Blog Category: KCAI

Week 7: Branding is hard

By Erika Goering,

I started applying my visual direction to all of my screens. Some things were brought up in critique, such as the emoticons being redundant for face-to-face communication.


I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to figure out branding. It’s been a really difficult process, and I can’t figure out how to stop overthinking it. (I’m overthinking how to stop overthinking, resulting in my mind imploding.)


After a few days of driving myself crazy, I finally came up with a few names:

  • sign•ify (or signify)
  • lingo
  • gist

  Filed under: Degree Project, KCAI, Learning
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Down & Dirty with Dieter

By Erika Goering,

Lillie and I have been brainstorming and refining our concept quite a bit. We’ve narrowed it down to focusing on contradictions to the 10 principles, using types of people as the theme.

We want to push the idea that the 10 principles of design are very important, and that you don’t really notice how important they are until they’re eliminated or disregarded. And we want to use people to make it a more emotionally-driven experience.

So, here’s some of the stuff we talked about:

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Spatial Experience
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Dieter Rams: Reverse Psychology

By Erika Goering,

Lillie and I have chosen Dieter Rams (and his 10 principles of good design) for our exhibit. We’re taking those 10 principles and demonstrating how important they are by showing what happens when they are not considered. We’re referring to this as reverse psychology, where we’re showing the opposite to make our point.

We need to clean up our floor plan for scanning, but here’s a quick explanation of how we’re using the space:

  • The viewer enters the building and goes to the left, then across the length of the building, then up the back stairs, through the hallway, and down the front stairs to end the experience where they began. This utilizes the entire space.
  • Speaking of using the whole space, we also extend the exhibit into the bathrooms to create a richer experience.

As of right now, we’re trying to push our concept further, narrow down our ideas related to our concept, and work out the kinks in what we are actually showing.

  Filed under: Design Systems, KCAI, Learning
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SX Self-Assessment

By Erika Goering,

The most substantial thing that I’ve gained from this class is simply thinking outside my little digital box, and thinking in the context of space. I had spent a lot of my time in this department thinking in flat layers or shallow depth. Making the switch to an immersive experience really changed the way I think about spatial design. It’s not just putting up a sign with an arrow, herding people like cattle through a space; it’s about a whole experience literally created around the viewer. It’s not a one-way experience either; I’m not just shoving information down their throats. It can be a rich, fulfilling, all-encompassing, interactive moment.

Spatial experience isn’t just 3-dimensional. It’s also temporal, interactive, and informative as well. And the biggest challenge is taking all of that into consideration.

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Spatial Experience
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Week 6: Wireframes & Visual Exploration

By Erika Goering,


One-on-one mode can utilize both speech and ASL input from the Deaf/HoH user.


Group mode can also be used in a one-on-one conversation from afar, like across a long table in a conference room, for example.



Visual Exploration

This is a textured look that isn’t necessarily skeuomorphic, but it still gives a sense of depth and tactility.


I was going for a whimsical look here, but it didn’t really work out the way I had hoped. Oh well. It doesn’t feel right for this project anyway.


As I passionately talked about in a previous post, flat UI design is the way to go. It’s honest and true to digital media. It’s the practical, “no BS” approach, and it just plain feels right.

Next steps:

  • Branding!
  • Refine visual design
  • In-context shots (to show people what’s been in my head this whole time)

  Filed under: Degree Project, KCAI, Learning
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Find & Share: More Peripherals!

By Erika Goering,

I’m getting rid of my infrared idea for the Deaf watch. Why? Because of this thing:

It’s an armband that can sense your gestures and finger movements by how your muscles flex. (We live in the future!)

Watch the demo video to see its true awesomeness.

  Filed under: Degree Project, Find&Share, KCAI, Learning
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Week 5: New Considerations: Hardware Peripherals

By Erika Goering,

An idea that I had originally been hesitant to try was introducing theoretical hardware into the project in order to make technology less invasive. By developing something wearable, I’m starting to make the technology less of a burden and a more normal part of the person’s daily life.

Another issue that was raised was the burden of requiring multiple hearing users to download the phone app to use the “multi-device” mode. So my challenge then became to come up with a way to eliminate the need for multiple devices. So I’m getting rid of “multi-device” mode and replacing it with a kind of broadcast mode, where the Deaf user is the only person with the app and hardware, using the hardware for input and the app would then display the translated text output for everyone to see. (Sketches of this are coming soon!)

