Aimee’s GD Blog

A place to share my work and thoughts

Interactive Website Inspiration May 7, 2009

Filed under: 470 Projects — Aimee @ 9:10 am

After our group meetings today, I came home and started researching websites that had the kind of interactivity I was looking for for my LEGO time line. I’ll post the links to these sites at the bottom of this blog. Please check them out, they’re great!

The first one is for NASA’s 50th anniversary. It has the kind of date structure that I am looking to create. As you click on each decade the images shifts to a building that represents the type of structure that was common then. It also plays popular music from the time. I’m mainly looking at the date structure along the bottom. Here are some samples of the pages:


The second one is for a type foundry called Our Type. This site is great for it’s scrolling feature. You grab the little orange scroll box on the right side and drag it to wherever you want to see samples of a particular type face. This is what I had in mid for scrolling along the built modular LEGO time line segments. As you stop at a particular scene, either a pop-up will appear or I’ll make it look like some kind of a rollover effect that will display additional information about that scene and the LEGO fact it represents. Here’s a sample of that site:


Please let me know what you think. Thanks!


LEGO Term Long update May 6, 2009

Filed under: 470 Projects — Aimee @ 10:22 pm

Hello all,

Here’s a little update of what I have been up to on my lovely LEGO project. I have been in email correspondence with the manager of the local LEGO store. He is hooking me up with the local AFOL community here in Portland. Once I get this contact info, I’m going to arrange time to meet them and collect as much inf from them as possible regarding their obsession with LEGO. Hopefully I will be able to photograph some of their builds to add into my booklet of LEGO artists.

The manger is going to get approval from the head office to make sure I can hang out in the store and gather info from the employees and customers with photos. He sent me a link to AM NW website. A local builder was just featured on the show yesterday morning (I’ll post the link on the bottom of this post for all who would be interested).

Here’s what’s new: a new addition to the physical time line. It’s a representation of the quintessential opening scene from the original Star Wars. It’s to commemorate  1999 when LEGO released it’s first of many Star Wars model sets
(this is also posted on flickr).


In case I didn’t show it before, here’s the first set to the physical time line. These separate little scenes represent the release of the first LEGO brick (1953), the release of doors and windows (1954), the first LEGO town system and trees (1955). There are going to be many more that will span time up to 2009. They are still in the planning and building phase. These will all eventually be photographed and turned into an interactive web time line that will have special effects like rollovers and scrolling thru the site to navigate to the part of the time line you want to see.

My plan for deliverables is a booklet that features LEGO international artists and their work, local AFOL builders, samples of other sculptures and art pieces from all over the world. A series of “activist” posters. These are going to be a fun play on Greenpiece (Greenpeace) and PeTLA (PeTA). The physical and web interactive timeline. A logo for the AFOL community. A bunch of LEGO slogan inspired T-shirts, buttons, and bumper stickers. I think this could be a fun kit to give to people who are beginner AFOLs, something to entice them into the community.

The audience interaction part is also still in the planning stage. I need to advertise and schedule out a time and possibly a classroom to set-up my custom build program. I plan to bring in a wild assortment of bricks and other fun pieces for people to come in and create either one giant themed building or individual builds without instructions. There will also be LEGO cookies and hopefully some of the fun buttons & swag as give-aways.


I hope that after this is all done, I will have opened people’s eyes and minds to LEGO as a creative tool for adults and not just toys for kids. I’d love for participants to get inspired to start “playing” with LEGOs on their own. It’s a great creative tool that also helps in the areas of geometry, math and even architecture.


Reading #5 Directed Storytelling May 4, 2009

Filed under: 470 Readings — Aimee @ 11:42 am

“To do research into an experience… is to experience it.”

Directed Storytelling is a process used to gather accounts of people’s lives. This is a great quick method to use if time and budget are a concern. If you can’t afford the time of a long-term ethnographic research, directed storytelling is the way to go.

“The general rule: if you cannot directly observe something, use directed storytelling.”

This process is ideal for groups of three. One person is the storyteller who shares the story of the experience. The second person is the leader who leads the storyteller with questions and assists if the storyteller gets stuck. The third and final person involved is the documenter. They write down all if the important elements or ideas of the story on separate sheets of paper or post-its.

These ideas and elements are collected and sorted into groups, clusters and/or patterns. The clusters with the common elements are worked into a model or framework that show how the common elements are linked. This framework ends up being the “shorthand” for the common experienced that the participant’s have had. The hierarchy of the common elements will be developed from these frameworks and will assist the designers with the development of the design solution.

This program can be used for many different data gathering applications. It has been used for figuring out problems with the Blackboard system and to do a study to see if giving or receiving gifts was better. It is a quick and easy way to gather and present information from the user’s perspective when there is little time or budget.



Reading #4 Cultural Probes

Filed under: 470 Readings — Aimee @ 8:00 am

Design p21-29The Cultural Probes format of information gathering goes hand in hand with the Audience as Co-Designer. Both of these forms take some of the design / research responsibility out of the designer’s hands and puts it into the audience’s.

