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Elena Manfredi

Intro //Motivate// Educate // Participate//Art and design influences // I am listening to Syrian people // The report // Using past life experiences to design // The plan and the first experiment // The PDF // Step 1 // Step 2 // Step 3 // 80 participant // Feedback from people // Dynamic, beautiful typography // Overlapping text // Anti tortures campaigns // Juxtaposition of images/concepts// Pure beautifully set typography // Richard Hollis exhibition at Gallery Libby sellers // More typographical research // // Format of the book and binding // Voting: concept 1 // Voting: concept 2 // Voting: concept 3 // Quality typefaces for a quality outcome //

Intense prototyping week // Space, it is always about that // Images, colour and different typographical treatments // Exhibition display // Promotional poster // Bibliography

index This is an interactive index. Click on different titles to go to the chosen chapter. To go back to this page click on the title.


“If I were you” is an experiment that empowered a mass of geographically separated people to collaborate in supporting individuals who are experiencing the worst time of their lives in this exact moment in which you are reading this. I gathered sentences from people all over the world to whom I sent different stories of torture (18 in total with different titles to differentiate them) described in a report published by Amnesty International titled “I wanted to die”1. Each of the people were asked to read one of these stories and imagine to be the person that lived the torture in that exact moment and to write one sentence in first person. I linked the received sentences regarding the same kind of torture and created a short story with them. The creation of a single story is the result of the collaborative work of a group of people who don’t know each other. To amplify the involvement of participants in these torture, they have been asked also to describe what kind of coulours, images and shapes they imagined while they were reading the stories of the 19 people. These answers are gathered in the appendix. 80 people from 11 different countries and 16 different cities took part in this project to create an awareness campaign to support Syrian people in their fight for freedom. I would like to thank everyone for their involvement in this project; without them it would not have been possible. This book contains the developmental process that allowed me to produce my final major project. Inside this document the reader will be able to find my inquiries and reflection about the chosen topic, primary and secondary research as well as some images of the final outcome.


MOTIVATE Inform people in a simple and direct way and identify barriers that stop people from doing something.

Involve the target audience in the production of the message using a collaborative methodology and give something back to motivate this involvement.

Uscreates/ Increase chlamydia screenings Uscreates worked with young people and NHS Birmingham East and North to increase Chlamydia screening rates among 15 to 24 year olds. Increase the Donor base In America/IDEO Centered on the mobile drive experience spanned brand, service, space, and product design to increase the organization’s visibility and foster new donor relationships. DIY Happiness/ Uscreates The DIY Happiness Game was co-designed and piloted with Londoners from start to launch.

Motivate people to participate to help others in a simple way.

Motivate people creating something original and useful for their community.

Live|Work Motivate people with dementia to maintain active and rewarding lives of people affected by dementia and strengthens communication between them and their friends and families. M-Pesa/ Vodafone and Safaricon Motivating people to use M-Pesa mobile banking service in Kenya // Collaboration between Vodafone and mobile phone operator Safaricon.

Redesigning public services/ Uscreates Workshop to redesign the face of spending cuts with a range of exercises and tools to help to stimulate creative thinking and discussion around challenging tasks. Empowering volunteers/ Uscreates Empowering volunteers through a training to make the community more breast cancer awareness.

EDUCATE Human centred design toolkit

Free Innovation guide for social Enterprises / IDEO.

Using a fun and practical workshop to create an experience that unlocks people’s creativity when faced with increasingly severe limitations ; create free material accessible by everyone online; talking to people face to face and using informal events.

I want to do something that will make people feel part of a bigger project. A project that will be visualized and owned by everybody.

PARTICIPA The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project is a traveling library of artists’ books created by thousands of people from across the globe.

Johnny Cash project/Aaron Koblin

It is a global collective art project. Invites people to share their own vision of this great artist, working with a

single frame image and a custom drawing program.

A project that will allow people to express and influence the community in which they live.

Before I die/ Candy Chang A project involving people from the city of Chicago who were encouraged to write on disused buildings what was important to them and that they wanted to do before they die. Carrer Path/Candy Chang It is a project that involved students from the city of Turku in Finland. Chang transformed a pedestrian/bike path nicknamed Uraputki, or “Career Path� by students who walked to university each day. It was an interactive

Create something that can touch the heart of the community.

space where people could write their past and current aspirations for the future with chalk. I wish this was This project involved people from New Orleans who wrote on stickers placed on disused buildings what they wished they could do to influence the community in which they lived.

… something that is easy to take part in.