I’ve also updated my scenarios:

  • One-on-one mode: Alison, who is hard-of-hearing, orders food at a noisy restaurant. The waiter asks her a question, such as, “do you want fries or mashed potatoes?” Because of the app, she can understand and reply to the question with ease!
  • Multi-user mode: Felix, who is Deaf, is hanging out with a group of hearing friends at a coffee shop.  They have a rather energetic, quick-paced chat about school, and they can all understand each other without the need for lip-reading or slowing down (they’re all snacking and drinking coffee anyway, which makes lip-reading more difficult by nature).
  • Movie mode: An as-of-yet-unnamed user goes to a movie theater without open captions. She is able to skip the awkward process of signing out a pair of closed-captioned glasses at the front desk, and instead queues up the movie’s subtitles on her phone. When the movie starts, she hits the “sync” button and places the phone in her cup holder for easy viewing.

Next step: branding and visual exploration. I kind of put that stuff on hold so I could focus on exploring the hardware a bit more. It’s time to get back on track!

  Filed under: Degree Project, KCAI, Learning
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[jessie & erika] practical 1

By Erika Goering,

Our wayfinding concept is heavily influenced by KCAI’s informal voice and personality. We decided to focus on the unexpected moments that people may encounter when they visit or study at KCAI. We embrace the lighthearted humor and celebrate all things out-of-the-ordinary. We embrace the fact that we are not an ordinary school. We aren’t pristine or overly formal. We aren’t stuffy or uptight. We aren’t dry or shallow. We are brimming with creativity. The wayfinding should reflect that of those who inhabit it. The day to day people It should respect the space that the students call home in personality. However, it should function normally.
Kansas City is an eclectic city, and KCAI is no exception to this. Its history is diverse and long. The history is in the material. KCAI’s rich history is celebrated in its existing structures that reflect the resources and time periods from which they were made.

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Spatial Experience
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Week 4: Sketches!

By Erika Goering,

I’ve started to put some serious thought into how to actually design the deaf transcriber app:


Next steps:

  • Flesh out each mode’s scenario. (And think a bit deeper with the multi-device mode’s scenario.)
  • Start exploring branding/naming and visual design options. (Also decide how subtext will be conveyed; through emoticon, color, and/or typography.)

  Filed under: Degree Project, KCAI, Learning
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By Erika Goering,

north facing building means maximum natural light! so beautiful.

It’s crazy to think that this was originally meant to allow natural light to come through. It’s pretty sad that it is now completely covered off.

While I was out sick, Jessie Ren came up with an idea that we both ended up getting really excited about. She explained her thinking on her blog:

One of the first impressions I got from this school after transferring from a pretty standard university…was how irreverant, how informal, how casual this school was. It was an inviting ambience, a break from formality, a glimpse of the humor, the not-take-yourself-too-seriously vibe that art school is not usually all about. Modernist architecture still pervades itself in academia, and yes there is something cold about that. At the same time, some Louis Kahn respect can be held; respect the material. The material of this school is the history. the school building material bears the weight of its history, the modernist ideals of its time. There is something spiritual to respect about it.  It’s a beautiful, unapologetic statement of “I am what I am, take it or leave it”. It’s inspiring. So much so, that why can’t the wayfinding do just that? The wayfinding should respect that. It should be a perfected form. Respect the people who occupy it? The people who labor till the early hours of the morning in the spaces, now and 40 years ago. These people are not dry, these people are brimming with creativity. They are talented, technical, ironic, cheeky, rebellious. We want to reflect that in the wayfinding.

This still works with our original concept of appreciating the old and new aspects of the school, while finally bringing in an interesting visual language. We came up with the rounded arrow element as a reference to the school’s rounded brick walls at the corner of 44th & Warwick and 44th and Oak, as well as referencing the K in KCAI.

The arrow element (as you’ll see below) is a flexible graphic that can be used to communicate multiple messages.

Below are just process of the concept, we will be refining hardcore soon.

old photos of kcai can be found here

  Filed under: KCAI, Learning, Spatial Experience
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