Interactive Storytelling for Packaging: Design Using Augmented Technology to Explore Personal and Social Identities

Students explore and investigate the abstract concepts of personal, social, and intersectional identities.

Linh Dao
Assistant Professor
California Polytechnic State University

Alcoholic beverage labels captivate and fascinate. Some excite with promises of novelties, while others connect on a deeper level, reaching for similarity or intimacy. Yet they all have one thing in common: they vary in their levels of authenticity. Designers tell stories for their clients. Some never get to tell their own. 

A package design expresses brand identity, as well as personal identities, in addition to building relationships with consumers. In the classroom, such a project should encourage students to tell their own stories, especially if they are underrepresented or marginalized. The project would allow students to both develop and explore their identities, as well as connect and build their communities. 

The Interactive Storytelling for Packaging Design project was designed specifically for that purpose. It uses the theoretical framework of the identity wheels developed by the University of Michigan as a starting point. It helps students explore and investigate the abstract concepts of personal, social, and intersectional identities. Students are then encouraged to consider the format of a physical package as a self-portrait, with the exterior and the interior being the more and less obvious identities that are more or less keenly felt in different social contexts. While identities are ever-changing, the fact that they can have an effect on how we treat others remains the same. 

This project aims to (1) to be actively unbiased towards privileged, white, mid-socioeconomic cultures and (2) to tackle the topic of identity in a substantive way of fostering identity development beyond elementary visual representation. 

The project is exciting because it pairs abstract concepts with emerging new technology. Students learn to formulate their ideas, creating assets, and building the prototypes. They get the opportunity to blend both 2D and 3D graphics. They can write their own unconventional narrative about themselves and connect to consumers in an intimate yet powerful way. The opportunities are endless. 

My presentation explains how augmented reality can be used to add interactive storytelling elements to a traditional beverage label package design. It outlines the appropriate parameters of such a project for a graphic design classroom, including contextual background, technology implementation, and limitations. It also includes student deliverables consisting of print designs and augmented reality extensions that are playable on mobile devices such as the iPhone or the iPad.

The Fusion of Art, Science and Technology

The integration of artistic expression into current technological design methods.

Min Kyong Pak
Assistant Professor
University of Southern Indiana

In our high-tech modern world, scientists and artists push the limits of fusion and innovation to create new avant-garde narratives, emerging formats, and technological platforms. Technology and medium are constantly evolving. The demand for better quality in new media, storytelling and medium continue to evolve. Examples of new media include artificial intelligence, augmented reality, data visualization, interactive media, human-computer interface, video games, and virtual reality. In order to create this new media, artists are required to use code, data, and algorithms.

Storytelling is not merely confined to spoken or written words. There are many ways by which a designer can tell a story. A designer can exploit cutting-edge advances in science and technology to tell a story with artistic influence. My interest is to integrate artistic expression into current technological design methods. This project will give a voice to ideas that touch and affect us on a daily basis, search for who we are, and relate to our environmental world around us. The result is to infuse art, technology, and culture in the context of a community or geographical location. The greatest work of art connects and engages with our senses, heart, soul, and mind.

We live in a complex world. The digital age provides us with many opportunities to rebuild and adapt to an ever-evolving continuum. Both art and science are forms of exploration. Designers explore innovative designs, and scientists find the answers. Both transform reality and innovation to push our expectations and imaginations. My vision is to bridge the gap between art and science to create the best 21st century design. I believe the fusion of art, science, and technology is transformative and revolutionary.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2: CAA 2020 Conference Chicago on February 14, 2020.

Explorations of Data Lists: How Type, Hierarchy, and Color Reveal the Stories About the Titanic

Level one typography students think about data and typographic hierarchy.

Peggy Bloomer
Adjunct Professor
Quinnipiac University
Southern Connecticut State University

In this project I hoped to make level one typography students think about data and typographic hierarchy with. In my experience, students are not concerned about the data that is collected about them. I hoped to broaden their understanding of the power of data through their creation of a large format poster (24” x 26”) using lists about the passengers on the Titanic purchased from the “Encyclopedia Britannica.”

The textbook for the class is Ellen Lupton’s Thinking About Type. This assignment is an adaptation of Lupton’s hierarchy assignment “Long Lists.” According to Lupton, hierarchy is the organization of content using the spatial clues of indents, line spacing and placement. Other graphic elements that distinguish content include size, style and color.

Researching the list of passengers, students were asked to find human stories. The lists contained information about 1st, 2nd, 3rd class passengers and employees of the Titanic. Surnames, servants, gender, age, nationalities and origin of embarkment were provided. The poster was created in InDesign without photographic images. Students could use and InDesign tools to create color elements and many created ships, funnels, waves and other shapes.

The traditional process of information gathering, sketching and mocking up was used for designing the posters. In-class critiques of 3 smaller 11 x 17” versions helped students realize what was successful or not. Final versions were created to the larger size, printed, presented in class and hung in the department hallway for viewing.

In conclusion, most students realized the economic and gender consequences for passengers. One student used color to emphasize families and the impact was powerful: families died from infants to parents. The students gained knowledge about the power of simple data and almost all of them used size, style and color effectively. The use of indents, line spacing and style guides were not as successful. In the future, I plan to incorporate a slide show of memorials that include powerful images such as Flanders Field, The Vietnam Memorial and the Holocaust Memorial.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.1: Quinnipiac University on October 5, 2019.

