Wallpaper Project: Part A

5 lessons

Taking a closer look at your own creative heritage, influences and current tastes.

This lesson is about finding things from our past and present; both physical objects and memories, and investigating how they might be used to influence our design perspective or ‘voice’ in this project.

Lesson menu

Equipment and tools

  • Device with internet access and a decent display
  • Camera to record what you find
  • Notebook if you want to write physical notes
  • Adobe InDesign/Illustrator or Google Docs/Google Slides to collate images and notes

Guiding questions

  • What visual or creative stimuli do I already have around/ with me?
  • Which elements and principles am I naturally drawn to?
  • What do I have around me that has come from my family/ culture to draw upon?
  • How has my past and the past of my whanau influenced my creative journey to date?
  • Can I narrow down my key visual and creative influences and unpack why I am drawn to them?
  • Can I narrow down key aspects of my design heritage?
  • Can I clarify my design voice based on my past and current taste specifically for this project?

Lesson Content

  1. We all have a story. Understanding how our stories have influenced and continue to influence our present can be a powerful tool.

    It’s not always easy to take a close look at ourselves and how we have developed as a human over time, however, it creates the opportunity for conscious control over how you think and act in the present. 

    Part of everyone’s story is our creative heritage; our experiences with art, design and making things.

    Some people may have had a particularly creative childhood, with parents or whanau who were makers themselves. This could have meant exposure to hands-on experiences in some kind of craft, or being surrounded by the artifacts of their crafts. For others, your creative moments may have been in primary school or after school activities. You may even have some distinctly unpleasant memories of creative activities. I have a powerful memory of sitting a piano exam aged 8 and having to sight read. My teacher hadn’t realised that I had been watching her hands, listening carefully and then simply repeating her; I had never learnt to read music. I sat there paralysed having no idea what the squiggles on the sheet music meant so I simply tapped away at the keys until I could see I had suitably shocked the examiner and failed the exam. I was then screamed at by my teacher in front of the prettiest and most popular girl in the piano class. Nice. 

    Block one

    My nana's sister lived in Hawaii - her closet of muumuu was out of this world

  2. Now, we are not suggesting this becomes an exercise in dredging up all your childhood memories. However, we want you to stop and think about your creative past. What brought you joy? When were you most happy? What did you love to do (until maybe you realised you weren’t as good at it as you would have liked)?

    Remember that creativity isn’t just visual and it doesn't just belong to the arts.

    Did you tell amazing stories or jokes? Did you build crazy huts and shelters? Did you watch cars drive past and turn the number plates into a maths puzzle? Did you make sculptures out of the ‘treasure draw’ (read: toilet rolls, milk bottle top and bread tags) at your nana’s? Did you like to plant seeds and watch them grow?

    Did you build elaborate obstacle courses for your pet sheep to navigate and pretend you were on Tux Wonder Dogs?

    Maybe that was just me.

    Block Two

    Xmas Day c.1990 - I got a towel and I was really excited about the pattern. Yip.

Let's do something!

  1. 1

    Objects and artefacts

    Find and photograph the following objects, artifacts and examples of your creative past and present. Don’t photograph everything you can find!

    Pick a few, say top 5, that you have the most emotional resonance with.

    • Items of family and/ or cultural importance to you
    • Items that have been made by family members and friends
    • Items you have made (these could be digital)
    • Objects, artifacts and examples of design that you love
    Objects and artefacts

    My grandmother was a wild potter

  2. 2

    Store, sort and collate images

    As in previous lessons, digital housekeeping is key. 

    We suggest storing your images like this: Google Drive>Wallpaper Project>creative heritage

    • Download your images from your device to a place that will be backed up
    • Delete any images that are duplicates or out of focus
    • Collate your images in a similar style to your DE + P reference sheets using InDesign or Google Doc/Slides
    • Remember to leave space for notes under each image
    • Select some space and note some of your memories about your creative story (in response to questions raised in lesson outline)
    • You could print the images and stick into a workbook/ notebook if you like working physically
  3. 3


    • Write some notes to accompany your images (and possibly your memories)
    • Identify the basics: what is it and why is it important?
    • Use the guiding questions to help strengthen your reflection
    • Don’t write for the sake of writing - your notes should be expanding your thinking

    Image and notes example (I inherited a LOT of National Geographics)

  4. 4

    Design elements and Principles

    • Think specifically about the design elements and principles when you look at your images and memories
    • Is there anything that stands out? Are you drawn to specific shapes? Or tones? Line? Space? You get it ...
    Design elements and Principles

    It's easier to see connections when images are side by side

  5. 5

    Clarify your design voice

    Think carefully about the following questions and develop a mood board that graphically summarises all the thinking you’ve been doing. Use the images you’ve taken for this lesson as well as images of the space you intend to use.

    • Can you clarify your taste in relation to the elements and principles of design?
    • What do you want to take forward into your design exploration?
    • Do you want to try something new or different?
    Clarify your design voice

    Anjuli's mood board

Tips & tricks

  • Take your time during this lesson - trust us - it will pay off
  • Talk to your whanau - what do they remember about you as a young person?
  • If, like us, you were lucky enough to have wild creative parents who let you get amongst it - go and thank you (we suggest a suprise macaronni card) 

You've made it to the end

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