MD

BFA Thesis Exploration


MAINE COLLEGE OF ART & DESIGN


2021


WELCOME. You are entering my thesis journey as a candidate for a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from the Maine College of Art & Design.  Within these walls you will see my development as a designer, along with my development as human being. Here you will find thoughts, findings, failures, victories, and final products. I hope you enjoy the process and learn something along the way as you watch me do the same.


Enjoy being a fly on the wall in my brain for probably one of the most important (and time consuming) projects I have ever worked on… This page will continually grow, adapt, and change.  Please, be patient and remain curious.


Thesis/Capstone


BFA ; Graphic Design

ideation process to begin – 100 words to prioritize and incorporate

It’s actually 96. shhhhh. (we ran out of cards)



Design Thinking What is it?

" Design Thinking is not an exclusive property of designers—all great innovators in literature, art, music, science, engineering, and business have practiced it. So, why call it Design Thinking? What’s special about Design Thinking is that designers’ work processes can help us systematically extract, teach, learn and apply these human-centered techniques to solve problems in a creative and innovative way – in our designs, in our businesses, in our countries, in our lives.


Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. At the same time, Design Thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods. Design Thinking revolves around a deep interest in developing an understanding of the people for whom we’re designing the products or services. It helps us observe and develop with the target user; Design Thinking helps us in the process of questioning: questioning the problem, questioning the empathy, assumptions, and questioning the implications. "


Source

Visual Introduction | Teaser Posters

TEASER POSTER


FINAL VERSION : V.5

a visual introduction; a starting point





BACKGROUND To be a Designer, conceptually, is to wear a certain pair of goggles, or rather, to switch your brain to a specific setting. Often one that does not judge, but seeks to grow and calculate carefully while remaining grounded in ethics and principles, and staying focused on the common good. A pair of goggles that shift your perspective, heightens awareness, and causes you to playfully question..everything (within reason). The usages for these "goggles" can take many forms in many disciplines whether you are a content creator, an engineer, a teacher, or a nurse. Design Thinking is about how you tackle the problem in front of you no matter what it is. 


When we apply Design Thinking to matters of daily life we create fresh and creative solutions that last, stronger interpersonal relationships, senses of self, and new opportunities for growth.

the RESEARCH


some of the books I have been consuming and incorporating in my thesis research development.

One of my favorite parts of being a designer is the excuse to read/consume anything and everything. Research is the root of everything we do (if it's done well). Over my four years at MECA I have been exposed to a variety of incredible resources. Early on I saw the value of readings/resources, so I began to save them as they were given to me from teachers. If it was printed and handed to me, it was saved. Thus, the big book of research came to be. 


As you see below, A culmination of readings from four years at Maine College of Art. Divided into four sections: Mind, Theory, Environment, & Design.


An Exploration of Design Thinking in Immersive 

Spaces as a form of Behavioral Therapy

— THESIS BRIEF:


— PROJECT TIMELINE

JAN – MAY 2021


— DATE OF CREATION

JAN 20 2021

While it is easy to get wrapped up in individuality, it is important to remember the multitude of ways in which we are all similar. Feelings, thoughts and emotions. In times of chaos or change it can be a struggle to process what goes on in the mind in the most effective way. This skill, the art of processing, is instilled at different intensities depending on where your life leads you. Principles of Design, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Spirituality, Philosophy and more help us to understand ourselves and those around us in a more compassionate way. Ultimately, they help us process life. They also dare us to question: How can we be better, in every sense?  Many of these practices, such as Behavioral Therapy, enable people to develop themselves and their place in the world. This is often done using tools of verbal communication. 


The power of Design (and Design Thinking) has taught me the impact and influence of process, visual communication, strategic systems, physical interaction and iterative making. When we instill design systems into self development work, we create a memorable and effective experience that encourages a solution based approach. My thesis will explore how we can apply Design Thinking into immersive spaces to work in tandem with Behavioral Therapy helping people process their current state of existence.

When you focus on the good, the good gets better  


- Esther Hicks

DESIGNING 

the BRAND


Developing the brand identity, 

values, and systems

A portion of my thesis exploration will take form in an interactive museum/maze involving physical immersion, sensory stimulation, and tangible prompts. This space will act as a catalyst for visitors to authentically play and find joy within oneself all while participating in therapeutic making and community reflection that reinforces lessons of emotional intelligence. Users will walk away being able to better comprehend how we as individuals and members of a collective society process, influence, and impact ourselves and others.


