Instruction Sets for Strangers - Process


This project perhaps as I heard was a DT favorite brought me to a personal challenge in regards to my skills and abilities. Since most of my skills were on the level of a technical and communication aspect it was interesting to see what I would be able to create based on the ideas of communication through design without text and electronics.

This is Instruction sets for strangers.


Based on our given location where we lived because they were often too far apart. We’ve decided to go within downtown NYC straying away from familiar territory which is Union Square since it’s often occupied by Parsons Students, and is also a place where art experiments occur.

So we’ve decided to go a bit down towards Washington Square Park. A place that attracted me because of the arch and the design of the area. Where it was equally divided to parts a center, left and right and a back portion.

So me and Su sat in the different areas of the park on Sunday afternoon from 1-5pm and observed.


Among the many things we noticed were

  • There were a lot of Tourists

  • Everyone is comfortable in the space

  • There were a lot of pigeons

  • People were open to approaching people who were doing something within the space

  • People were having a picnic in the grass

  • A lot of pet owners were taking their pets on a walk in the area

  • There were performances in areas of the park

  • People were more open to interacting with each other if there was a point of entry.

Thoughts and Brainstorms

One of the things I immediately thought of was how to achieve interaction without the use of verbal communication or text.

The challenge was quite interesting to me, since its a challenge to communicate directly with design and play. So I went and researched various ways of interacting with spaces and I realized it was always about using the space to fulfill ones need such as a selfie stick or more.

So I went and revisited the idea, offering to analyze the concept of interaction. I went and explored senses.

Senses of sight, sound, smell and touch. I felt these would be ideal in exploration of a device that would create interaction. Another thing I thought of interaction with another user is the concept of collaboration to achieve a goal. This can be in the form of a game or some type of device.

So we explored concepts such as hopscotch, playground toys or the simple jumping rope. This led us to various ideas, one was a collaborative painting concept where two people would paint to achieve a goal but colors are restricted and they have to work to achieve this painting goal.

The other was creating art in a space restricting drawing capability in the X and Y coordinate something like a Etch a Sketch but controls would not be for one user alone, but would require a another user on the other side to use.

Prototype 1

First prototype was using a cardboard box, nails, wood, string, tape and a marker We created the layout to match the etch a sketch using only string and a marker.

Problem was that the cardboard was too weak to hold the nails and we couldn’t move the marker properly to even have a good use of it to demo.

Prototype 2

So we used wood and the cardboard to give more strength to the nails and reevaluated our string knots to have a more simplified use of the device.

The device was able to move smoothy now, all it needed were levers and knobs to adjust the device

User Tests

We’ve tested the device with several users in D12 to see if it could be interactive. We realized that we needed to introduce a goal to the user, so we thought of trying to have a sort of tracing goal for both to realize they finished a drawing.

We’re hoping to improve this on the next iteration and the final project.