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briefs

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 oblique-strategies.github.io.

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: www.chriswillsart.com

#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.”

Categories
briefs

A bird in the hand…

An assignment, created by a teacher at Central Saint Martins, quoted by Nina Paim in an interview at Brno Biennial:

‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ – Prove this visually”.

Categories
briefs

20-minute music app

A brief created by Hike One, a digital product design company from the Netherlands:

We gave 32 of our designers the assignment to create a music app in 20 minutes, in teams of 4. Every group was provided with a set of basic music icons and some music related imagery that gave them a head start.

Source: Medium, February 2017.

Categories
briefs

Wikipedia drawings

This workshop proposes to participants to:

  • select a Wikipedia article that could benefit from an illustration.
  • produce an illustrative drawing for that article.

3 reports for Wikipedia drawings

#1 – Wikipedia Illustrated

“Wikipedia Illustrated” was a workshop initiated by artist/illustrator Galia Offri and by designer/educator Mushon Zer-Aviv.

Host institution: Transmediale, Berlin, February 2011

During the workshop at Transmediale, images are created as illustrations for articles such as: Ash heap of history, Hikikomori, Moustache …

Links:

#2 – Drawing for Wikipedia

Host institution: Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons the New School for Design, New York
Timeframe: October-November, 2012 (three workshop sessions)

A proposal by Michael Mandiberg, building on the work of Wikipedia Illustrated and others. Illustrators and graphic designers are invited to join Michael Mandiberg to create images and illustrations for environmentally oriented Wikipedia pages.

Our goal will be to use visual language to explain complex concepts without over simplifying them. This could range from the factual, such as diagrams of biological or chemical phenomena, maps of environmental issues/disasters, or charts, to the poetic or expressive.

Links:

#3 – Wikipedia drawings : design portraits

Host institution: Eracom, Lausanne
Timeframe: half day (4 hours)

During a half day workshop, a group of five students has created portraits of major figures of swiss design history, in order to illustrate their articles on Wikipedia: Karl Gerstner, Armin Hofmann, Josef Müller-Brockmann, Emil Ruder, Rosmarie Tissi, Wolfgang Weingart

Participants: Sophie Berry, Teo Dolci, Nelson Tavares, Samantha Trinkler, Marina Volet.

 

Links: 

The portraits on Wikimedia Commons

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briefs

Student Bio Website

Use the basics of HTML to make a personal website.

Source: Sara Shields, web design and publishing course, Texas State University.

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briefs

CSS Zen Garden

In this assignment, students create their own version of the CSS Zen Garden.

Source: Scott Granneman, teaching at Washington University, St. Louis.

Observation: it could be interesting to do an exercice that is “similar to it but on a component level”. For an example, see the article “Same HTML, Different CSS” by Ahmad Shadeed.

Categories
briefs historical

Composition with initials

Rosmarie Tissi, in an interview by Louise Paradis (TM Research Archive), describes an assignment for a workshop she directed at Yale in 1991:

For the Yale workshop I thought of something simple and asked the class to make a composition with their initials. An easy task but some of the results were almost paintings; some very esoteric.

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briefs

Calendar Grid

A design problem by Ellen Lupton, from Graphic Design: The New Basics (2008):

  1. Create a spread in a two-page document. Each page is 7.5 x 7.5 inches.
  2. Devise a weekly calendar system that divides each page into seven days. Use lines, shapes, and typography to mark and identify the space. Leave space for a user to write down notes and appointments.
  3. Think creatively about the underlying problem. The rhythm and structure of the grid can be vertical or horizontal, regular or irregular, rectilinear or diagonal.
Categories
briefs

specimen books

Source: original brief by Manuel Schmalstieg, February 2013.

Participants design a specimen book of typefaces. They select a number of interesting typefaces, and create specimen pages. The pages are assembled into a book, which may be published using a print-on-demand service.

Typical steps during this brief:

  • Define the scope of the book: What type of typefaces are to be chosen? How many pages will be produced by each participant? What will be the sample text?
  • Create a specimen template that will be used by each participant. Each student should design a template, and during a critical session one of the template is chosen.
  • Once the template is defined, the students can begin to create the specimens.
  • In addition to the template-based specimens, each students should design a few pages of freeform, individual specimens where they can to break all rules and display the fonts in unexpected ways.
  • To finish the book, some more things must be designed: cover page, backcover, introduction pages, index.

Bibliography: to give the students a frame of reference and inspiration, it’s a good idea to show them some specimen books. Maybe your school has some of them in the library. A few examples: specimen books by designers (Jean-Baptiste Levée, Radim Pesko), the iPad app of FontFont, the Free Font Index, books by Fred Smeijers…

2 reports for specimen books

#1 – L’Eve future – HEAD Geneva

First implementation of the “Specimen Books” workshop.
Host institution: HEAD Geneva.
Instructor: Manuel Schmalstieg
Timeframe: 18-22 February 2013, five days (ca 40 hrs).
Students: 11.

#2 – Specimen Books: EAA La Chaux-de-Fonds

Second implementation of the “Specimen Books” workshop.

Host institution: EAA La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Instructor: Manuel Schmalstieg
Timeframe: May 2013, 5 half-day sessions (ca. 20 hrs).

Following the success of the first implementation at HEAD Geneva, I proposed a second iteration of that workshop concept to a class in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Participants: Olivier Borel, Patricia Monteiro, Anthony Bühler, Lori Droel, Emilie Mojon, Yannick Chautems, Marie Lechot, Quantin Perrenoud.

Some differences compared to the previous workshop:

– Instead of working with Adobe InDesign, students worked with open-source layout software Scribus.
– Instead of one common sample text, students chose a different text for each specimen. The concept: descriptions of films taken from french Wikipedia (the title of the film isn’t revealed).
– The workshop duration was 50% shorter: 20 hours (5 half-day sessions).

Final result: a PDF of 153 pages, gathering 79 specimens. The attempt to produce a print version failed due to time constraints.

Categories
briefs

the JS clocks

Design a self-contained website that measures time (hours, minutes, possibly seconds or milliseconds).

In other words, create a digital watch face, filling a screen, written in HTML/CSS/JS (and maybe SVG).

Possible improvement: if you want to focus on “best development practices”, you could have the students work up to a certain point on their project, then re-assign them randomly. Students will have to complete and debug the code of another student. This will be a lesson in code readability. See this Github thread.

1 report for the JS clocks

#1 – JS clocks at Eracom, Lausanne

The first implementation of the JS Clocks has been carried out at Eracom, Lausanne, in autumn 2017. A number of student projects were exhibited during the schools Open Doors, in December 2017.

Participants: Giani Agolino, Jonas Buxcel, Benjamin Coffrini, Lucie Ecuyer, Dany Fatana Neves, Rachel Gasser, Claire Graber, Jérémie Kursner, Luan Mendes de Moura, Sarah Meylan, Paul Mottaz, Baltazar Nanchen, Julien Nshimirimana, Anaïs Schaer, Zoé Schwyzer, Gonçalo Vieira Machado, Stephanie Wilson

Demo site: eracom-gr461.github.io/jsclocks/