The Gray Area

Photography / Print / Book

Play is an activity enjoyed for its own sake. It is our brain's favorite way of learning and maneuvering.
—Diane Ackerman

A Visual Compendium

One of my favorite design courses that I've taken as an undergrad happened to be the Pattern/Form/Surface studio under Laurie Szujewska. As a design student, it was assumed that most assignments and projects would have a defined set of rules, constraints, materials...expectations. However, Laurie's course taught me something important—that it was okay to be lost in the discovery of making. As a final project, we were to produce a visual compendium—a concise yet comprehensive summary of our personal ideas and work process in this course.

Compendium Photos

What Stories to Tell?

Three hours, two times a week. It's amazing how much you learn about yourself in a quarter-long course, especially when you're often left to your own devices. With hundreds of photographs taken, the task of narrowing down these choices to just a few that vividly express your design and discovery process was no easy one.

With all of these variables in mind, I made my selection based on the intrinsic similarities that two particular projects (using metal wire and tin foil respectively) shared between each other: the color gray. Interestingly, the color gray also related back to the gray matter that I've been familiar with all my life: my brain. My tendency to overthink design decisions and edits would make projects more tedious than necessary. However, this course led me to the epiphany that less thinking and more playing was an alternate path to discovery. Thus, the narrative of my compendium was found!

Drafting the Layout

There were many ways to interpret producing a printed compendium for display. Since the size and dimensions were open-ended, I opted to create something that could be neatly folded into smaller modules. Measuring a 36'' x 18'' layout, I was able to measure and split the grid into even spaces. As a result, the compendium would double as a booklet as well as a fold-out poster.


Final Product

Using a combination of serif (Mrs. Eaves) and sans-serif (Avenir) fonts, the typographical content of the compendium worked together with the photos in visualizing my narrative of experiments and discoveries. Using the gray motif, overthinking was given less of a focus so that assumptions would dissolve as well. Ten weeks well-spent, I'd say.

Compendium Compendium Compendium Compendium


Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Indesign, DSLR camera, reused/found items, patience