Designing a Phenomenon: Student Designs Inspire a New Approach to Voting
Our class "Designing a Phenomenon," taught by Brian Collins and me, is an intensive fourth-year honors class at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. It is solely focused on a designers' ability to influence and change behavior.
Inspired by the GOOD community's Take Back Tuesday challenge, we asked our students to create a new phenomenon around the act of voting. The election of the president should be cause for a celebration around the most important act every American can do: get out and vote. Every four years we debate the reasons for the deep interest in the election on one hand, but the apathy people exhibit around voting on the other.
To that end, we charged the class to rethink the rituals around voting and shift the act into a national holiday on par with other national celebrations, be it Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, or the Fourth of July. Voting is the most important thing any citizen can do—why not celebrate it as such?
Our students had two weeks to develop an idea that could symbolize this new holiday and design supportive communications to encourage broader participation on Election Day. It's one thing to create a new symbol, but it's an entirely different challenge to infuse that symbol with a motivating story. Our students developed a wide range of approaches, ranging from digital and social engagements to the purely celebratory. In the end we selected the work of two students to send along.
Minah Kim: Introducing "E Day"
Minah's identity distills the iconic notes found in the American flag into a simple wordmark. By attaching her idea to key moments in election history, Micah reminds us of the significance each vote has in every election, both past and present.
HeeSang Lee: For election day "We're Closed"
Heesang introduces a new behavior: Encourage business to take the lead in getting people to vote. She created a symbol—a simple red, white, and blue ribbon—for graphic applications.
She also designed an easy way to bring it to life: wrap the ribbon around the front doors of your place of business, your work, your office, or your building to say you're closed.
It's a provocative exploration of a new patriotic ritual.
We think there is no better phenomenon we could design than one that motivates people to vote. The students did a good job of taking this challenge head-on and created some provocative new ideas we think are worthy of further exploration.