Storytelling: Balancing the Head, Heart, and Gut

Kelly BishopVP, Product & Design
The Onion
Fusion Media Group

Creating designs is only one step of the process. How we tell the story around our designs and receive feedback is how we move forward and make our designs a reality. This talk will teach you how to harness the power of storytelling by first understanding ourselves and using four key factors to form your story.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 5.1: DePaul University on October 27, 2018.

Story-Doing Concepts

To create a fundamental shift to what a brand or entity’s story can do for the greater good, we have to think of storytelling in terms of actions.

Robin Landa  
Distinguished Professor
Michael Graves College, Kean University

Underpinning any successful brand or nonprofit is a distinctive story. In today’s global economy, to differentiate a brand, social cause, or organization in people’s minds, storytelling is critical. That story involves brand values and strategy—what a brand or entity stands for and communicates. To create a fundamental shift to what a brand or entity’s story can do for the greater good, we have to think of storytelling in terms of actions. Ty Montague and Rosemarie Ryan, creative directors at co: collective, call this proposition StoryDoing.

Rather than conceiving promotional communication design that merely tells the brand story, I teach students to conceive promotional design concepts that involve beneficial actions on the part of the brand or entity. To conceive story-­‐doing concepts, one needs to restructure the idea generation process to embrace social good. Can the communication design solutions contribute to society in terms of beneficial messaging, a business platform (think Bombas or Warby Parker), or charitable works?

Think of how Dove brand advertising changed the conversation about beauty through their Real Beauty campaigns. Dove listened to the negative messaging women were writing on social media and set out to change the conversation. Partnering with NBA star Kevin Durant, Kind Snacks announced their goal was to “launch a new cultural initiative that aims to challenge deeply rooted stereotypes and redefine cultural perceptions of strength and kindness.” Instead of merely promoting Kind Snacks, their communication design goals included changing the conversation about what it means to be strong.

The story-doing proposition can become an organizing principle for conceiving communication design concepts incorporating socially positive actions on the part of a brand. To shift the brand storytelling paradigm to a story-doing one, students must learn how to conceive brand stories with organic beneficial actions. This presentation will center on teaching students to conceive story-doing design projects.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.4: Parsons Integrated Design on Thursday, June 14, 2018.

The Sit&Tell Project

Service Award Winner

Jenn Stucker
Associate Professor
Bowling Green State University

The Sit&Tell Project was a multi-participatory community-based art project that connected communities through pulling up a chair and sharing stories of Strong Women of Toledo. The project collected 100 stories as told by Toledo citizens as storytellers on World Storytelling Day (WSD), March 20, 2016 under the global theme of Strong Women. Based on the Toledo Arts Commission’s 2015 Strategic Plan for Arts & Culture, eight (8) neighborhoods were cited to illuminate, thus were chosen to be the sites of the story collections. On WSD, teams were sent to the Collingwood Arts Center, Toledo Public Library, The National Museum of the Great Lakes, The Ohio Theater, the Sofia Quintero Art & Cultural Center and The Fredrick Douglass Community Center to collect the 100 stories through in-person interviews. These recorded stories were told by or were about women recognized by their families, communities or organizations as strong and influential. Following the collection, the stories were assigned to juried (jurors: Andrew Shea, Antionette Carroll, Keetra Dean Dixon) artists/designers to visualize 100 chairs. The donated chairs from MTS Seating went on display at rolling exhibitions in those neighborhoods throughout the summer of 2016 with each chair containing a specific URL numbering to direct viewers to the corresponding audio recording of the story.

A preview event for 150 guests on June 14, 2016 unveiled 30 chairs at AIGA Toledo’s Pre-conference Cocktail Reception + Welcome talk for AIGA’s Nuts+Bolts Conference, followed by the first neighborhood launch of ten (10) chairs at the National Museum of the Great Lakes, with positive local press. During the summer a chair a day for 100 days was posted on social media outlets. All 100 chairs were featured in a final closing exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art on September 24, 2016. In November, the chairs were sold through an online auction and the $7,500 raised was donated to the Toledo Arts Commission for art classes for young people in those neighborhoods.

The Sit&Tell Project participation included 180 storytellers and artists, eight community exhibition locations, 15 WSD listeners/volunteers, four BGSU Media and Communication undergraduates and an MC faculty member who collected WSD footage and audio, plus two BGSU Digital Arts graduate students and a DA faculty mentor who shot additional footage and edited the final video. Of the 100 designed chairs, the juried pool included 21 BGSU undergraduate graphic design students, eight BGSU School of Art faculty members, 32 BGSU alums, one chair by a graphic design class at Whitmer High School in Toledo and remaining chair designs by Toledo area artists. Exhibition venues expressed a deep gratitude for participating in the project and all stated they experienced an increase in their visitations.

SitTell overview

Jenn Stucker is an associate professor and division chair of Graphic Design at BGSU. She earned her BFA at BGSU and her MFA from Eastern Michigan University, both in graphic design. Jenn’s research interests include Design as Artist and Practitioner, Design as Scholarship of Engagement, and the Scholarship of Design Pedagogy. Her work has been published in several books on design and has received various award recognitions including, HOW Magazine’s 2013 and the 2017 International Design Awards for her community-based works, The You Are Here Toledo Project and the Sit&Tell Project. She is the co-founder/organizer of SWEAT (Summer Workshop for Experimentation and Thought,) a collaborative experience in experimental modes of making. She is also a founding board member of AIGA Toledo and has served in numerous leadership roles. Jenn has previously co-chaired two national AIGA Design Education conferences and has presented at several conferences across the country.

Recipient of recognition in the Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2017.