The ask: Journalist and photographer Walter Thompson-Hernandez approached me to make a zine for a story he’d had for a while, a World War II interracial romance told through the eyes of the couple’s biracial daughter. The only way to do the story justice was to write it as it was: long, complex, and layered with history - but media outlets weren’t interested in old, complicated stories.
My method: To make the story more digestible, I printed out and annotated the writer's text and photographs, categorizing sections as either narrative building or providing historical context. My goal was to bring out the significance, intimacy, and authenticity of each part of the text.
Our solution: I used layout and visual cues to break up the text into sections without changing the written words, and displayed the photographs in large format on each page, which was printed on heavier, toned paper as a way to materialize the rich, intimate tone of the story. Each zine was individually printed, folded, and bound.
Five copies were gifted to Jackie Rice, who shared this story about her parents with the writer. The story can be read here.
The ask: Clean Agency, a fifteen-year-old sustainability consulting firm, felt its branding and in particular its website were dated and didn’t represent their innovative work.
My method: A combination of fun exercises and open-ended questions were used to draw stories out of the CEO and staff that helped us identify their founding values, a cohesive narrative and their vision for the future.
Our solution: Drawing from these stories, we crafted a mission statement, logo and visual identity that reflected their values, which in turn informed collateral media.
company identity & mission statement
Branding exercise, previous logo at top
Company story, written collaboratively with CEO Seri McClendon
logo & visual identity
Moodboard exercise that allowed us to more concretely grasp a visual aesthetic
I created these mockups, which were given to a developer to implement, although I continued to provide feedback and additional assets.
A social media campaign by Bitmark, a digital copyrighting startup, aimed to demonstrate the distinction between digital and physical property. Aesthetic, on-brand graphics compared the same media object in its digital and physical forms.
The ask: The Los Angeles office of Imprint Projects, a "post-advertising" creative agency, needed to make instructional signage for the office waste bins as part of a new zero waste goal.
I saw the initial ask as an opportunity to improve office waste diversion. Drawing on my background in environmental studies, I assessed, researched, and re-designed the office waste flow before creating new signage.The interest this generated in the topic of zero waste led to a continuing series of lunch talks and activities geared towards improving waste diversion, growing into a zero waste initiative that continued after I left the agency.
Our solution: Creating visual, comprehensive signage for an efficiently designed waste flow system was the first step towards a zero waste goal. In the continuing intiative, multi-modal, generative engagement strategies were used to establish awareness and interest, generate action items, and build capacity and commitment to make change.
To clarify what can and can’t be recycled, composted, and thrown away, each bin had clear callouts and lists of what can and can’t be put into them. Each had an accompanying label with information on where the waste is taken after it is thrown away. A key point that needed to be made was the separation of recyclables that could be exchanged for money at recycling centers (those with California Refund Value) and other waste that could be recycled, but had no refund value.
Drawing from the new system we had researched, a comprehensive system, with instructional, educational, and visual components were installed in the corner of the office kitchen.
follow up: recording compost diversion
In a small effort to show the impact of waste diversion over time, a simple hanging scale was used to measure and record the amount of organic waste diverted.
discussion & activity
Prompted by an interest in the topic, I planned a short presentation and activity. A positioning matrix activity mapped office habits and consumption patterns by self-assessed measures of sustainability, and the effort required to change that habit. This activity was used to self-assess as well as generate ideas for next steps.
Action items generated from this activity included creating a used battery box, bulk-buying coffee beans, and requesting no disposable utensils, plates and napkins when ordering office lunch or catering.
lunch guest: recycling specialist
A recycling specialist with a background in advertising shared her expertise in recycling in Los Angeles, how to reduce waste, and, with particular relevance to the agency's work, zero-waste productions in marketing and advertising.
field trip: Burbank Recycle Center
A recycling center tour in the following months provided deeper insight into waste as an issue, as well as motivation to change the way marketing projects were done.
USC Design For America
The ask: My university’s branch of Design For America, a national network of students who use human-centered design for social impact, needed material to advertise for new member recruitment.
