Visu is a visual exploration kit targeted at people who want to be creative but don't know where to start. The kit engages the user with simple yet absorbing challenges to help their creativity thrive. This is a form of controlled creativity – activities with specific parameters that will engage the user in critical thinking to solve visual problems.
The inspiration for this kit came from my own observations of the growing popularity of adult colouring books. From this realization, I began to investigate the therapeutic potential of a simple activity like colouring books, as well as other creative activities that adults engage in as a means of creative expression and escape. I identified through primary research that many adults want to be creative but often struggle with the overwhelming possibilities of a blank canvas; Even in my personal experience as a designer I have realized my creativity is better channeled and I am more inspired when I am supplied with a set of guidelines to work within – a problem to solve.
The following exercises each belong to the the VISU visual exploration kit. These activities were chosen because they are mindful and absorbing, engaging the user’s senses through sensory stimulation. Other benefits of these activities are conceptual thinking, visual/abstract interpreting skills, organization, but most importantly, these exercises bring a sense of calm and order.
The kit booklet is the guide to the entire kit. It covers information about the research that went into the kit, outlines the contents, and explains the exercises.
Sudoku is a game of logic, problem solving and spotting patterns. It is known to help stimulate people’s cognitive abilities. The objective of the game is to fill every row, column, and each of the 3x3 squares so that each contains only one occurrence of all 9 colours.
Each game card will have several filled tiles to get started. The user should take note of the difficulty level on each game card and try working their way all the way up to ‘difficult’. To begin grab a game card and put it underneath the clear game board. The grid on the clear game board should align with the grid on the game card. Now solve the puzzle by laying in the marbles.
Typography is essential to our everyday lives – it is the form of our written language. Almost everything you interact with in a day uses type – from alarm clocks to road signs to the newspaper to the gps. Many people do not even notice typography, but when they do, they don’t see it as more than being the letters that form the words of our communication. This task asks you to challenge your perceptions of typography, taking a fresh and abstracted perspective. You will also develop your awareness of non-verbal communication through the visualization of emotions expressed through facial expressions.
What’s your current mood? in this challenge, the user must use the rub-on glyphs provided to create a visual representation of their current mood. In this exercise, the user can be as literal or abstract as they like.
The ancient Chinese art of tangram puzzles is a popular problem solving activity. The tangram puzzle consists of seven geometric pieces which, when assembled properly, form into the shape of a square. The pieces, called ‘tans’, are used to create different patterns including animals, people, numbers, geometric shapes, and more.
The challenge is to complete multiple puzzles over the span of a week using the daily themes and puzzle guide – with the solutions on the back of the page as a guide. The user is also encouraged to try creating their own images or compositions.
Through design, the meaning of a word can be communicated with the use of spacing, size, and placement of the letters in the composition. The examples on the right show use of these principles in communicating the meaning of the word through its visual appearance.
Choosing from list of words provided or picking their own word, the user begins by creating each letter needed out of the modelling clay. Once all of the letters are formed, lay out the word on a surface. The goal is to try to express the meaning of the word through the use of spacing, sizing, and placement in the composition. This means moving the letters around, squishing them together, piling them up, and lots of other variations.
This exercise challenges your creative thinking and problem solving by asking you to think both abstractly and logically. The task is to think of as many uses as possible for an everyday object (i.e. scissors, water bottle, bookshelf, or a fork) in two minutes. An example of a brainstorm for “paper clip” uses are:
Holding papers together
Pushing the restart button on your router
Keeping headphones from getting tangled up
To begin, the user selects a card from the pile, sets a timer for two minutes, and then begins listing as many alternate uses for the object as they can come up with. The goal is to be creative and original.
Paper folding is a great way for people to relax. More often, care providers and researchers have found that folding paper can help with medical conditions – particularly problems with the hands. Some therapists have found that origami helps those with low self esteem, anxiety, ADHD, autism, mental retardation, and other psychological conditions. People who have been diagnosed with depression have found that origami gives them hope. Whatever personal reason someone has for paper folding, it is a wonderful and engaging sensory experience.
With the provided paper sheets, the user must try to solve this paper folding challenge by folding each page so that each side of the page is a single colour. The answer key is provided, however, it is more of challenge to try solving the puzzle without looking at it.