Our team of designers were inspired by an illustration drawn by former IDEO design strategist, Damien Newman. He explains that in the process of design, “it might be uncertain in the beginning, but in the end we’d focus on a single point of clarity.” Expanding on Newman’s illustration, we also recognized that design is an iterative process; after a design is finalized, it can be verified, improved, and strengthened.
We decided to divide our design process into three phases: FIND, REFINE, and REFIND. The initial FIND phase is filled with unclear ideas which we then try to develop and narrow our focus in the REFINE phase. In the third phase, the squiggle continues forward where it can restart the process again where we reiterate to REFIND new meanings and connections.
In a physical space for this exhibition, our team wanted to amplify the experience of each step individually. The beginning phase for us was exploring how we could use illusion as a way to communicate the state of mind during the FIND phase, but also allow guests to emerge from that ambiguity to figure out the meaning of concepts.
As a graphic motif, we use free-form, red lines to represent disorderly ideas and blue, concentric circles to serve as those refined ideas. Together, these two elements converge to express the design process of finding valuable ideas within a chaotic cloud.
The red filter represents the process of using design to evaluate problems. Upon entering the gallery, the viewer encounters the FIND accent wall and are invited to use the red lens to explore hidden messages on the walls. As the viewer travels through the gallery, the walls appear more refined. This progressive refinement relates to the red filter process of blocking out specific colors. Similarly, the refinement process in design requires paring down unnecessary or excessive elements. Only at distinct points of clarity the viewer is able to realize an idea that may have been obstructed at first glance.
In addition to the exhibition, the team created promotional materials to publicize the event. In addition to posters, pins, and labels, we designed brochures and invitations that incorporates the same illusion as the REFIND exhibition. By using a red film, guests are able to reveal the message encoded on the invitation.
The process of design encompasses two major aspects of finding meaning and refining ideas, but design is a cycle of reiteration in which we continually refind new perspectives and relationships. We hope the exhibition inspired other young students to look deeper into the meaning of design and how it can be used to shape our understanding.
Credits: Emily Adams, Carly Agas, Michael Castro, Marisa Hsu, Pui Chi Lao, Tina Liu, Marcos Martinez, Natalie Panchenko, & Nicole Sasano.