interaction, experience, social   |   spring 2014

An integrated project with stages from 2D communication design and physical translation to creating an interactive social intervention experience. With Jesse KleinHannah SalinasTemple ReaBrian Yang and Bonnie Chan. 


Code was an octopus of a project - it touched upon research, communication, principles in composition and visual gestalts, physical manifestation of concepts, and social interactions. It started as a collective effort of designing a unique visual code for Millennials, and moved from explorations in the 2D visual language to creating meaning in the physical world. Ultimately through promoting and advocating the code to the neighborhood, the project evolved into a study into human interactions and allowed us to engage with the society. 



Before it all began...

As a class we split into four groups to research into the history of language, history of visual communication, compiling an inventory of Millennials and the 40 most commonly used phrases of Millennials. I was part of the last group, where we collected and analysed everyone's text messages and generated 40 essential elements in our language, either phrases as 'Hey', 'Thank you' or helper nouns as 'past', 'present' to communicate time and place. 

40 symbols designed by our whole class, for the 40 phrases we picked.

40 symbols designed by our whole class, for the 40 phrases we picked.

Phase 1: Designing a symbol

We each chose a phrase or element and designed a symbol for it only using geometric shapes. My phrase was 'How are you'. I used circles and lines to create a sense of asking and receiving, a symbol reminiscent of a pat on the shoulder, a casual passing greeting, a genuine question out of concern. 

The symbol I created for  How are you

The symbol I created for How are you

Phase 2: Creating a pattern

We carefully selected a square crop of our symbols and tessellated it into a 3 by 3 grid. Creating the pattern allowed us to train our eyes for composition and visual gestalt. Both the symbol and the pattern were hand-crafted.

Phase 3: Physical translation

We created a physical translation of our symbol which not only retained the form of the symbol, but also informed the meaning of the phrase it represented. Engagement between two people is what 'How are you' is about - I wanted to capture the brief connection people have when they greet each other. The rings with magnetic ends connect briefly as people fist bump, and the two come together to form the symbol.

Phase 4: Advocate

By way of introducing the code to the society, our group decided to advocate more face to face interactions and conversations between strangers, and to encourage people especially college students to talk to people they have never met or people who are not like them. For each of the 40 symbols, we generated prompts for conversations - 'JK': 'Tell a joke', 'You': 'Say 3 things about you that no one knows because nobody ever asked", 'Sorry': 'Talk about your guilty pleasure'. Check out the video to see what we did! 



Learning outcome

  • Crowdsourcing data of Millennials' language usage, analysing it and making meaningful generalizations
  • Translating social language to a series of abstract representation through designing a symbol
  • Developing meaning into geometric shapes
  • Understanding visual gestalt, form and counter form, contrast and scale in pattern generation
  • Translating meaning from 2D media to 3D media and creating interactive experiences through the design of physical representations
  • Engaging with the local community with advocacy/marketing campaign, fostering interactions between strangers through designing interactive immersive experiences based on the designed "code"