I want to do something that will involve people from all over the world…

Art house co-op The Things Found Series is a project that encourages participants to capture an image of a common space and send it to art-house Co-op. It changes week after week. This image refers to “take a photo of the fridge”. The Chronicle Project challenges artists to document a single day in their lives and share it with the community. People were invited to catch an image of the meal that were having at 12 pm EST on the February 24th in all parts of the world.

I want to make something that will create a social impact and change things. I want to involve people that don’t know each other and that without my project would have not had the chance to collaborate.

J.R. He exhibits freely in the streets of the world. His work “mixes Art and Act, talks about commitment, freedom, identity and limit.” Re:FACE Based on the Victorian “Exquisite Corpse” parlor game, Re:FACE installation records and recombines body parts of its participants like mouth, eyebrows and nose.

Create something which makes people reflect… something that is good for the people who cocreate…

Tidy street Participants from Tidy street, in Brighton were recording their electricity consumption using a website. This was written on a large street display and then compared to the average Brighton household’s electricity usage. The Sheep Market/ Aaron Koblin The Sheep Market is a collection of 10,000 sheep made by workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Participants were paid 0.02 $ to draw a sheep facing to the left. Learning to love you more A series of assignments to people from the artists Miranda July and Harrel Fletcher between 2002 till 2009.

…and create something rewarding.

Art and design influences


First Things first Manifesto 2000

The Dadaism is an art movement that developed after the I War World. It was a protest against the bourgeois and nationalist and colonialist interests. With chaos and irrationality, dadaists showed their disagreement against the logic of the bourgeois capitalistic society. Having lost their faith in their culture they wanted demolish it through disorder to start again from scratch. All their project were anti-commercial and anti-art. I feel my project got inspiration from them as a protest against the contemporary state of graphic design in our school. It has been quite rare for me seeing projects that are politically or socially involved, I have never seen any graphic designer talking about a war in one of his project. I want to change this pattern

Agreeing with the 22 designers that signed this manifesto, I felt increasingly uncomfortable with a view of graphic designers who apply their skills and creativity to sell products to a capitalistic society which we do not actually need. Moreover, I felt that my portfolio was lacking a socially involved project and I found that this was a great opportunity to change that.

“The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.� - Marcel Duchamp

Art and design influences

Exquisite Corpse One of my prime goals was to create a project that would need the collaboration of people to happen and which would dislocated authorship from the individual and placing it within the collective. I found ‘Exquisite Corpse’ one of the key inspirational points of my plan. In fact, this Surrealist game: - is an exercise that can be used to stimulate the private world of the participant allowing him to draw a deeper reaction from within.” - it also allows an unpredictably of the outcome to happen.

Fluxus Fluxus movement encouraged a do-it-yourself art approach where anybody is capable of producing art by simply doing it.

Art and design influences

Wu-Ming and Luter Blisset ”Wu - Ming” is the name of a collective of five writers from Bologna. ”Wu - Ming” is a chinese word, it means either “anonymous” or “five names” it depends on how you pronounce the first syllable”. “Luther Blissett” is a name used by hundreds of artists and social activists all over Europe since Summer 1994. “This Robin Hood of the Information Age waged a guerrilla warfare on the cultural industry, ran unorthodox solidarity campaigns for victims of censorship and repression” “Anyone can be Luther Blissett simply by adopting the name. Become Luther Blissett.” — Luther Blissett Manifesto

Designers Accord “The Designers Accord is the global coalition of designers, educators and business leaders working together to create positive environmental and social impact.” “The unifying philosophy of the Designers Accord is open source. We advocate inverting the traditional model of competition, and encourage sharing best practices so we can innovate more efficiently and quickly.”

Art and design influences

The Poetics of the Open Work, 1989 By Umberto Eco It is an interesting essay dealing with an extensive discussion around the definition of “open work” throughout different historical periods in art music and architecture. Eco’s analysis includes medieval art and literature, baroque art and architecture, contemporary literature of his times, work of composers of the 1980’s and much ­more. From the reading of this essay, I adopted a few definitions of open work that helped me define what I was doing for my project. Open work: - Leaves to the performer autonomy of the interpretation in the way he chooses play the work. -Does not give a finished message, but leaves different possibilities open to the initiative of the performer. -The final result is created by the performer. - Makes the performer/user central point and lives to him endless network of possibilities. -The reception of the work is not uniquely passive, but active. The performer collaborates with the composer to create the work.

It is so easy to find something to use our design skills for; just open a newspaper and you will read that somewhere in the world, somebody needs our communication skills to be represented and be heard...