Cultural probes are a way to research and gather information about environments that are difficult to observe directly. Selected volunteers are given packs of materials like postcards, journals, maps, and cameras to document their environment or stories and experiences. Direct questions are also used to explore the participant’s lives, cultural, and technological views.

Design p21-29The participants use the items in the pack over a period of a time and then return the pack to the designers. The return rate of the probes also gives additional insight into the participants themselves. Some of the groups returned almost all of their materials quickly. Other groups returned less than half, despite initial enthusiasm. The result is a huge amount of inspirational data that the design team uses to generate a framework for the design. The probes are not directly involved in the design, but they help shape the project’s proposals. As the distinct characters of the groups emerged, the designs were more tailored to them.

This method is a fun and informative way to collect data and involve your community in the design process. It can be developed to fit any number of environmental and community applications.



Reading #3 Audience As Co-Designer April 28, 2009

Filed under: 470 Readings — Aimee @ 11:14 am

questionnaire1Audience as Co-Designer is a process by where the designer or design team steps back as the prominent idea maker and the audience is put in the position of the designer. This is done to put the cultural views and influence as the primary focus of the design campaign. The designer or team becomes the collaborator and support system for the audience co-designer.


Research methods such as surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups are used to collect the data necessary to pinpointing the needs of the target audience. When doing research for another country outside the U.S., the same methods or ideas won’t always translate to the needs or ideals of that country’s design problem. In-house research centers and virtual design studios are a great way to find that country’s cultural differences and needs for their problem solving.


Providing the audience/user groups with a formatted design process (as shown in the article) was a great tool in the development of their ideas. The students in the design lab used a process notebook as the form to develop and weed out the weakest ideas. The Kenyans were taught the design fundamentals. Through communication with their peers, the Kenyans developed their own sets of promotional campaigns for their problem. A series of interviews from actual victims were important to the campaign. They told the stories of 2 women who were treated unfairly because of their unfortunate circumstances. Now these women travel around, share their stories, and help promote the services of the HIV/AIDS foundation. The design sketches made by the audience participants were given critique from their peers in the development of their designs. These suggestions were used in some of the final promotional materials.

This process seems to be a great way of getting much needed information and input from an audience we (the designers) would normally not be able to get through traditional research means. It also enforces the importance of the audience as the final user of a campaign. We should always remember the audience and their needs or viewpoints of a campaign so we can make the best an strongest designs we can.



I’m so excited! April 17, 2009

Filed under: Aimee's News — Aimee @ 9:08 am

Hello all,

I have just found out that one of my designs was picked by a local medical clinic for their new aesthetic medicine office. I have never had anything like this happen before. It’s nice to feel that sense of acknowledgement after so much hard work. Thank you to all who have been so suppotive and encouraging these last couple of years.



LEGOs Are Not Just For Kids April 16, 2009

Filed under: 470 Projects — Aimee @ 4:56 am

As of this morning I have now changed my Term Long Project. I decided to direct my efforts to something that is closer to my heart, LEGOs!


I love LEGOs! I am what those in the community would call an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO). I’m also one of the rarer forms of an AFOL, I’m a female. We are the minority in the community. I want to design my project around the rest of us in the AFOL world. I don’t have the actual statistics yet but, the LEGO community is primarily adults (male). More kids are getting into LEGO because of all the pop culture licensed sets like Star Wars, Harry Potter & Indiana Jones. They are not my focus. I want to show the OCD world of the adult collector. By the end of all of this, I’m hoping I can assimilate more of you into the collective.


For my research/historical reference I am planning to build a LEGO time line out of actual bricks and pieces. I am going to include dates and the significant milestones of the company. The landmark releases of important pieces, sets, and mini-figures (mini-figs). If I am lucky I will actually be able to bring it into class for you all to see.

My audience participation/interaction will revolve around me bringing in an assortment of bricks and pieces in multiple colors and  set up a space in one of the rooms to host a group build. I want to make it graphic design related, so I was thinking about creating a dinensional typeface or a more conceptual piece for all of you to build. There will be no preconceived instruction booklet, just your imaginations. If anyone has a suggestion for something you would like to see built out of LEGOs, please post a comment. I will photograph the event and get feedback from everyone who participates.

My deliverables list is way too long and varied. I need to priortize my plans. At this point there will be T-shirts with witty taglines and images, PSAs about the dangers of letting kids have your LEGOs, posters with a Greenpeace spin on them, buttons, bumper stickers, etc…sculpture

I also want to present LEGO as an art form. There is more to them that just opening a box and making a pre-planned set designed by the big brain people at LEGO headquarters who need degrees from MIT to work there. There are only a handful of people in the world who are licensed by LEGO to build models, sculptures, and re-creations of famous works of art and make a living off of it. These guys make the most amazing sculptures from the humble LEGO brick.

Well, there it is my rough plan for my term long project. I look forward to see what all of you think. I think it will be a ton of fun.

By the way LEGO means Play Well. That is my little contribution to you all, play well.