Faces of Design
Inspired by AIGA's 2017 Design Census, our goal was to gather and visualize census data about design professionals in Pittsburgh, PA who are alumni of Carnegie Mellon's School of Design.
Faces of Design is an interactive installation that allows visitors to explore the connections between 34 design professionals, particularly their school experiences in relation to their career path.
Role & Contributions
My team wrote a survey asking School of Design alumni about their school and summer experiences, as well as other factors that influenced their current career choice. We selected 6 questions from our survey that we felt best showed the journey from student to professional designer:
- Learned to define a problem and identify its constraints, audience, physical context and assumptions going in.
- Learned the differences in designing for long-term use (website) and short-term calls to action (pop-up shop, bag).
- Learned to design a cohesive system with multiple touchpoints.
- Practiced developing a visual voice that is appropriate for an intended message and subject matter.
The responses we received were anecdotal, compelling and thoughtful. In order to keep the integrity of the content, we wanted our design to allow for deeper understanding of the individuals while displaying their interconnectedness as CMU alumni. We brainstormed different ways to highlight the connections and surprising similarities between all the diverse stories we received.
Exploring 3D Form
The team explored 2D, screen-based interfaces like these for a while, but then we got the idea to use a 3D interface to increase interactivity. We felt that cubes would make an interesting physical form, because they can be reminiscent of building blocks and their connotation of play and exploration. Additionally, they have discrete faces that would allow us to clearly hold distinct types of information. We decided to put one question on each face of the cube.
In this interface, mapped out below, each cube represents one designer who answered our survey. The "active" cube acts like a remote for the interface, revealing information with each of its faces. The side that is face down is "read" by the system, and its corresponding answer is displayed on the larger surface. Then, highlights would draw attention to cubes with similar stories to the active one, and show the snippets of those stories that make them related.
We worked to create a visual skin for our cubes that would communicate the meaning of the faces. Exploring a range of abstract and literal representations, we looked for ways to visually represent the questions we posed.
Below are some of my individual explorations, with influence from my group mates.
The final cube design shows the designer's position title and company on the top face. The other 5 faces each sport a graphic representing one survey question. We used simple shapes that suggested letters paired with categorical words, as we found the meaning to be most accessible to people in this form. The color palette was chosen for being appealing and not too flashy. We later used motion to help clarify the intended interaction as well (next section).
We imagined the piece existing in a space where visitors (of the School of Design, perhaps) can walk up and interact freely. To explain the project and how to interact with it, we decided to include an introductory video that would be triggered by sensors when someone walked up. The team worked on the video script together, and I animated several parts of it.
Proof of Concept
As a proof of concept, the team set up a mock installation with the cubes. Using wizard of Oz techniques, we projected the digital interface and responsive interactions to communicate the feeling of exploring our census data.
- Exploring collected data and identified points of interest by layering it together
- Designing for the experience of discovery
- Balancing readability and clarity of information in a large and physical interactive display, especially when using motion
- Storytelling for a clear proof of design concept
Although explorative and abstract, I see this project as possibly a proof of concept for an interactive experience that could enhance data-driven stories. For example, if I were to revisit this project, I would like to explore its adaptation to a social media product or a networking platform like LinkedIn.