Category: Broken narratives (Berta’s project)

Broken narratives


Using the removed cut outs from the inside of the book, I created my own version of what I wanted Labyrinth to look like. The title and door was cut out of a magazine I had brought for the project. I wanted there to be a sense of unknown and mystery to match the brief of the story.

Labyrinth Interior

We had a number of different themes to choose from. Each theme had a name and a story to go with it. I chose the theme labyrinth. This was a story about a family who were trapped inside a house. Every-time they opened a door it would lead them to a different part of the house, preventing them from leaving.

At the beginning I was playing around with different cuts and rips inside the book. I created diagonal and horizontal cuts trying to imitate different textures, or in this case, different rooms of the house. For my final cut (which I wish I had done throughout the whole book) was kind of like an illusion. I wanted it to look as if it was a tunnel going through the book, falling and disappearing into the distance. I cut out triangles in different sizes and angles turning and twisting throughout the pages at different thicknesses. My thought was to make it look never-ending, much like the house in the story.


After choosing my I chose the theme if ‘Noise’ with was a story of siblings who were forced onto the streets through a window of their house due to hearing noises in smaller sections of their home. I began by altering the book accordingly, with a house cut in the middle and a window in the beginning and ending covers to show their escape route, which ties in the stories, beginning, middle and end.


For this project, I chose the word “labyrinth” due to its intricate nature, which I thought would make for an interesting end result. The brief provided a story of a family that had moved into a house with unique spatial characteristics, which leads them to discover that they are not the only people that are lost in the “infinite labyrinth” of the house. With these details, I decided to carve out a tunnel with rugged details into the book to convey the story and confusion of the family that was provided in the brief. At the end of the tunnel, it leads you to the phrase “came to an end” which I thought was suitable. Additionally, I used the cuttings from the tunnel and glued them onto the cover of the book to create a seamless transition from the outside of the book to the inside.


As indicated by the title, I chose the brief ‘Labyrinth.’ I started by taking literal ideas from the brief; i.e., I cut windows into the book’s front cover, so it resembled the front door of the house. I also drew a maze labyrinth on the front cover. As I got into the text, I wanted the reader to feel confused and played with the perception to convey the confusion the characters may feel. I did this initially by cutting pages, and this gave the illusion it was only one page, but it was multiple pages. Furthermore, I continued this theme by folding pages so the reader has to interact with the book to read it; this conveyed my idea of a labyrinth and choosing a path or turn. If I hadn’t run out of time, I had planned to use blank pages to unfold and essentially reach a dead end, leaving the reader to feel like the family in the book. I did, however, execute this idea by folding the pages and then gluing them down.

Different Every Time


A client has written a novel and asks you to work on the design of the book. He wants you to develop a concept that enhances and brings forward the visual dimension of the story. He does not request a traditional design, but a book that helps to develop the narrative through its form and materiality.

Out of the given story options, I chose Labyrinth, which goes as follows:

“A family moves into a house with unexpected spatial characteristics. The rooms keep shifting position every time a door is opened. The family members are trapped inside the house and start a journey to find the front door. While they keep moving from one room to the next, they discover that they are not the only ones lost in the impossibly infinite labyrinth of the house.”


Rather than trying to think too carefully about how to display the concept of ‘Labyrinth’, I thought that just starting to work with the book after a couple of rough sketches would be a better approach given the amount of time we had to complete the project.

To get a clearer picture of what I wanted to create, I did some research on sculptural books and decided to base my design on the work of Brian Dettmer. From the summary of the story Labyrinth, I decided to focus on the fact the every time a door is opened, the rooms keep shifting position. To express this idea in a physical form I had the idea to separate the books pages into equal sized sections and cut out different shapes in each section to represent the rooms shifting, so that when the layers are laid on top of each other, the book itself looks like a labyrinth.

I started cutting out shapes from sections of the book, however due to the thickness of  the book, the sections were relatively big so cutting was a difficult task. Because of this, some of the smaller corners and thin strips of paper tore, so I reinforced these with tape, which also made the structure of each section stronger and thus made them clearer. However I decided not to tape up the top section so that it would look more haphazard and confusing, relaying how the family would be feeling at the start of the story.


This project really made me think about how to incorporate a concept or idea into an object that already exists, rather than making something from scratch. I enjoyed this project as it was very hands on from the start and had a lot of freedom concerning how we wanted to manipulate the books.


For the Broken Narratives project, I chose the story ‘Staircase’. As the brief explains, a man is being referred to lower floors for priority reasons but as you get nearer the bottom of the 7 floors, the more ill the patients are. I interpreted this as the man is getting closer and closer to death as he moves down floors, until he can’t go any further and that point is when he dies.

I wanted to portray the story in the shape of the book so you feel like you’re going on a journey down the staircase with the man as you read. I cut a staircase that had 7 steps (one for each floor) in hope that it makes you feel that as you are getting lower down the staircase, you are closer to death, which is represented by darkness in this case. The roughness of the cutting represents the man’s deteriorating health. I also coloured in the sides of the steps to define them, but kept this rough as well for the same reason.


I interpreted my prompt as a family who move into a new house and get stuck trying to navigate their way through to the ending. As you go through the book the pages get darker and more creepy, and eventually it ends with the family finding the unknown victims that came before them. It starts off innocent (as seen in second part) but there are warning signals all around them.

The book has doorways cutout to get through the story but they get progressively more unusual and abnormal for the family to get through. Without time constraints, the goal would be to finish each room in the house and develop the backstory. I would have explored more ways to display the sense of despair in the family’s house and shown that through different means of paper craft, like cutting holes into each page to mimic the feeling of being sucked in.

The brief with the backstory was a great way to practice my physical design.It had little purpose, but a lot of meaning that could be inferred through artistic methods, something I thoroughly enjoy about design.


The warning before the end.

A walk into madness

When assigned this project I wanted to turn my book into a series of immersive chapters that makes the user feel as though they are at one with the story character. I wanted to make the user feel lost and feel like they have lost a sense of clarity. My first decision was to create a stairway leading into the story labyrinth. The stairway is to act as an introduction for the story and it gives a good idea to the reader about what they are getting into. After the reader has completed their venture through the first chapter they will be met with a portal into a deep state of loss. After the portal, I decided to give the reader some pages of clarity. I wanted the reader to feel like some sense of clarity was restored because I thought it would give them false hope into believing the loss of clarity is over. Though of course, it isn’t over. Immediately after tricking the user, I threw them into a state of absolute chaos. On the left page, I used my crafting knife to make twenty vertical lines through the paper. This makes the page incredibly hard to read yet you can still make your way through the text, just like the character would find it hard to navigate a labyrinth. On the right page, I used my nails to scratch at the page and I crumpled up the page. This had the same effect as the incisions, though it portrayed how things become blurry and distorted in your mind. and finally, we make it to the last two pages of my experiment. You find a patchwork page mixed with aged and new book paper. This is supposed to be a metaphor for how time can become mixed up and lost in a labyrinth.
Overall, I was happy with how my experiment went. If I had a second attempt I would experiment more with 3D aspects of my book as I found it to be quite immersive which would entice more readers to use my product.



I chose the obsession brief and decided to take a quite literal approach to the storyline. The beginning of the book appears normal, until a mouse scurries along the bottom of the page, and from here the destruction mirrored in the brief begins through the majority of the book to convey the frantic search for the mouse. This continues up until the tears in the pages reveal a growing blackness, to represent that after all of the destruction there is nothing to be found.