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Spring 2021 ︎︎︎ CUNY Queens College ︎︎︎(ARTS241) Design 1

Project: Observation + Ephemera


For this project, I want you to take a look around to whatever extent you can. It might through local restaurant menus in a folder drawer where you live, 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 redesign of the menu for Akadi, a restaurant near their studio in Portland. That being said, your work does not need to be a menu, but a menu will have typically have more content to work with.


  • Take an existing piece of ephemera; and redesign it with an understanding of its cultural “location”
  • Understand ways of hierarchically organizing information.


  • 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 hot, use Google Street View or Vernacular Typography︎ 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.

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)
    • The final piece you chose to re-design annotated with an interpretation of the information you need to re-design and the hierarchy.
    • a .PDF, with your re-design.
    • a .PNG of your final re-design.
    • An appropriate mockup of your piece in Adobe Dimension or via a mockup image.

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.
    • Make an animated advertisement for you piece.


  • 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?
  • Complexity ︎︎︎Generally I’ve found that people who chose more complex source material produced more proportionally “good” or at least thoughtful results. I’d generally not recommend doing a candy wrapper or something with a very strong cultural resonance (Coca-Cola, Snickers) unless you are ready to really re-interpret the work and think about its cultural “location”


Relevant Dates & Milestones

04/14/2021 ︎︎︎Introduction!

For homework, go on your investigative journey this week, virtual, in reality, or through memories, or whathaveyou. Take pictures of what you have observed. Or provide screenshots of what you might want to redesign. Provide (at minimum) 10 images. This is due on 04/21 and must be uploaded before.

04/21/2021 ︎︎︎Initial Ideas
For homework, select your final 3 choices and annotate the images (in Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.)  identifying both the content you have to re-design (Name, weight, nutrition facts, prices, etc) and what the hierarchy and types of information (title, sub-title, caption, etc).

If your piece is redesigning a logo or a sign you must do the following:

  • Examine the demographics of the existing logo. Who is it for?
    • What age group, gender identification, race, ethnic background, etc.
    • Examine how you might want to change the demographic you are targeting for your redesign.
    • Does it skew younger? Will it use a different choice of typography? Why or why not?

  • If your piece is packaging, a menu, or flyer you must do the following:
    • Examine the hierarchy of the existing flyer, poster, or menu.
    • How does it use different sizes of type to convey information?
    • How does it use color? Position?
    • How are the type choices for the flyer reflective of the brand or service?
    • For the type you will choose, or have chosen, research each typeface.

    • This is due 04/28 and must be uploaded before class.

04/28/2021 ︎︎︎Designs

Take your writing and research and select the final piece you want to redesign. If it is a logo, packaging, or sign, redesign 10 different versions of your piece, if it is a menu, or flyer, you must design 5 different versions. This is due 05/05 and must be uploaded before class.


Take your designs and feedback received in class and whittle your work down to one final design. Place this design into at least 1 mockup. This will be due 05/12 and must be uploaded before class.


Student Work Examples

Shira Galler reinterpration of NY Burrough Flags
Gavril Brown psychic sign reinterpretation

Mabel Zapata-Jacquez Enzo’s menu redesign
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