Flooding a Room with Words to Celebrate the Portuguese Language
At Sao Paulo's based Museum of Portuguese Language, one installation with seven stations invite users to discover how various languages have shaped the way we speak Portuguese today.
Client: Fundação Roberto Marinho
My roles: Interaction Designer, Software developer
Located in a busy rail station at the center of Sao Paulo, the Museum of Portuguese Language is under construction after catching fire in 2016. With the reopening expected to happen in the second half of 2019, the curators are working on new additions to the permanent exhibition, as well as reviewing some of the interaction pieces from the original project.
I was commissioned by Fundação Roberto Marinho to review the interactive installation Crosswords (palavras cruzadas). The first design dated from 2007 and displayed the content in tab-like navigation, very common on websites at the time. My role was to update the experience with a more modern interaction model while maintaining accessibility.
The final installation is expected to have seven stations. Each station will have two displays for visitors to interact. These stations will display Portuguese words and their parallel terms in Tupinambá (an ancient language from natives in Brazil), African languages Quicongo, Quimbundo, Umbundo, Yorubá, and Ewe-Fon, as well as Spanish, English, French, German, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Yiddish, Italian, Japanese, and Korean.
Creating a serverless application for an art organization, gave me the chance to work beyond my comfort zone of interaction design. I was also responsible for writing the function code, something that doesn't happen when I work with startups with larger teams and more severe deadlines. It also allowed me to extend my design practice beyond mobile and desktop screen, imagining the whole piece along with the museum's interior designers.
After evaluating the original Crossword project, I worked on three new concepts to present to the museum's creative team. I used low-fidelity prototypes to show how the interaction would happen in each of the concepts.
The first concept displayed an animated flow of words on the screen. Despite using 2D elements, the animation would give a sense of depth, as if the words were springing from a distance source. The concept was the most sensorial and reflected the idea of abundance inherent to the Portuguese language.
The second proposal displayed the content in an Instagram-stories-like format. Words would appear in alphabetical order, with its related content animated every time a new term loads on the screen. This proposal had the most passive interaction model. Users would move forward or backward and jump to a different letter. Additional content about the original language would be accessible through a secondary menu.
Inspired by the word game Hangman, the third proposal flipped the order of displaying the content. First, the visitor sees the definition of the word and the relative term in its original language. Then, the user has to fill in the letters to discover the related word in Portuguese. Users could also choose the level of difficulty, and swipe randomly through the expressions.
After I pitched the three concepts, the museum's creative team decided to go with the first interaction model. I worked on the final visual design which was approved by Studio CLDT, responsible for the museum’s branding and visual identity.
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