Over the course of this semester I will develop this concept to the best of my ability with transdisciplinary explorations. This space will be a wellness exploration for mental reflection and emotional processing for all.

My thesis exploration is multifaceted and thus requires a brand that can envelop all components. I established the brand: The Mind Maze. This identity will provide a structure and system for the work created during this semester.


process options


Organizing, establishing, and prioritizing the values, services, roles, and presence of the brand through Brad Frost's atomic branding methodology.

"My search for a methodology to craft interaction design systems led me to look for inspiration in other fields and industries. Given this amazingly complex world we’ve created, it seemed only natural that other fields would have tackled similar problems we could learn from and appropriate. As it turns out, loads of other fields such as industrial design and architecture have developed smart modular systems for manufacturing immensely complex objects like airplanes, ships, and skyscrapers. But my original explorations kept creeping back to the natural world, which triggered memories of sitting at a rickety desk in my high school’s chemistry lab…"


To read more about the creation of the Atomic Design Methodology by Brad Frost, explore the source linked below.


Source

CREATING 

the MAZE


through systems of Psychology, 

Art Therapy, and Immersion

The structure of the maze will always follow the same system. Walking you through the five senses followed by various reflection, processing and analysis techniques finished with physical iterative making engaging the mind, body, and soul. Once you exit the building you will be ushered through an outdoor garden helping you to process and reflect on your experiences inside the space.


Exhibitions that showcase within this museum will be required to follow the pacing and order. You can see the columns below of the three influential processes that are implemented into the space: The process of therapy, the process of enlightenment through awareness, and the process of design thinking. When layered together you get the mind maze.


MAZE WALK THROUGH 

GUIDE


In order to help users progress through the structure and system of the maze (and make the most of the experience) I created a walkthrough guide with prompts to help process, make connections and dig deeper. 


This walkthrough guide was first created as a book but after user testing and ruminating on it, I realized it yearned for a digital presence. I then created a scrolling app that moves the user through the museum following the same progression as the book would do.

Senior Spotlight


My thesis, in the simplest sense, is an exploration of human capacity. Investigating our limits, boundaries, and the triumphs that can be found in between. My thesis is exploring how we can help others to tap into their inner strength and create a life they want to live. Through tools of design, I will create systems and structures that make this transition happen with ease."

ENGINEERING 

the SPACE


Space exploration through 

models, mockups, and miniatures

Evolution from 2D Drafting to 3D Model Development

CAD Rendering exploration of space blueprint

BUILDING 

the MODEL


Through the woodworking department (and CNC technology) I was able to bring this space to a tangible reality


boards after CNC production. 

Crafting models help creators to make design issues and broad concepts visible in the most concrete manner to all involved. People from all walks of life can immerse themselves as an outsider and comprehend wild concepts with ease. 


Naturally, humans are visual learners so by creating a tangible reality you provide interaction, accessibility, and engaged curiosity. 


The process of creating models is equally as beneficial as interacting with the final product. In the process of scaling and crafting models, the systems involved are better developed and fine tuned. Not only does it result in a more refined product, but a better overall production process that understands the systems you have developed on a deeper level.

For my thesis installation I am creating two models through the woodworking department and my models class. One of the models I am creating will be a 3-Dimensional 1:50 scale representation of some of the elements of this museum/maze space. 


The other model will be a 2-Dimensional wall mounted multi layered system maze explaining the process of walking through the space. This piece was briefly pictured above. Below you can see some of the process of creating the frame for this 2-Dimensional model. To see the final piece you will have to wait until the exhibition section.

PROCESS I used a 1:50 ratio for my scale model calculations. This size ratio is typically utilized in model airplanes, buses, and large trucks. Typically architectural models will utilize a 1:200 scaling ratio. Due to the details needed for the hallway typographic interactions and the lack of multiple floors I chose to use this larger scale.


Below you can see the difference in scale. To the left is 1:200. To the right is 1:50.

Developing the Color | Engaging the Senses through Color Theory

(insider) PROCESS As the Maine snow began to melt and sunshine finally returned I was able to take my spray work outside. Times like these I am especially grateful for my Subaru that does it all; my camping van, my traveling studio, and whatever else I need her to be.

