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5 Unit 07: Dinah Fried

í Unit 7: Overview & Assignment


How can designers distill a narrative to its essence?

Unit Summary

Designers are editors, interpreters, organizers, and remixers of meaning. In this content-rich world, we have the opportunity and obligation to communicate complex narratives using curated elements and visual shorthand; to infuse new meaning and point-of-view into the old; to capture something long and layered in an instant. In this unit, you will explore methods of making —including compression, deconstruction, abstraction, and translation—with the goal of telling a familiar story in a new way.


By the end of today’s class, pick a narrative (book, film, tv show, play, etc) that you know very well. Reduce it to three collections of core elements—including (but not limited to) characters, places, events, themes, symbols, language, tropes, narrative arcs. Using the collections as content, visually represent the chosen narrative three times.

The final format of each collection is up to you, but should respond to the content (eg a set of characters might be presented in a family tree) and should not be the same form as the original narrative (ie don’t make a book about The Catcher in the Rye).


—How much can you reduce the narrative and still capture the spirit of the original text?
—How can your point-of-view about the original be conveyed through your editing/design decisions?
—How could your narrative become information/data?
—How can your final output speak to audiences familiar and unfamiliar with the original?

Learning Objectives

—Edit content down to the most important components
—Embed a point-of-view into an existing piece of content
—Communicate complexity by applying economy
—Translate something old/familiar into something new/fresh

Extended Portion

Part 1: Extend, Develop, Refine
Option A (One): Develop your favorite approach from the first week into an extended narrative.
Option B (Many): Apply your favorite approach from the first week to a series (at least three) of additional narratives.

Part 2: Present, Document, Share
Title and document, and share your project with an audience (physically and online).

Timing /Deliverables:
Week 1
Option A:
—develop your approach into 3 distinct directions
—thoughts on final format

Option B:
—full list of new narratives
—design sketches for at least 3 (include at least 3 distinct design routes)
—thoughts on final format

Week 2
—project refinements
—format prototypes
—plan for part 2

Week 3

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