Check out these inspiring projects from instructor Vesna Petrovic’s Design Fundamentals course.
Design Fundamentals is our introductory course. It covers the foundations of the elements of strong visual communication, explored via a series of hands-on projects. Many–if not most–of the students in this course have had no previous art or design experience. Look what they’ve achieved in just 11 weeks:
We’re thrilled to welcome instructor Robert Checchi to teach this popular elective, inspired by our program’s long partnership with the Getty Design Center. This exciting course will travel the world, with projects inspired by the masterworks of experience design. Several guest speakers will bring a unique real-world element to the class as well. Robert tells us more:
Through real-world examples and hands-on assignments students will learn to identify and resolve design challenges in order to create successful interactive experiences for cultural and commercial applications. The course will also address the changing visitor experience as public spaces transition from pre-Covid-19 to a post-Covid-19 world. At its core experience design is interdisciplinary incorporating a variety of diverse design skill sets that include graphic design, spatial design, industrial design and digital design. Students will learn how each of these design fields are employed to create cohesive experiences that account for both the physical and emotional demands of the visitor/customer.
Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?
Throughout the course students will design a complete Covid-19 Traveling Exhibition (specific subject to be determined by the individual student groups) incorporating graphics, floorplan, display furniture and a digital experience. Each week smaller hands-on design projects will be assigned building towards a final end of term portfolio-ready presentation.
What will I take away from this course?
By the end of the course students will be able explain the role environmental graphics play in setting context. Students will be able to compare models of spatial design and recognize the impact of customer/visitor flow on the experience narrative. Creative technology is an increasingly important aspect of experiential design. The course will examine the roles of digital immersive experiences and emerging technology in designing experiences and describe the benefits and dilemmas of each technology. Finally, and most importantly, students will understand how people interact with designed environments and be able to apply that knowledge to create successful exhibitions, retail spaces and digital installations.
Unity is, in many ways, the future; people think it’s only for games, but with Unity you can build apps, movies, augmented reality experiences, and even VR simulations. People are using it in the health industry, for interior design, and more; it’s an incredibly powerful tool, with room for every type of designer. You can get inspired by what’s possible here.
Why does it require a 3-course sequence?
You could say that what we’re learning to do in the Unity classes really combines every aspect of design; in these courses we learn to build rich interactive experiences, and with that comes the need for creativity, design sense, technical know-how, UX expertise, and so much more. Music? Check. Architecture? Check. Physics? Definitely check! Whatever you’re into, there’s a way to apply it to these projects, so although we cover a lot of ground in each class, it would be impossible to get through everything Unity has to offer in just one quarter!
How will this skill set translate to the “real world” workplace?
Interactive media and games is now the biggest entertainment industry today; bigger than movies, bigger than sports, bigger than music. Maybe that interests you, or maybe you’re just curious to see what it’s about; but either way, part of what you get in the Unity sequence is a strong foundation in programming, and every year this becomes more and more valuable, in every industry. Even if you think you have zero interest in being a programmer, knowing how to “talk the talk” so to speak can give you an edge in a great many careers today.
What’s a game jam? Good question!
A game jam is an event where teams or individuals get together and each try to make a small game around a specific theme, within a specific time limit. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do!
Theme: Ghosts, Goblins, Monsters
You can make any kind of game you want, but it has to include ghosts and/or goblins and/or monsters in some meaningful way! If you’re looking for suggestions, see below!
Project Suggestions: A game where you have to find and defeat ghosts in a scary forest An app where you use the UI system to create an interactive ghost story A game where you play as a goblin and try to drive away those pesky humans! Literally just Pac-Man A movie that plays out automatically, telling a story—if you go this route, make sure to use Cinemachine, animation, and potentially Unity’s Timeline system (see lecture 7 for more info) Anything else that you can think of (as long as you can actually build it before the deadline!)
Below is the Design IV: Capstone final project, Code for America, by Manoela Dowsley and Jason Acuna. The designers shared this about the project:
Code For America is a nonprofit organization that works with government agencies on tech solutions. The organization uses the principles and practices of the digital age to improve how government serves the American Public, and how the public improves government. They consider themselves to be a network of people making government work for the people, by the people, in the digital age.
Our rebrand project for Code For America focused on modernizing the visuals aspects of the organization and make those elements memorable. In addition, we worked to improve the communication and make the mission and vision as clear as possible to the public, including possible volunteers, government agencies, and most importantly, people in need of government services. We aimed to emphasize that this organization empowers communities by raising civic awareness through the use of technology.
Our inspiration for this rebrand project was the organization’s mission to help people throughout the community through the use of technology and make government accessible to everyone.
Our design process involved taking our favorite parts of the organization’s brand elements and making them stronger and contemporary.
Below is the Design IV: Capstone final project, Animal Legal Defense Fund, by students Payal Salot and Genesis Goertz. The designers shared this about the project:
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization located in the Bay Area, CA whose purpose is to provide justice to animals as they cannot speak for themselves. We both researched the brand and identified key elements of what their preexisting branding was about and analyzed the organization’s speech to find their goals, values, and the message they want to convey.
We were inspired by the organization’s visual message of trying to position themselves as animal defenders by using key elements like the shield and animal references and decided to reinforce it making it stronger and cleaner. So we consider our project a brand refresh instead of a re-branding since we bring the preexisting design intentions of the ALDF (like their color palette, initial logo, etc) and give it a more contemporary, friendly, and iconic look to create a memorable impact in the audience’s minds.
We followed the design process given to us by our instructor Kyle Valentic in which every week we tackled different levels of design decisions. We started with design thinking and research, followed by creating a brand profile and style guide, determining identity needs (logo refresh/redesign), creating print collateral and digital assets, branding a social media channel, crafting an ad campaign, and ending with the branding of a fundraising event.
This was an extensive project we designed under the guidance and feedback of our instructor Kyle and was an excellent opportunity to deeply understand the ALDF brand and provide practical design and brand solutions that could potentially benefit their impact on the world.
In Motion Graphics III you will learn to work faster, smarter and more creatively. Learn the latest features in After Effects, and efficient ways to get things done. Through mentorship I’ll help you develop your creative voice, and actualize your ideas. In addition to advanced motion graphic assignments, I will help you develop 3 independent projects. We also will focus on career and Motion Graphic portfolio development.
Do you have a sample assignment we’ll be working on?
One assignment will be to animate Futuristic HUD Elements. These types of user interface elements are seen in Iron Man or the Star Wars movies. After setting up our layers correctly in Illustrator, we will transfer the Illustrator HUD assets into After Effects and animate each layer professionally. Finally we will add a camera, depth of field, a motion track, and composite the HUD in a video. The skills learned in this project can be used to create professional motion graphics for video games, movies, and infographics.
What will I take away from this course?
Tips and tricks for advanced animation techniques Keyboard shortcuts and mapping techniques to maximize any workflow Motion Graphics portfolio and career development Career Research skills How to tackle complex design and creative challenges and bring them to fruition Practices for finding or refining your unique creative voice