I am listening to Syrian people

Syrian uprising is an ongoing conflict part of the wave of the upheaval throughout the Arab World. It started in January 2011 as a form of protest to ask for the resignation of the President Bashar al-Assad, his under-ruling Ba’ath party and the end of the dictatorship run by his family since 1970. Since then hundreds of killings and arrests have taken place, through bombing indiscriminately and killing men, women and children. Until now the death of over 9000 people has been reported, mostly civilians as well as 14,000 others being detained (UN data). Syrian security forces have been committing crimes against humanity, including killings, torture, rape, imprisonment, and other forms of severe deprivation of liberty and disappearances. The action of the International community has been slow and still not resolving.

The report

This report gathers many stories told to Amnesty International by 19 Syrian survived to in-human mistreatments inflicted to them by the government forces of Assahd while they were detained between February 2011 to March 2012, They have been experienced in total thirty-one kind of different tortures, which are presented divided in different categories. I never read something so powerful in just one hour. It has been a shocking, but useful experience that led me to take action so as to somehow make people aware of this.

(...)in Jordan said that they had been direct victims of or witnesses to 31 methods of torture and other ill-treatment.

(...)most released detainees interviewed by Amnesty International said that, upon arrival at detention centres, they suffered prolonged and repeated beatings with fists and various tinstruments including sticks, rifle butts and electric cables, as well as kicks.

Many are held in conditions amounting to enforced disappearance. Deaths in custody have rocketed from an average of four or five reported cases a year over the past decade to 276 reported to the organization since March 2011 upo the time of writing.

Tens of thousands of people are believed to have been arrested, many if not most of these have been detained arbitrarily, held incommunicado for lengthy periods, tortured and ill-treated.

Using past life experiences to design

For this project I dug in my memories and two events- one from my childhood and one from my adolescence - were clear in front of me and ready to be used as font of inspiration. When I was 9 years old I went to a really peculiar interactive exhibition with my primary school class. The exhibition was set in cinema studios of Cinecitta’, where movies are filmed in Rome. As soon as we arrived there we were given an identity of a real war deportee. Then we were photographed, given a passport and stared the adventure. For three hours or more we were living the life of these people: following a pathway thnaks to determined instructions, I was “obliged to work in a laundry, arrested, shouted against” and so on. It was an incredible experience that give to us children an hint of what children in other parts of the world lives daily.w During secondary school I was part of a theatre group. The first three months of the first year, we had to write our own script which we would have played after. The title was “Thinking peace” and the only condition was writing in first person about anything related to this theme. People wrote about war, inner peace, sexual violence, abortion, death. The writing part was intense, but probably it was even stronger when we had to act it: when you play a role, you have to identify yourself with the caracthers that you are playing.

So why not mak people live the life of these tortured for few instants and write about their feelings i first person?

The plan and the first experiment

Choosing some of the stories from Amnesty international report “I wanted to die” Creating a PDF containing: - A short explication of what is going on in Syria (2 pages) - Explanation of the project (three pages) - One of these stories (one pages) - Two tasks: 1- Read the story and identify yourself in the detainee and write a sentence in first person. 2- Answer to: what colour can you see? What kind of image? What kind of geometrical shape?

Before I went to my first tutorial I had to try this idea on people, to test whether it would work or not. I quickly contacted four friends and they produced something really powerful. I was really excited because it worked out perfectly. After the tutorial with Paul and Catherine I received positive feedback about the idea and some useful suggestions. I had to find an easier system to make people understand what to do, so I made clear each step with big sentences like “Listen”, “Read it” “Live it” between different part of the PDF and I shortened the amount of info I gave to people.

“I was hidden. I was shaking. I prayed to God to keep me away that smell of death, even though I knew that soon I would been embraced in it. (Leonardo Suozzo) The stickiness blended with cold and fear and I cried. (Martina Paukova).The pain of my body was penetrating in my spirit my red blood was flowing along my body and drying as a I was falling in an endless well beaten by the impact of the wind on my bones.(Vittoria Magrelli)I couldn’t breath, I was choking, at one point the pain was so overwhelming I could barely feel them hitting my head and kicking my ribs. I was dead”(Luca Rosean)


I used simple and direct instructions to make participants understand different phases of this project.

Introduction about what is going on in Syria.

Torture to read with the story of the guy that experienced the torture. I have chosen 18 different ones.

Tasks to participate to this project.

More details about what will happen with the answers of participants.

