4: Cafe Reflections

On a level of difficulty scale, this project ranked pretty high. Not because creating the objects and implementations was hard, but because the thinking that went behind the project and designs was hard. How do I make a clear visual system while creating an experience for the user and without placing the logo and making the designs redundant:

What I struggled with was the initial concept. It took me a while to come to the conclusion that I wanted to create an experience that wasn’t angering, frustrating, or impractical. But I wanted to create just enough of an imbalance for the customers that it made them uncomfortable.

I went from crazy ideas of ridged tables and see-saw chairs to more subtle ways of creating discomfort by changing small things on regular objects; tilted pockets, words that are cut off, boxes that look that they’ll tip over. Again, I considered tilted glasses and mugs, but those already exist, so instead of creating them I used them as inspiration. It was finding the balance between too complex and impractical, and not uncomfortable enough that was the challenge. Technical challenges were showing the implementations in a presentable way; image quality and improvement on photoshop was needed.

What I feel I really succeeded with were my menu and box. Visually, the apron and napkin may be slightly bothersome, but in terms of really creating the experience, those two were the most successful. No matter who I asked was bothered by the box. They saw it, were confused, and then acknowledged that it annoyed them. I didn’t test the menu in a similar way, but they layout looks professional and the fact that reading it requires extra steps of tilting the menu (or your head) seems like a not too annoying way of annoying someone.


3 Cafe: Identity Systems and Logo lecture

Visual System: logo is a small part of the identity system (these days it isn’t that important compared to the system).

Logo: applied to a lot of different materials/spaces/sizes, different colours?

Logo =


adaptable – scale

visually striking,

memorable – unexpected configurations/substitutions/illusions (ambiguity, negative space).

Can’t predict how it’ll be used, should have ability to be scaled and still be recognizable…curves and line quality. Printed in only 1 solid colour and still work.

^ dual colours….

^gradient??? < limited 

logos need to be simple, so limited visually, so can’t communicate complex ideas.

Power in simplicity

sensitive to audience = don’t assume people will understand

Visual system =

visual elements, relationships, rules, variety of material

the semantics should:

communicate a rich,  holistic view

identify constants and variables

Brand = 

is the set of ideas, values and attributes to the entity. Attaching meaning to an identity through various activities (advertise/writing/behaviour).

2 Cafe: Lecture on identity systems

How are you going to document and present??

Logo/brand/brand colours

Just a logo, is an old way of identity system.

Recognising a brand can have more than just a logo: a system of visuals created specifically for a brand. Series of rules dictating visuals.

Visual System:
colours/colour schemes
logotype – purely graphic or word mark.
image – everything is shot a certain way
graphic elements (unique)
materials and textures<<<<<<
All feels unified
General layout – the rules that dictate how the graphic elements are used.

Documentation and presentation?

logo – is just a graphic

Design choices should come from the concept of the cafe. Identity system needs to be recognisable, unique, well designed typically, but can also communicate > emotion, time, concept (vintage). Communication through association. give a hint of concept.

identify theme and concept > can translate into design approach
identify values of cafe > keywords that define brand
tone or feel of system.
picking colours and experimenting > limited scheme 3 ?
layout >> connected to function.

play with concept. branded events

create a system that gives you freedom. that doesn’t restrict you.

1 Cafe: Introduction and initial ideas

[click for details]

4 Football: Final working, critique and Reflection

Instead of combining my gestural drawings with a ball made of string, I decided to make the entire composition out of string.

footballstring004 2

It was while working that I noticed that instead of having a flat composition, I could use the density of string to add to the concept of energy. Areas with more string were areas with more energy = the ball and whichever area the player is going to hit the ball with.

Working with it on photoshop was a bit tricky. I had to figure out a way to have the string on one layer, separate from the background. I wanted to give the client flexibility to change the colours as they needed. Especially they kept saying that they wanted to be able to use the images in their own designs. I tried gradients and the gradient map tool, but neither looked as good as simple, solid colours.

The trick of not being able to mask out the string was solved by using a darker string. I used light blue first:

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 6.32.25 PM 2

^ troubles. Another thing that helped was playing with the levels to select the string.

Even after I selected the string separately, I did things like reducing the shadows since the string looked a bit ‘fake’. The texture was different from what I was looking for:

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 8.00.02 PM copy

This worked, and gave a brighter colour
Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 8.02.10 PM copy

Even though selecting the string was made easier with adjusting the levels and using the magic wand (contiguos was unclicked), there were still areas that needed cleaning up:

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 8.27.42 PM copy Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 8.27.56 PM copy
These were the shadows of the string. I masked out areas that were annoying to look at, like textured shadows, or bits that stuck apart from the string and didn’t look a part of it:
Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 8.28.43 PM copy Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 8.29.13 PM copy
Other than that, I mostly left the areas of shadows.

