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Fall 2020 ︎︎︎ SUNY Purchase ︎︎︎ (DES3510) Word & Image 3

Project: Ephemeral Awareness


For this project, I want you to take a look around to whatever extent you can. It might be on campus if you’re at Purchase, through local restaurant menus in a folder drawer, in the Lower East Side, or in Williamsburg. Examine the storefronts, the vinyl type that is peeling, the stretched out type. Look at the “rules” that are being broken and why. Find something and then bring it back with you.

The primary inspiration for this is Fisk Projects’s redesig of the menu for Akadi, a restaurant near their studio in Portland.


Take an existing piece of ephemera; and redesign that. Subsequent to that, create one piece of branded ephemera based on your redesign.


  • Do some investigation to find a piece of graphic design whose origin you can’t determine. Attempt to find one that shows evidence of the underlying design system (ie type hierarchy, visual style, etc). Take a walk before it gets too cold, use Google Street View to find a street you used to live on, go through a drawer you keep menus, go through a box of the stuff you kept from someone you used to date.
  • Redesign that piece of ephemera however you want, but consider the conventions you are adopting/going against, the underlying system and its effectiveness. 
  • Create one more piece of ephemera yet another step removed from the original piece. This could be an ad for the restaurant, a commercial, a poster, packaging design, or anything related to the original design you might think of.

The following fonts are not allowed Gill Sans, Futura, Helvetica, Gotham or system default fonts for any operating system.

Final Submission

    • an image, or a folder of of images of the piece you are redesigning. Make sure there images of each page of the document (so if it is a brochure or menu with several pages, make sure it is all documented)
    • a .PDF, with your redesign. 
    • a .PDF or appropriate file of your second piece of ephemera.

No Shuriken Mode Challenges

(Please note that, doing these do not guarantee a better grade or extra credit by any fixed or demonstrable amount, but if you’re doing or approaching these things, you’re probably doing well. The point is that, like not using shurikens in Shadow Dancer, it is more difficult, and increases your proximity to the material. All this being said don’t hurt  yourself and consider your other assignments and mental and physical health. Additionally, if you are not feeling challenged by the class or an assignment, and these suggestions are not sufficient for you, please le me know.)
    • Create an entire brand guideline based on your redesign.
    • Try to determine who made a particularly anonymous design, or determine how difficult it might be. Document this in a vlog or some kind of writing.


  • What is good and what is bad? ︎︎︎I see this largely as a project to look at design that you overlook. Why do you not think about it? Is it so transparent that it is just there, or do you dismiss it as not even design? Is it possible to determine who made it? Who might you have to ask? 
  • Look for systems ︎︎︎Rather than a wheatpasted poster with minimal type, look for a menu with a typographical hierarchy, a brochure with callouts and quotes, find something that has evidence of design thinking.

Relevant Dates & Milestones

  • 11/02/2020 ︎︎︎Introduction!

  • Go on your investigative journey this week, virtual, in reality, or through memories, or whathaveyou.
  • 11/09/2020 ︎︎︎Continue
  • You should have determined what you are working with and started the design process by this point.
  • 11/23/2020 ︎︎︎Review progress 

  • We will review progress and any questions at this point, you should be far enough along to review this piece.
  • 11/30/2020︎︎︎ Critique!

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