Hand tools and fabrication machines
While creating a stencil to be put on a static surface can be interesting, as an interaction designer I like to think about something interactive. Refrigerator magnets are a familiar phenomenon, bedecking the cooling boxes of many a home.
I love the encouragement to play with them and rearrange them: the bright colors and round fonts practically scream GRAB ME. They're like interactive graffiti inside your own house, allowing a person to leave their mark on the place.
Given that this assignment is about graffiti in public places, I wanted to re-think the fun of refrigerator magnets. I also wanted something... a little bit evil. (My husband warns me that only an HCI person would think that this design is evil.)
I thus chose sand as the base medium for this project. Sand likewise encourages play, and its marriage with refrigerator magnets can only be happy (and/or evil).
The stencil I designed uses the adorably refrigerator-magnet-like font ag stencil. I arranged letters into semi-random orientations, spelling out a few words ("dog", "cat", "sand", "i love mommy") as encouragement to interact, with extra letters scattered around the periphery, such as one might use to spell additional words. The catch, obviously, is that sand hardly sticks together as well as an injection-molded plastic letter. Spelling in this case requires some care, if it is indeed possible at all. These are my false signifiers.
I'd love to paint this in sandy kids' parks around Berkeley. Interestingly, Berkeley's sudden transition to wetness would make playing in the sand generally less appealing, but would make spelling with the painted letters potentially more possible.