Usual Things / Unusual Eyes


Look at usual things with unusual eyes. —Vico Magistretti, 18x24" poster, students: Burgin, Daniels, Moore, Addison.

Duration: 1 day
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Bookmark Project

Project Brief

This workshop requires makers to work together to build the foundation for a design, then to break out in groups to finalize their own creations. It can be given to remind makers that design does not happen in a vacuum and that collaboration is a key component to move forward in a design career. The time limit is imperative. This workshop was given an hour, but it could easily have gone 1.5hrs. Time limit areas are cleared and indicated in the brief below.

  • Each person gets a letter or letters from the 26-letter alphabet—you can include numbers here, too!
  • In (time limit), create these letters out of anything you can find. Photograph them.
  • For (time limit), bring the images into photoshop and clean them up or adjust them. Make sure they’re high resolution (300ppi is good). Plain backgrounds are suggested but not required. 
  • Save your PSD files. 


  • Upload your PSD files to our shared file database. They will be used as-is.


  • Gather into four groups of 2 or 3
  • In (time limit), design a poster TOGETHER. Scale 18x24”, portrait. Use InDesign, and the entire class’s letters — pick and choose the ones you’ll use as there may be duplicates.
  • Pick one of these quotes (no repeating among the class):
  1. Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it. –Salvador Dali
  2. The alternative to good design is always bad design. There is no such thing as no design. –Adam Judge
  3.  It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good. –Paula Scher
  4. Look at usual things with unusual eyes. –Vico Magistretti
  5. Where do new ideas come from? The answer is simple: differences. Creativity comes from unlikely juxtapositions. –Nicholas Negroponte
  6. Styles come and go. Good design is a language, not a style.  –Massimo Vignelli

Include somewhere on the poster: 

  • semester and year
  • course name

*Note* YOU MUST ALL FINISH BY THE TIME LIMIT. No one should be sitting and doing nothing. If one team needs help, and your team is done, you are obligated to help. We sink or swim together.

  • Upload your 18x24” portrait high-resolution PDF files for printing to our shared database. 
  • They will be sent to print as-is, so make sure: 
  1. there’s bleed, if needed
  2. all images are linked
  3. all text is outlined in your PDF

Learning Objectives

  • Collaboration
  • Team work
  • InDesign software skills
  • Conceptualizing letterforms by making them out of unconventional materials
  • Saving and uploading for print-readiness


  • 18x24" portrait poster: 1) printed and 2) PDF upload.
  • Written blog post reflection.


This is a lively, energetic workshop to engage makers in collaboration and team building. It will challenge any rut. The time limit is key. Some logistical and accessibility concerns include: makers must have access to InDesign; makers must have access to a way to photograph and upload their letterforms quickly; makers must have an understanding of their roles in teams (are they the person designing in indesign, sketching out ideas, picking the quote, or downloading all the images from the database).

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