Step 1: Making a list of possible participants and through facebook send them a message to understand wherever or not they would be available to take part in my project: 98% of the answers were positive!

Step 2: Choosing 18 stories of tortures, making a list of the people that were available, dividing them in 5/6 for each story.

This project involves a lot of organisation and time management. My mother was kind enough to ask to her friends to take part to my project. When compiling this list my aim was to mix people that did not know each other and who possibly lived in different countries and were of different ages and profession. I mixed people from New York, with people from Istanbul and London or people from Warsaw with people from Rome, to make a worldwide project.

Step 3: translating PDF and stories of tortures from English to Italian

80 People participated to this project from London, Istanbul, Rome, Pesaro, New York, Ancona, Ortezzano, Jena, Oslo, Macerata, Ginevra, Asti, Coimbra, Orlando, Vienna,Guarda, Sao Paulo

“Today more than ever, for your great initiative I would like to say: THANKS. Thanks for the obstinacy with whom you can win challenges that you give to yourself, for the commitment that you instill in Life, for the strength that you have got of transforming big ideas in simple everyday gestures and mostly Thanks for the good example that you give. With love and deep esteem.” Fabio

Feedback from people

I was surprised by the beauty and intensity of what certain people wrote. Also, people’s feedback was incredible. A beautiful thing was that not only close friends, but people that I had lost contact with long time ago, took part in this project and gave me some great compliments. Everybody answered within one to two days, and most of the people that I sent the PDF, participated.

Some dynamic beautiful typography, mixed with images, strong colours...

...and typography as central point of my posters, textured background, different point sizes.

Having two different kind of content, maybe overlapping text

I have three kinds of content to manage: stories of detainees, sentences of participants before reading the tortures stories and the ones after. Each of these categories is formed by 18 pieces of writing, of different length. Firstly I will need to decide if I should use all both in posters and in the book or select some. It would be interesting using an overlapping technique similar to these posters, perhaps between two stories told by the participants.

All anti tortures campaigns were mainly images based with strong and direct references to physical pain.

I was going to use uniquely typography as I believed there was no need to use any images when having such a strong content. I wanted to bring the reader to imagine what he was going to read, in the same way participant have done with the stories of detainees.

Juxtaposition of images/concepts and play with something familiar to public to grab his attention.

On these two pages, two of the most interesting anti-torture campaigns I found on the web are shown. The one above is from Leo Barnett studio and plays with juxtaposition of two images : One is a cell and the other is a look-a-like advertising for diamonds. The cleverness of this ad is the fact that the message of the campaign is written in the billboard figuring a diamond. Leo Barnett plays by juxtaposing a common advertising image with one more rare to see on a big scale, the one of a cell which re-purposes the first one as a container of the message of the second one. The second campaign, executed by He Said She Said studio, involved some worldwide football players. After making them look like they have been experiencing torture, they were photographed and their pictures spread across Germany. It was a successful campaign which played on the idea of using something really familiar to public, twisting it to send the message.

Playing with the concept of poster... does it have to be only flat?

I am looking for some pure beautifully set typography...Fraser Muggeridge, Jan Tschichold, Lupo & Burtsher‌

‌Filippo Nostri, Benedetta Grippa, Richard Hollis.

Richard Hollis exhibition at Gallery Libby sellers.

After the first tutorial with Paul, I have been suggested to visit an exhibition of Richard Hollis which, blaming my ignorance, I did not know, but apparently is one of the most famous British graphic designers of the 70’s. I went there and it was totally worth it. It was a starting point that pushed me to choose a typographical based route, rather than an image and geometrical shapes one. The way he treats typography is so simple and at the same time researched and clear. That is the way I want to go for.

More typographical research...

Format of the book and binding

The publication is going to be small format, easy to hold and experience. For the binding, I was initially thinking-as the picture above- to Singer saw the spine of the book. It would look like a wound sawn, which would go perfectly with the overall concept. At the beginning I was thinking to use black thread used by doctor exactly for this purpose, but then I considered the fact that If I wanted to sell the book, I needed a place where I could pay somebody to do it for me . I have been calling many different places that were offering this service, but most of them were doing it only on big scale orders-more than 100s. I left the binding issue to later on.

Voting: concept 1

For the next tutorial with my group we were asked to bring three completely different visual approaches to our project. The first one was showing all the stories in a simple typographical treatment, no images, no shapes no colour. All these stories would be framed and hanged to a wall during the end of the year show, and people would have the chance to access to all content in once.