Something I had to work with was the tintedness of the work when printing for the critique (as can be seen in the blue version). Printing the work as it was made it print too dark. I made them lighter for the sake of prints. I also made sure to print a version that didn’t follow the brand colours (purple and yellow) as an example of how moving away from the brand colours could look better and more energetic:

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 8.44.47 PM copy


Something I struggled with throughout was finding the direction and making it work. I learned that sometimes, the idea that I think is better, isn’t necessarily better for the client. The whole concept of working with a client was difficult itself. When it’s a usual project, I need to create something that I’m convinced with and proud of and that fulfils the requirements set by the professors. When it’s like that, I know when I’ve found the direction and when I’m done (or as close to being done in the time given).

With the client…I can’t. I wish I could know what they have in mind, but even what they have in mind (players composited in bright energetic lighting) might not be the solution they need (something different). Using the feedback to decide my plan of action took some time. I discussed the feedback with friends and professors and had to decide for myself at the end. *sigh* adult life, deciding for yourself. Anyway…

Immediately after the critique I saw the ‘unripeness'[?] of my work. Mostly it was the comment of how the concept of the ‘focused’ energy could be made clearer if there was more contrast. I wish I had a critique earlier, before the final, so that I could have used that feedback. It would have made a huge difference to the way the images look right now. Seeing as the most successful one is the ‘blue’ one, where there is the most contrast.

If given the time, I would have added less details in other areas and more string in the ‘energetic’ areas to emphasise the concept of ‘this-is-where-the impact-is’. The client also found the shadows distracting. I didn’t see this when working, but I would adjust the work accordingly. I made my PSD files as such, that it would be simple to make the adjustment either way–there are occasions where the shadows would be more appropriate (maybe on a more complex background) and places where they didn’t work (this is a place where it didn’t work). I would have also payed more attention to my choice of colours. Having a series of colours that I’d picked, and a series of colours going with the brand’s colours.

3 Football: Experiments second round and client feedback

Something that I wanted to experiment with, which I hadn’t done earlier, was using paper and lighting to create shadows:

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 6.22.19 PM copy
After spending a while experimenting with this direction I decided to work on the other direction. It looked different, but it didn’t spark anything new. There was also no concept for this direction. where I experiment with the scanning technique, mixed with a crowd.

I moved on to where I experimented with the scanning technique, mixed with a crowd. I also took my idea of strings further, where before I was simply combining the strings with gestural drawings to focusing on the strings. I composited a clump of strings with a football, to focus less on a player and more on the energy and movement of the football itself.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 8.14.33 PM copy


The feedback that I got from Nada at first was that the concept of the bright scans looked too much like a party. Focusing on the audience was a different perspective, but a footballer in place of the crowd would tie the direction back to football. The direction of the string looked very interesting, but again, it needed to be pushed further.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 8.14.58 PM copy

The feedback that I got from Theodora was on a similar vein.

The difference was that Nada’s feedback made the audience direction sound like it could be worked with. But from the way Theodora had critiqued everyone’s work, it seemed like she wanted us to focus on the players. Again it’s difficult to say from a typed sentence, but throughout the feedback document she mentioned showing the dynamism of players.

This was when I made the decision to stop the direction of the scanned sheets. I knew I didn’t want to add a football player into that style, because it would resemble a lot of the typical posters that already exist.


I decided to focus on the strings idea, and push it further.

2 Football: Experiments first round and feedback

I began by experimenting with a variety of things ranging from markers, paints, strings to working on paper and plastic/transperent sheets. I tried techniques like smearing, drawing neatly, gestural drawings. Most of my experiments were 2D, even relatively 3D ones (work with string), was flat enough to be scanned.


Once I’d created the scans I was stuck about what I planned to do with them. All I could think of was to go back into photoshop and start layering the different scans over each other using blending modes.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.30.02 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.30.13 AM

Despite some of my experiments looking good on their own as scans, when I manipulated them further, it didn’t look as good, for example the streaks of black paint.

When I talked to the professor and Barbara about, they seemed to see the ‘bright’ effects as the most promising. These were the ones I made by scanning clear sheets from a distance, so that the light reflecting off it got scanned. Moving the sheet in different ways also created bright ‘streaks’ or waves. Compositing these (basically using the blending modes) created more ‘dynamic’ looks:

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.30.26 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.30.39 AM

An idea that I was given was that instead of simply placing a player on the bright streaks (which has probably been done before) I could consider different aspects of football. I thought about the energy of the crowd. It would be a different perspective: illustrating the energy and excitement and dynamism of the audiences cheering for their team.