My method: My work was informed by my personal familiarity with DFA and my knowledge of studio goals to recruit more engineers, demystify design thinking, and work with more community partners.
Our solution: Social media graphics with a more professional, technical aesthetic than previous years, that still retained a fun and creative vibe, including individual posts featuring steps of the design cycle.
fall 2016 recruitment
Promotional material for the recruitment of new members for the fall 2016 semester design cycle.
Posts illustrating steps of the human-centered design process also count down the days until application is due.
spring 2017 apparel
Promotional material for the recruitment of new members for the fall 2016 semester design cycle.
The ask: The medical clinic at MEND, a non-profit in the city of Pacoima, struggles with getting its diabetes patients to comply with treatment.
My method: Our team of 3 conducted explorative research, interviewing over 60 diabetes patients and residents of Pacoima over a 4 week period. After identifying root causes of the problem and community resources, we brainstormed, prototyped and tested some initial ideas with community members and problem area experts. Drawing from their feedback, we narrowed our focus to one problem area and continued cycles of research and development to reach our final product.
Our solution: Saludilla, a healthy tortilla made with alternative ingredients that substitutes for high glycemic index and high carbohydrate staple foods. Saludilla allows families in Pacoima to adjust to more diabetic-friendly diets while being able to enjoy the food they love.
This project began in partnership with the diabetes clinic at MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity), which provides free and affordable healthcare to local residents living under the poverty line. Doctors and staff reported difficulty in making sure that their patients followed advice on how to manage and treat diabetes.
identifying problems and opportunities
Over our initial research period of 4 weeks, I and two other team members interviewed over 60 patients and local residents, trying to learn about the community and demystify the reasons doctor's advice was not being followed. Our goals were to identify problem spaces and community resources, which we paired to ask 'how might we' questions that might guide us to a solution:
initial ideas and prototypes
Drawing from our research, we came up with ideas in three problem areas we chose to focus on. In each of these areas, we narrowed our ideas down to one that we prototyped and presented to MEND staff and problem area experts.
focusing in on a problem area
After recieving feedback, we chose to focus on the problem area and prototype that we found the most promising. We continued to refine our problem statement:
At the same time, we developed and iterated our prototype, a recipe for a low-glycemic index tortilla that would allow families to adjust to diabetic-friendly diets without sacrificing home recipes and familiar food.
We also began to explore options for implementation and distribution, and focused our research on consumer behavior, identifying local tortillerias as potential partners and distribution points to introduce our product into the community.
Our final product earned praise and interest in implementation from our partner non-profit’s food justice director, sustainable food entrepreneurs, and a health food industry multimillionaire.
The ask: Through the COSIA program, the Aquarium of the Pacific asked students in ocean sciences to design activities teaching aquarium guests about science.
Our method: To learn about the aquarium guests, I visited the aquarium to observe learning, spoke with the education staff about visitor statistics and personal anecdotes, and shadowed and later volunteered with the education staff.
In addition to this, I learned best practices in breaking down and communicating scientific concepts from the aquarium staff, educators from the California Science Center, and experts in communication, storytelling, neuroscience and more at my own university.
On the content development side, I chose to make my activity on a research area I worked on in school: the impact of the invasive species, Sargassum horneri, a type of brown seaweed that competes with the native giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, in the local Southern California marine ecosystem. To support and validate my own knowledge, I sought the expertise of my research mentor, graduate students and faculty in the Marine and Environmental Biology department, and staff at USC Sea Grant.
Our solution: A board game that simulates the battle for space between the kelp and invasive Sargassum, inviting guests to draw action cards which enact ocean processes that affect the distribution of each species.
full case study coming soon!
Initial prototypes were presented and tested at the Aquarium of the Pacific and the California Science Center.
The Sonos Loft
An off-site space at a smart home technology expo, the Sonos Loft was a sound and lifestyle experience curated by Imprint Projects. As part of the design team, I created banners at the main convention center that directed to the off-site space, as well as signage and print collateral at the venue itself.