Category: Broken narratives (Berta’s project)

Broken narratives

Labyrinth book narrative

For this brief I chose the word Labyrinth.

I cut out different shapes and sections on the pages, each page representing a different chunk from a labyrinth maze. As the chapters went along, I cut out more and more sections, making it harder to the reader to turn the page, trying to correlate the number of chapter to the number of maze pieces.

Each page had it own individual shape, which made the pages more fragile and easily tearable causing the reader to be more cautious as they turn the page, much like in a labyrinth. I started to block out some of the text but realised this made it easier to see where the next maze sections were. Therefore, I stopped making it more complex too read as the the text lines up with the sentences behind.

Staircase theme

For the broken narrative task I decided to chose the theme ‘staircase’. I really enjoyed working with this theme because I was able to create a staircase effect in the centre of the book. I cut this out to give a spiral staircase effect. As you go through the book (down the stairs) you can see the pages from inside start to get darker and the corners start to tears away. This symbolises how the man from the theme is getting more ill every time he goes down one floor of the sanatorium. Towards the end on the last page you can see the page fully turns black. This shows his sudden death.






My chosen theme – Obsession

The brief stated that the protagonist was paranoid by the noise she suspected to be a mouse and the novel unveils her gradually going mad and destroying parts of her house to track down the noise. For my very simple design, I used a crafting knife to curve out random circles on each of the pages to represent the characters irritation with the noise and the damage that would have been caused by the rodent. It would also impact the readers into understanding the characters obsession as when they would turn each page, they would automatically try to look for the next circle as they are placed randomly but mirror the characters tension.  The book opens to just one hole in the very centre of the page, to present the initial disturbance of the mouse then the last page of the novel is blank to represent there wasn’t a mouse after all.


I created this based on the storyline of Noise, where a brother and a sister inherit their parents house and oneday they hear a noise and escape out of a smaller section through a door. The several doors I created using a craft knife and sicssors, shows the smaller sections they go through day by day to escape to finally go onto the road through a small window empty-handed.



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.