Voting: concept 1

I have been looking at different layouts and how I could render this installation engaging and memorable. As I would have had to buy thirty-six frames (18 for the stories of the tortured guys, 18 for the ones written by participant) I did not wanted to spend a fortune. I found some good deal of frames of a good format 17 x 22 cm or 20x 26.

Voting: concept 2

The second concept consisted in using colors that participants suggested in the answers and make a series of posters representing each of the 18 stories. This one was the most criticized and I completely agreed with that. Apart from a bad typographical treatment, the strong colour were distracting people from the actual message.

Voting: concept 2

I applied same concept, this time just using black and white. Same as the one before, none liked it, me included.

Voting: concept 3

My favorite concept was the third one. I wanted to create a book where I could mix the two different pieces of narrative in one spread and enabling the reader to access one of the two at time and at the same time still being able to see some parts of the other one. I am passionate about playing with paper and its interactivity which is given by its capacity of folding easily, so I use it as medium to express this idea. I created a mock-up of the book. Instead of complicating my life with an hand bound book, maybe I could have used rubber band or something similar: I had to keep in mind that if I wanted to sell the book, I needed to find an easy and inexpensive way of producing it, as I did not want to sell it for a large amount of money. This concept and the first one were the most popular. It was suggested that pushed them forward.

Quality typefaces for a quality outcome

I started to concentrate on experimenting uniquely with typography. The first step was looking to different publications that have been produced in recent time. I was fascinated by the ones where two completely different typefaces are used together like a serif and san serif ones. This specific use of typography gives the outcome a dynamic look and feel, which engages the eye thanks to a more varied visual rhythm. After a long research process and trials I chose to use two really interesting and strong typefaces: Din and Bell.


Din is a really attractive, modern and neutral typeface. It is legible even in smaller sizes. As I was planning this book to be small format, I was going to need a typeface that could satisfy this need. Din family it is also composed by many different weights, which they were going to be handy for this project. Bell is a old typefaces from 1788, with sharp serif and an high level of legibility. As I am a fan of Jan Tschichold’s body of work, I researched which typefaces was mostly using and Bell was his favorite one. Both of them were chosen for their simplicity and functionality and to help the reader to concentrate on the message.


Intense prototyping week

Intense prototyping week

For a week I worked intensively using uniquely text, no colour no images and my chosen typefaces. I experimented with different format sizes, paper stock and paper weight. I wanted to somehow engage the reader and pursue my original concept of having the stories from Syrian tortured and from participants on the same plan, but separated somehow. I have done many different experiments with the format, using flap pages, smaller than the others, to separate the two different pieces of narrative, but not completely. I had a tutorial with Paul and he advised me to focus on two particular ones that I presented to him.

Space, it is always about that

I asked to many people what they thought about of adding a smaller page between two pieces of narrative, showing them my prototypes. Most of them were saying that having smaller pages all the time, probably would have been slightly repetitive. After many other experiments, I chose a simple but effective layout, where both of texts were facing each others. Printing a first mock up of the book was extremely important to understand something: it was missing space between each of the stories! I went for the last tutorial with Paul and he confirmed something that I had already realized myself: a need of some kind of devices to separate each of the story. The content of this publication is already quite heavy, I needed to find a way to engage the reader attention and create space for them to absorb what they were reading.

Images, colour and different typographical treatments One of the beauty of my profession is the endless chance that designers have to mixed different visual elements like images, typography, and colours. In this project I asked to people to describe a colour, an image and a shape they were able to imagine while reading the stories of the tortured. So why not also represent them? I was always of this opinion, but during my tutorials it came out the necessity of concentrate my work in a topographical manner. I was quite glad that it did not work because I really wanted to include this part of the project as well. I worked for a day and an half nonstop, but this sacrifice was definitely worth it.

Exhibition display

How can I engage people to interact with a book in an exhibition which will be full of other books? I solved this problem printing some of the most eye catching spreads executed in different graphical treatments ( geometrical shapes, images, beautiful and playful typography, colours and obviously some of the stories). Afterwards I intend stick them on the wall and hang the two books close to them, with a red binding stripe long enough to allow to people to read them without the need to take them away. Here they are strung to a tube, but it will also work with a nail.

Promotional poster 足 To promote the launch of this publication, which will happen during the end of the year show, I created a poster which I will send as invitation to participants and friends. I also will print few copies, put them up around LCC and other universities. The idea is to sell the book and send the money raised to Amnesty International.


If I were you- research  

“If I were you” is an experiment that empowered a mass of geographically separated people to collaborate in supporting individuals who are e...

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