Bachelor of Design students in Constanza Pacher's DESN 231: Typography II class not only got to re-envision MacEwan University's 2020/21 Book of the Year — Foe by Iain Reid — they also had the rare opportunity to present their designs to the author.
And their work blew him away.
"It was such a treat to see the thought that has gone into your work," said Reid, who met with the students at the beginning of the project to talk about his novel. "I've done a lot of readings and talked at different panels, but this is the first time I get to see people interpret my work in a different way, and it was amazing."
The premise of the assignment — and the Book of the Year in general — is to bring students closer to a piece of literature and generate discussion.
"A designer needs to be not only a good reader, but also an interpreter and a translator of the words and the content into visual form," says Pacher, assistant professor in the Bachelor of Design. "This carries a responsibility with the text, the author and the audience. To be able to surprise the viewer, designers need to go deeper into the analysis to find not only the ‘breadcrumbs’ that the author leaves, but also add their own spin."
The students took a variety of approaches to the assignment, including designing a postcard series, speculating futuristic product designs inspired by parts of the story and re-designing an element of the book (dust jacket, cover or interior). Student Vik Chu created a "welcome package" that the book's main character Junior would receive while working on the Installation (no spoilers — you'll need to read the book!). Chu even wrote his own special copy for the project. "It was so much fun to immerse myself in your world," Chu said to Reid.
Pacher adds that including Reid early in the process gave this year's project a different sense of accountability and even greater professionalism.
“Experiential learning is the process of learning by doing, and then reflecting on the experience," she says. "Trusting the students with real content and stakeholders is a boost to their confidence and sense of competence, as they start to feel that they not only belong to a learning community, but also to the larger professional community. This positions them very well for life after graduation, while encouraging a deeper emotional investment.”