Your Room is a Museum
Walls, plaster, ceilings, wooden floors. These are the physical boundaries that transform a space into a room. While a room may not seem of much value, the objects that live and exist in the space do hold value. Why? Because that is what defines the room to be yours. It is physical evidence of human existence in time and space. Take a look around your own room. You might see your favorite books, a vase, or a blanket your great-great-grandmother knitted.

Despite how meaningless these objects seem, they are fundamental to how we live. We embed our cultural histories and narratives within our everyday objects. As we start to shift our crafts, storytellings, and memories to a digital space, we must remember not to lose value in physical materials.

My Project 
Your Room is a Museum is an online exhibit of stories about second-hand objects submitted by students of SUNY New Paltz. The project serves as an opportunity to retell the story of an object, as well as inspire others to reflect on objects through a critical lens.

Through use of nostalgic imagery, tilted typography, and collage, my design choices reflects ideas of memory, objects, and space. My final deliverables include a website, print catalog, and promotional materials.
BFA Graphic Design Senior Thesis Project

Branding, Website, Print Catalog, Posters, Social Media, Motion
As a year-long individually driven thesis project, my process was uniquely formed by my personal perspective, influences, and thinking.

View PDF of Process book, or scroll below!

Why Objects?
At 21, I have amassed quite the collection of things. I’ve always been fixated on storing physical objects with the intention of memory keeping: journals filled with ticket stubs from 7th grade formals and receipts of insignificant purchases. I don’t know if my fixation was motivated by a fear of memory loss, or a simple gratitude towards the memories I was making. During my junior year of college, I took a class titled “The Materials of History, Thought, and Art” taught by Professor Cyrus Mulready. After a few class sessions, I realized the class was about object studies, and the content of the course related more to my life than I had expected.

The combination of my interests in memory keeping, object studies, and thrifting, led me to what is now my thesis project.

How does this apply to you?​​​​​​​ We often fall into generalizations of what objects can be considered artifacts. What objects deserve to be studied and remembered? We may think of King Tut’s Funerary Mask. The Rosetta Stone. The Terracotta Army. These are meaningful, yes. However, material items from our contemporary civilizations are no less important.

We are currently writing history, and the objects that surround us in the present day are artifacts. When archaeologists approach studying artifacts, they may look for certain clues to gather information on how humans lived in certain times and spaces. The objects in our rooms are the clues about how we live in the 21st century.

Who will benefit from this project?
For my project, the target audience was SUNY New Paltz students. I believe that many people my age may identify themselves as memory-keepers and collectors, especially as we experience the different shifts in our life from high school, college, to the world post-grad.

As part of Gen-Z, we are also those that are pushing towards a digital world. I think that the takeaway of remembering the importance in physical objects in a digitally advancing world will be especially valuable for this age range.

As a 21 year old college student myself, I reflected on what categories of second-hand objects were most prevalent in this stage of life.
Research & Ideation
In Thesis 1, I researched about object studies and material culture. This knowledge strengthened the direction of my project throughout the year. 

In terms of design thinking, I used affinity diagrams, information architectures, sketchings, and low-fidelity wire frames to organize my thinking as I began my design process. These structures provided something for me to lean back on as a guide.​​​​​​​
Outreach & Feedback
I used Google Forms as a way for students on campus to submit their stories and images to me. I placed the QR code link of the form at the corner of several flyer designs. I then posted these flyers across campus.

The flyers had bold assumptive statements such as, “You still have the sweatshirt your ex gave you… You stole a road sign. You used it as home decor… All of your furniture is from the side of the road… What’s the coolest thing you’ve thrifted?” I believed these strong, accusatory statements would attract attention towards my project. Even if students did not submit a story, they still got a good laugh.

I also promoted my project by visiting the students of the Spring 2023 “Materials of History, Thought, and Art” class, taught by Professor Cyrus Mulready. Since the students were already familiar with object studies, I thought they might be more eager to learn about my project.

Professor Mulready and his students actively engaged in discussion about my project, and contributed ideas that I’ve since integrated in my designs.

Once I started receiving submissions, I realized I wanted to give these object stories a space to live while I took time throughout the next few months developing my website. As a solution, I created an Instagram account titled @yourroomisamuseum to post stories as they came in. This account allowed my project to build an audience, as well as spread the word to others outside of my personal circles.
Visual Exploration
Throughout my design process I build mood boards and collect inspiring imagery using Pinterest. Exploring and collecting different images allows me to find inspiration and see how I can curate and edit a look to fit my vision of a project. When choosing what colors I wanted to use within my design system, I recognized that I wanted to match a “nostalgic” and “thrifty” feel. I curated some images on Pinterest and later chose stand-out colors to include in my project.
Design Choices
During my first weeks of collecting inspiration I received useful feedback that I implemented into my final deliverables. One comment was about how a design should reflect the values of the project. Because my project’s purpose it to value physical materials in a digitally advancing world, the design choices I choose to make should not mimic techy, digitally savvy design aesthetics. While they may be beautiful, they do not align with my project. This helped me re-route my previous designs, and design with intention.
I’ve tilted visuals in my designs with intention to mimic physical objects in space. Within the photographs, I’ve removed the human figures to emphasize how objects would speak for your life, if your living presence was removed. I used black and white halftone textures to contrast against the silhouetted objects as ways of emphasizing individual objects in a space. Within the catalog, I searched for imagery that evoked nostalgia. A part of my project’s purpose is to emphasize the value of memory, and nostalgic imagery would directly align. The images I selected personally evoked nostalgia, like I’ve have been in that room, or I’ve owned the same rug and hardwood floors.
Senior Show, Reflection, & Takeaways
At the Senior Show, I was able to have meaningful conversations with attendees about my project and purpose. Hearing from a variety of perspectives allowed me to see how valuable this initiative is for all ages.

Personal and Social Impacts
Presenting this project to others made me to realize that this topic connects with everyone in some way. It is inherently human to feel connection towards tangible, material objects. Creating a space to share your memories or stories is not only a fun form of storytelling, but also a vessel for others to connect with others through similar experiences.

Moving Forward
If I were to continue working on this project, I would have liked to make the website in full depth. Because I designed it in ReadyMag using their free-membership subscription, I hit their cap of 10 pages per project. With that, I was only able to design 2 object story pages. While all of the object stories exist on the Instagram account, I would have liked to see the website in full-functionality.

Additionally, I imagined that if this project were to exist at a larger scale, there could be some sort of pop-up small in-person exhibit. I mimicked an in-person pop-up exhibit during the Senior Show, and it was rewarding to see so many people entertained by the object stories displayed.
If there is any takeaway from this project, learn that our tangible objects cannot be separated from the role they play in our intangible histories, stories, and memories.
To recognize and preserve the role an object plays in a human experience may be as important, if not more, than the object itself.

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