* Images directly below the “what i’ve been up to” line are my own. All other images on this page are taken from other sources and used only to display my inspiration.
The root idea for my Senior Capstone project for my BFA in Design degree originally began with my enchantment with a city I studied in this summer—Copenhagen, Denmark.
I was enthralled by the atmosphere of Copenhagen—known as a biking city, the environment is friendly, communal, and intentional—with a slower pace of life.
I wanted to investigate the idea of creating a system that would allow this slowness and communal feeling to be applied to different cities across the globe, as I believe that connections to people and to place are powerful in promoting a more compassionate and considerate society.
Urban Stories ATX is the inaugural prototype of this system, focusing on a specific half-mile stretch of Town Lake. The goal of this project is to share stories—all that is consuming people’s thoughts and lives, and to highlight invisible interactions that are created in this place, whether that be a conversation, an observation, a monumental personal or public event, etcetera.
This will be achieved through desk and field research, an installation in the space, and through social media engagement.
Research regarding storytelling, mapping, Town Lake, cities, and installations.
*All images and quotes on this page are taken from outside sources and featured solely as my inspiration.
1. Map of the half-mile stretch of the lake I chose to focus on.
2-4. Quotes which I was highly inspired by.
5-6. Candy Chang installation inspiration.
7. Interactive art installation inspiration.
8. Storytelling and peacemaking inspiration.
9-16. Installation inspiration & ideas.
Field research consisted of me camping out at Town Lake observing and interviewing people by handing out my series of 6 designed cards, asking people if they would answer a question / fill one out a card for my senior design project.
I learned several things through this process—I was surprised at people’s willingness to take time to answer the question, I was surprised at their thoughtfulness and contemplation, at the fact that the card acted as a device for their verbal storytelling. The card broke down boundaries and created a space for people to share what was on their mind or in their heart at the moment.
While some people shared trivial things or did not think very abstractly (as I had assumed might be the case), some people were very vulnerable, even to the point of tears.
I was surprised at the diversity of thought.
While one person was thinking about what the next component of their art project would be, another was thinking, “how much do those apartments across the river cost?”
While one person was thinking about tacos, another was thinking about how political reform affects climate change.
While one person was dreaming of headlining ACL, another was dreaming of “walking in the park with a new boyfriend,” and another was dreaming of “not a white Christmas.”
While one person saw “the trail,” another saw “inexorable perfection effortlessly expressed.”
I learned that Austin is a world-renowned city, with many visitors attracted by the legacy of Stevie Ray Vaughn. His statue on the lake drew people from all over constantly—taking snapshots, bringing flowers, standing in awe, and admiring from bike tours.
* All images on this page are my own.
These cards were designed as a prototype that would later be refined. However, the unexpected success of the method of distributing of these cards informed my decision to continue using these same designs.
Regarding the design, I learned that these cards did not necessarily indicate that they should be written on and that the “lingo” on some of the cards (geared toward younger audiences) was not understood by the majority of the people—there was not a majority of this younger age group represented on the trail.
I did include the question in small type on the back to remind the participant of what they were answering and for photo documentation of their writing.
I was conscious of the fact that the choice of pen—sharpie vs. ball point could influence the amount people wrote.
The design choices of bold, flat, sans serif type and a variety of bright and rich colors was to appeal to all audiences, to be eye-catching, legible, simple, and fun.
People and their stories.
People of all ages & stages & ethnicities. Austinites + visitors. Family, friends, and individuals.
* All images on this page are my own.
A key part of visiting Town Lake & a part of many people’s stories!
SKETCHES & COLORS
One of my favorite parts of studying abroad in Copenhagen was my visual journal course. I enjoyed being in the habit of sketching my observations.
I applied this concept to Urban Stories, as promoting observation and looking through different perspectives were essential to the mission of the brand.
Documentation of Town Lake over 6 weeks at different times of day.
It was interesting to see how the weather and season affected the trail and people and mood, though overall, the weather had less effect than I expected. People seem to love Town Lake and the hike and bike trail—and even when locals weren’t out, visitors were.
I wanted the installation to fit in well with the natural environment of Town Lake—this would be the idea for the installation in any city.
The wooden poles were similar to trees and the gravel held the feeling of the trail.
The allusion to a clothesline represents hanging up “the laundry of life”—all the daily moments of lives existing in a city. By putting these daily interactions on display, others are encouraged to add to the line and share their own stories. The laundry can be colorful, it can be stained, it can be full of expression or very basic. The idea of a mundane thing like a clothesline being referenced used to share beautiful things should inspire people to look at everyday moments with a new perspective—being aware of the beauty in their surroundings all the time.
The interconnected strings represent the intersection of different people and their stories and how it can bind societies into one strong community.
The installation was placed at the start of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail as people came off the stairs from the bridge and stopped to use the workout area, sit on the bench, or observe the memorial tree for homeless friends.