Rounding the Corner

Today was one of the best days I’ve had in months, and I don’t think it can be entirely attributed to my massive caffeine intake.

I spent my entire morning grading assignments, drinking yerba maté, and watching small birds dine at our feeder. We are most frequented by house finches, and at one point we had six of them fluttering about on our deck. The chickadees are rather entertaining, how they grasp sunflower seeds between their feet and noisily peck them open. This morning we were even paid a visit by a male red bellied woodpecker, who was quite enormous considering our bird feeder is no larger than a cigar box.

My love for these birds isn’t universal, however. I hate the sparrows, or as I call them, hobo finches.

As most great stories often end, eventually I had to go to school. Today we were sharing and critiquing proofs for our final typography project, and my “Western U.S. ruggedness meets European luxury via turn-of-the-century railway hotels” concept for an Akzidenz-Grotesk specimen book went over well. I got a lot of really good feedback from my classmates, too, and I’m excited to continue refining my work.

After hearing everyone share horror stories about color printing and registration and all that “recto-verso” jazz, however, I must say I’m a tad apprehensive about this whole “physical materiality” thing. I definitely want to move beyond the intangible nature of digital work, but the hardships of producing a double-sided color print sound akin to sailing the Cape Horn, and leave me wondering how the heck I’m going to pull this thing off. I don’t know what kind (or even size, for that matter) of paper I’m going to use, and I certainly don’t know how I’m going to slap ink on it… let alone more than one color of ink. And sheesh, more than one side? Maybe Kinko’s will save my ass.

However, last night I did put together a couple of book binding prototypes, properly armed with a stapler, stylish paper, this week’s 20%-off coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond, and Super 77:


And folks, Super 77 needs to be inducted into the Periodic Table of Awesomements, like, yesterday.

But seriously, I almost shed a tear today when our final typography class came to a close. I’ve learned so much in that class, from history to composition to gestalt to kerning to grids to the innumerable parallels between graphic and interaction design, that it’s hard to believe it’s only been four months since we started. Sheesh, I got to work with printing presses, real mechanical printing presses with heavy gears that will pinch your fingers, and rollers that will tear the hair right off your head. Risking life and limb? that’s what we call design, baby.

Type Cliché Letterpress Project

Type Cliché Letterpress Project

Type Cliché Letterpress Project

Type Cliché Letterpress Project

The day wrapped up with an evening meeting with my experience design team. We’re in the process of prototyping a museum installation where people learn about light by playing with mirrors and prisms.





There are some particularly subtle experiences we’re trying to recreate, not the least of which involve producing an immersive environment that suspends time and encourages focused, exploratory behavior. Our installation is designed to be fun, but we’ve described ours as a kind of “PBS fun” rather than “Nickelodeon fun.” Further, we’re introducing a social aspect that allows others to indirectly engage with (or contribute to) the experience, which will involve a separate prototype that we hope to build this weekend.

With flashlights. And Saran Wrap. And Sharpies, toilet paper tubes, duct tape, an iPod on repeat, and a dark, dark room. As our professor so lovingly told us the other day, “You guys are poor graduate students. You’ll build prototypes out of whatever garbage you can get your hands on.”

And so we did. And so we will.