Experience by Design: Project 1

Experience by Design: Project 1

Click on the following links to jump to specific phases of the project
Phase A  /  Phase B  /  Phase C  /  Phase D  /  Phase E

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Experience By Design is a context-driven course created for the Gordon IN Orvieto program and taught in the spring of 2015. In this course, students consider concepts of representation, memory, identity, text, and place as they explore and represent their experiences in Orvieto through a body of work. The first project has multiple compounding phases. Once students complete each phase, they receive instructions for the next activity of the five-phase project. This process encourages students to get lost in the present “design moment” rather than designing for a preconceived end result. The introduction of the project and the first “Phase A activity” are outlined in the following project brief that students received on the first day of class.


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Phase A: Investigate and Research the Visual Language of Orvieto

In the first phase of the project, students were instructed to collect and create a variety of images and artifacts that reference Orvieto. Below is a selection of images from student work for Phase A:

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Phase A (continued): Studio Activity

After a class critique of all the Phase A artifacts and images, students spread out their work on the studio floor and invited fellow classmates to identify a simple visual element that is dominant in each set of images/artifacts.

Proj1-PhaseA StudioActivity2Students reviewed each others’ images and drew enclosed forms that related to their classmates’ work.

At the end of this exercise, each student had two to four images, elements, or shapes contributed by some of their classmates.

Now the students were asked to cut out these shapes, which resulted in a paper stencil.

In addition, each student mixed a two to three color palette using any medium of their choosing and integrated the medium of black ink as well. They then use the paper stencil to apply the ink and the palette colors on strategically selected portions of their Phase A images/artifacts. In this process, they were encouraged to experiment, play, make mistakes, and allow accidents in the application and use of the stencils, ink, and colors.

Proj1-PhaseA StudioActivity M.Butterworth Proj1-PhaseA StudioActivity1-CarlyGroff2 Proj1-PhaseA StudioActivity1-AngelaLowe1 Proj1-PhaseA StudioActivity1-A.Riggs1 Proj1-PhaseA StudioActivity1-A.Manning3 Proj1-PhaseA StudioActivity1-V.Pearson1

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Phase B: Image Boards – Aesthetic Organization

Phase B requires students to “aesthetically organize” elements from the Phase A activity by identifying visual connections and relationships in their collected and created artifacts and images. To facilitate this process, students received the following “Phase B” project brief.


Students organized visual elements by creating a series of five “image boards” at two specific size options (letter or tabloid). There was a class critique of all image boards. The following is a sampling from that class critique.

After the class critique of the image boards, students selected what they thought was the least successful image board from their set of five and placed it at the front of the studio.

Proj1-PhaseB-Studio Act- Final4 - z-Leftover3

“Rejected” image-boards from Phase B

Students then selected an image board from two of their fellow classmates. The “rejected” images were also open for selection. At the end of this process, each student had two of their own image boards, and two that they did not create, resulting in a new set of four image boards for each student (as seen below).

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Phase C: Creative Editing, Simplification, and Structure

For this phase of the project, students created a series of high contrast drawings based on a location in Orvieto. Emphasis was placed on minimalism. Each image was stripped to its essential visual elements without tipping over to pure geometric abstraction.

The following “Phase C” project brief detailed this process.

A class critique of all the drawings helped students to select the most effective composition from their set of five images.

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Phase D: Synthesis, Collage, Formation of Meaning


For phase D, students where given a 9×12″ white envelop. Masking tape was applied on the outside edge of the envelope creating about an inch margin around the envelope. The selected image from Phase C was then transferred on to the envelop by rubbing graphite on the back of the drawing and then tracing the lines as follows:

Once the image was transferred to the envelop, Students were asked to take their least favorite drawing from Phase C, and their stack of four images boards from the completion of Phase B, and place them all into the envelope that was then sealed shut.

Proj1-PhaseC-a-Placing ImageBoards in Env1Students then cut along the lines of their minimalist drawing on the envelop with an X-acto knife. This resulted in many different image fragments varying in shapes and sizes.

All fragments were collected after the completion of this process.

The fragments became the “raw material” for a series of ten well-refined collages that work together as a series. Students needed to create strong individual collages but also have all ten collages work as a complete series (diversity and unity, simultaneously). Additional elements, colors, and mediums could be used with the cut image fragments.

In addition to the image fragments from the envelop, all the “rejected” image boards from the completion of Phase B were randomly cut by David Kasparek and placed in a “communal” pile for anyone to use and integrate into their ten final collages.

An entire studio day was dedicated to working on the ten collage series. More refined compositions and craft were emphasized during this phase of the project. A class critique of the ten collage series was scheduled for the start of the next class day.

Project1 Phase D-crit5

We critiqued various formal aspects of each of the collage sets such as composition, color, structure, balance, etc. But the critique also probed questions of meaning. Specifically, how the process of the project (up to this point) could work as an external method for synthesizing fragments of visual elements that reference the ‘place’ of Orvieto. This process is analogous to how we personally create memory from our fragments of experiences related to a place.

Collette Newcombe

Collette Newcombe

Project1 Phase D-A.Shive

Anna Shive

Carly Groff

Carly Groff

Brianna Larson-Jackson

Brianna Larson-Jackson

Project1 Phase D detail-V.Pearson2

Victoria Pearson

Theresa Sterling

Theresa Sterling

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Phase E: Collaboration and Communal Experience

For the final phase of this project, students would work together to create a single piece from all their individual collages. The following project brief provided information and guidelines to facilitate this collaborative process.


Students were first asked to pair up their collages based on a structural or visual relationship.

Each pair of collages were then glued back to back forming five two-sided “collage cards.”

Project1 Phase E (studio)3

Project1 Phase E (studio)4

Eight thin slits were then cut into each of their five collage cards as follows.

Students were now introduced to Charles and Ray Eames’s House of Cards project. This modular image game would be the means and structure by which the entire class could join all their work- the culmination of previous phases of the project – together into one piece. On a conceptual level, the process represented the communal, or collective, experience of living and learning in Orvieto.

Students were encouraged to work together in discovering interesting juxtapositions of images and elements that would inform how the pieces, and the overall structure, could be constructed and take form.

The students worked together for the rest of the day to complete the final piece. The final critique of the project was scheduled for the following morning at the start of class.

Project1 Phase E (Final Crit)2

Final collaborative piece

Project1 Phase E (Final Crit)7

Project1 Phase E (Final Crit)3

One area of critique with the final collaborative piece was that it was too visually busy and needed more areas of pause. In future iterations of this project, students could be encouraged to form more varied compositions – some minimal, some with large color blocks – that would punctuate and provide visual areas of rest in the final piece.

From left to right: Abi Flynn, Theresa Sterling, Tucker Trimble, Brianna Larson-Jackson, Marin Butterworth, Alex Rivera, Mariah Geiger, Carly Groff, Katelynn Riggs, Andrew Manning, Anna Shive, Angela Lowe, Collette Newcombe