FAIL FEATURE I wasted quite a few hours, days, weeks, what felt like an eternity, trying to figure out windows for this model between all the other projects and developments. It kept me awake some nights. I tried every clear sheeted material I could find. I tried every adhesive I could get my hands on. I explored, I questioned, I learned, I failed, I cried a little, but also laughed because this is part of the process. The one I love so dearly.


The process I will die on a hill for: questioning while exploring, exploring while learning, learning through making, making through failure, and failing through exploration. 


thanks to some awesome friends we transported the pieces to prepare for exhibition.

CREATING the TOOLS


Developing engaging prompts and activities for at home and in space application

Product Evolution: Prototype to Beta Testing

In my practice, and especially in times of Covid, I attempt to keep accessibility at the forefront of everything I create. When thinking about the physical and mental prompts I would implement in the immersive maze experience, I had to also wonder how I could distill this down into an accessible experience that didn't require a physical space.


This package serves as a method of bringing art, design, education, as well as both creative and critical thinking into the home. In just a mere 6x4 inch box there are 7 activity prompts and all the supplies needed for an afternoon of reflective crafting. The prompts help the user to immerse themselves in an open minded free play experience. 


Ultimately, once completed the user will feel more in tune with themselves, their abilities, and their headspace. Ideally, users will better understand the importance of creative making and continue to implement it into their daily lives.


Above is the high fidelity prototype created after development, testing, research, and peer/faculty review. This prototype was tested by a non artist in order to get a clearer perspective on accessibility and revisions for the next version.


Below is the updated version derived from the prototype data. 

This second version will be used for public beta testing.

Version TWO


Participants of this beta testing consist of friends, family, classmates, colleagues, teachers, strangers; artists and non. I have asked that each participant complete this kit, fill out a survey, and send the kit back with their finished results. I will then synthesize this data and continue product development from there.

survey research


This is the QR code that takes the beta tester to the survey that helps conduct data research.

PROCESS Below you can see a few process shots from assembling some of the kits for external beta testing. Overall this process of printing, trimming, organizing, building, assembling, and more took about 8 hours. what a way to spend a Wednesday! (& yes I am watching Mulan while assembling.)


Kits were hand delivered and shipped within a week of packaging. Results are set to return in 2-3 weeks. The kits consist of 1 pencil, 1 zine booklet, 1 set of tabs, 2 crayons, 2 postcards, 2 sets of string, 3 affirmation cards, 6 prompts and an instruction manual.


You do not rise to the level of your goals,  you fall to the level of your systems  


- James Clear

ANALYZING the DATA


As beta testers began receiving their kits and completing them, data soon rolled in to ignite the next iteration of product development.

Below you can see some of the results from prompt/phase 5.


As you can see a yellow dot is used to protect the identities of the beta testing participants. I am so thankful to all of the people who took time out of their days to test this product. To be able to listen to their experiences and reflections about this process has been fascinating and all the more encouragement to continue development.

PLANNING the INSTALLATION


with the 2021 MECA Thesis Exhibition show officially happening, planning for an in person show began! 


Towards the end of March the seniors received their exhibition spots; I was overjoyed to see mine! with only a few more weeks to go, it’s feeling very real.

the Friedman Gallery

The last few weeks, the wrap up weeks, of this semester were a bit of a blur. Lots of printing, binding, tweaking, fixing, painting, finishing, hammering, touching up, and tying the loose ends of many strings. I was able to stay incredibly organized and get everything on my various checklists done, but alas did so without a lot of photographic evidence. Times like these an assistant would come in handy. 


It wasn’t very fun to see anyway, so don’t worry. A bit of panic, a couple paper cuts, and lots of sweat. If you want to see something fun during the final countdown: check out the vinyl cutter video below. In preparation of show installation I printed 10 feet of vinyl graphics/lettering. The process is super fun, so easy, and mesmerizing to watch.


Soon enough, seniors presented their culmination work before installing their portion of the exhibition.

THE INSTALLATION


Featured in the Friedman Gallery

the 

TOOL zone

the 

SYSTEMS zone

the 

PROCESS zone


Thesis.

THANK YOU FOR VIEWING

there is more to come..



To inquire more about this body of work, 

it's process, end results, and future applications 

please reach out to delbene.design@gmail.com


MIND MAZE kits are in the process of being developed for production. stay tuned.