, like holes or flanges so that when they become obsolete or broken, which happens every day, you can transform them into something useful. Re-purposing lengthens the longevity of a product and that is the main thing. The object reenters its life cycle.
Every piece in unique, I am assuming, or do you have multiples?
Yes, the ones that I found in Mexico, they are unique. You cannot find anything like it.
Designers often use both their left and right brain. What helps you make this shift or how do you know when to make this shift?
I think my mind works a little bit different. I am always thinking about the solution. I am not thinking about the background or what has been done. I detect the problem and then go from there. I don’t know if it is the best way but it works for me!
If you are presented with the problem, how do you find the solution right away?
Most of the time it is intuitive or in my imagination. Sometimes I believe if you know of other people who have found solutions to that problem already, you become limited because you know what already exists.
Sometimes the solutions are obvious in a way. For example with re-purposing. It has already been done. It is human nature to re-purpose. You can think about it in terms of this huge design theory of re-purposing or you can think about it as something that people do in their daily lives. They don’t that have to go through a design process. They do it because it is intuitive, are you thinking along those lines, thinking like them?
Yes. One thing also I want to add is that I like to keep my ideas simple. I want everyone to understand the solution, from high school students to PHD students.
Darinka Aguirre is currently completing her masters thesis at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Her work, discussed above, will be viewable in the upcoming 2010 grad exhibition held at Emily Carr.
By Juljka Klingler//
Nigel Cross describes the relationship between science and design. He writes that science requires standardized formulas and repeatable results, that it requires objectivity and absolutes, and that it is concerned with the nature of what already exists. Design, on the other hand, thrives on innovation through changing methods, allows for subjectivity and experimental knowledge and is concerned with things that which do not yet exist. This division is debatable and fluctuates. For example, your early work focuses on sustaining the civil liberties and quality of life in women. Is this work mainly concerned with what already exists (inequality, old power structures and social conventions) or do you feel you are more inspired by objectivity versus subjectivity?
It depends on the design work, how you approach it. There are times when you have to follow certain formulas. Sometimes I like to follow a formula but depending on the work I can just explore and be freer with it.
Every designer has his or her own processes and methodologies. How do you feel your process has changed from your education to actually working in the industry?
In my case, coming from an advertising background, I did not intend my work to be so driven by process. It was more about time management; the work was extremely fast paced. During my education I learned the value of process and therefore, while my approach to process has changed, the process itself has not. Now, because of my master’s thesis, I have learned not only the value of process but how to present it so that an audience too can value it.
The dynamics of process are certainly dependent on time. Do you feel you design better working on long-term projects or under a short time constraint?
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I work better under pressure, as perhaps many designers do. I feel I am able to do both types of projects. If the project is larger the scope increases and there is more to explore; with short-term projects there are limitations. However, designing better based on scope? That is questionable. Whatever the circumstances, you just have to keep your focus.
Designers often think vertically and horizontally using both their left and right brains. They are forced to consider the conceptual, the practical, the visual and the psychological aspects of their design. What helps you make this shift or how do you know when to make this shift?
I am aware of it but I am not thinking, “Now I am making the shift.” I am a very visual person. It has been a challenge for me. With my master’s degree I have learned to think with greater versatility as my thesis naturally involves writing but also incorporates a crucial visual component. If I am writing about the work, maybe because English is my second language, it is harder for me.
Not everyone feels like it is important to share process. Some designers feel sharing the process involves exposing trade secrets. In your opinion, why is design process important to the designer and important to share?
I used to think sharing process was like exposing secrets, that I would rather keep it to myself and just show the end product.
What made you change your mind?
I think if we share process people will value the design work more. They will be more averred. If you show the research they will appreciate the time and effort that went into the work, this is especially important for non-designers.
Working with other people is also an integral part of the designer’s process. How do you keep these relationships healthy?
You have to be able to learn from others, designers and non-designers alike. People are a great wealth of information and everyone may have an opinion about your work. The work itself, branding for example, is not just for the designer, it is for everyone and will be seen by all people. In terms of keeping the relationships healthy, I guess it is about respect for the ideas of others. When I am presenting work, if I am explaining process, I try and keep it as clear as possible and consider the audience.
Can you tell me a little bit about your thesis, what is it you are working on?
It is a branding design project for the National Research Council Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation. My project started off with my internship. There were a few small design assignments and from those I thought it would be an exciting opportunity to work in this new field and bring in my skills. It is a branding project that deals with emotions.
What is emotional branding?
It is a branding strategy. The French designer Marc Gobé came up with it. It is about creating an emotional connection between the brand and the user. My project is about creating it through multi-dimensional, multi-sensory design tools so that you actually feel very attached to the brand. It is about using conventional branding in an unconventional way. For an institution such as the National Research Council Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation it may not seem relevant but I think it can work and it should because they are working towards clean energy. The fuel cell, hydrogen technology, is purely clean energy. If more awareness is created and if there is more involvement, they can actually develop it. This project is for a good cause and is not only commercial. I try to use storytelling in branding design. I have 2D and 3D deliverables, a tactile book object and an animation that showcases the brand identity. My written thesis is about, again, storytelling and branding, examining emotional branding and way-finding behavior. I have a whole chapter on research and mental mapping. Very briefly, it involves the physiological aspects and how I can use this unique theory to enrich my visual work.
Defne Corbacioglu is currently immersed in graduate studies. Her work, discussed above, will be viewable in the upcoming 2010 grad exhibition held at Emily Carr.
By Deborah Shackleton, Associate Professor//
ABSTRACT// The boundaries between the conventional design disciplines are blurring (Rodgers, 2008). As such, new praxis spaces are emerging that present new opportunities for collaboration with clients and audiences.
By Pamela Troyer//
ABSTRACT// The project reviewed in this document was a collaborative task with the goal of developing an interactive object for children. The project was completed with the assistance of two young co-creators aged six and nine.