Oblique Strategies

You maybe heard about the Oblique Strategies, an infamous card set for idea generation, created in 1975 by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. Not only has it been adapted and re-hashed numerous times in various media, including websites, a MaxMSP patch, and a reincarnation as anagrams.

It also appears to be a very popular subject of assignments in Interaction Design education. A search on Github returns currently 138 results, many of which appear to be teaching assignments.

3 reports for Oblique Strategies

#1 – Stratagèmes obliques, Eracom

Host institution: Eracom, Lausanne
Instructors: Aurélie Camuset, Manuel Schmalstieg
Timeframe: February-June 2018
Number of students: 11

This design assignment consisted in two parts: first, the students, working in pairs, had to create a series of 20 – 30 illustrations and to design a printed set of cards, including an original packaging.

The second part consisted in creating a website that would allow to browse the cards and illustrations. The website was completed in June 2018, and can be visited at

The source code is available on Github, and a detailed write-up has been posted.

#2 – Oblique Strategies at Westtown School, Philadelphia

An assignment by teacher and artist Chris Wills (AP Studio Art, Westtown School, Philadelphia).

In Graphic Design: Portfolio Development I developed a unit based on these challenges and directives. Students were tasked with transforming a project that they had developed earlier in the semester using one of the oblique strategies. This challenge allowed students to build on ideas of typography, narrative photography, or poster design that had already been studied in previous months. Students were not to revise the original work, but to transform it into something else altogether.  The designers had to include visual references to the original work within the new piece, but not replicate past work.

Source of the assignment:

#3 – Oblique Strategies at IXD Belfast

Host institution: IXD Belfast, Belfast School of Art
Instructors: Christopher Murphy (in 2017), Paul McCormack (in 2018)
Number of Students: 17
Type of Class: UX Module, Designing User Experiences

The brief, summarized by Paul McCormack:

The brief was to recreate a digital version of Eno and Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies. This could be in the form of an app or website, a connected device, an AR/VR piece… Anything that would push the boundaries and try to enhance the card-based principle of the original.

Some of the student projects:

Related links:
Source repository by instructor Christopher Murphy.
A browser extension for Chrome, created by William Park. “For this part of the masterclass, I took the oblique strategies idea and turned it into a Chrome Extension. The extension will show an oblique strategy every time the user opens a new tab.”