My final thesis project at the Maryland Institute College Of Art (MICA) for the Graphic Design MFA investigates the positive role of an experience in today’s world and as a potential tool to consider while approaching a design problem.
By taking upon the role of a curator, planner and designer, I looked at the format of a festival/conference/event to provide a platform for the Asian and middle-east design community working in the USA. This provided these designers an opportunity to share their unique insights and connections between their culture and their work.
Titled Toast—International Design Festival, The event took place on 15 February 2019 for the Graphic design community at MICA.
Project mentors: Ellen Lupton, Jason Gottlieb and Jennifer Cole Phillips.
The letterforms reflected a path that was unique and reflected the idea of a journey. I went ahead to create a display typeface using this tool that ultimately became the core element across all my brand applications. I scanned each character, cleaned and tweaked them digitally and then finally vectorized them so that they could be used on large scale applications seamlessly. As this was a hand-drawn typeface, I was able to create contextual alternates for several characters. This was an efficient tool to break the monotony and still retain the genuineness that comes from hand-crafting letterforms. As a designer, I am fascinated by analog processes and mediums. I screen-printed posters which showcased the words’ Journeys’, ‘Inspiration’ and ‘Conversations’ as the central visual element.
I also created a set of speaker posters that highlighted the crops of the handmade typeface as background element. These set of posters became an important part of the spatial experience on the day of the event. Takeaways are essential artifacts at any event or festival. As a host for Toast–International Design Festival, I designed a number of different items for all the attendees. A craft paper bag with a handmade brush stroke, an ID card, an aluminum glass as a memento, candy sourced from three different countries and the event schedule. The bag also included a coloured handkerchief. There were six colors assigned to six tables at dinner. By providing this simple guideline, the attendees sat down for based on their allotted color. As these handkerchiefs were randomly put in their bags, this setting allowed people to talk to new people, including the speakers and the faculty. I put together a hundred of these bags. These items live on even after the event, in people’s houses and memories. Each element was carefully planned and created by me to give the attendee an insight into different materials, textures, cultures, and contexts.
Eighty people attended the event. These were not just students and faculty, but even professionals, and people not associated with the field of design. I saw this as a great opportunity for all the attendees to truly interact, network and initiate conversations with each other. Each attendee got a small bag with some goodies, including a colored handkerchief. There were six colors for six tables at dinner. By providing this simple guideline, the attendees sat down for based on their allotted color. As these handkerchiefs were randomly assigned in their bags, this setting allowed people to talk to new people, including the speakers and the faculty. The interactions were informal but insightful for each participant in that space. The taste of the Channa Masala, Chicken Tikka and Garlic Naan were a catalyst to these conversations.