Mass Customization at Miami

Publications are traditionally mass produced. Each copy is exactly like the next. Added value comes into play only when an author signs a copy, thereby making it unique. Recently, designers have begun to produce publications which are both mass produced and custom one off pieces. For example, Daniel Eatock’s monograph includes an area on the spine for his fingerprint. Eatock went to the warehouse storing his book and applied the fingerprint to each copy himself. Each copy is therefore unique. Copies that were not fingerprinted could be brought to book signings so that Eatock could literally add his individual touch. Designer Luna Maurer designed a publication in which the page numbers were written in by hand in charcoal. Although the rest of the publication appeared to be a traditional mass produced book, the handwritten page numbers added an individual quality to each copy. In addition to the fact that they were written by hand, the charcoal smeared as the book was handled leading to more customization. In both cases, the human touch fought the anonymity of computer generated design.

Students in Miami’s Graphic Design Systems class, Art 352, recently explored mass customization through the design of literary journals. Using poetry written in a Miami graduate poetry class, students prototyped a journal that, although mass produced through lulu.com, could be customized to make each iteration unique.

Here is a sampling of their projects.

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Emily Drumm: Sector
Customization: The first page of the book includes a stamp of a pattern that shows through the cover die cut. The pattern changes for each book, pulling selection from the interior patterns.

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Emma Cooper: Parameter
Customization: Each copy includes slits in some of the pictures inside. Different images are sliced into in each volume. This creates a lovely texture as you read the book.

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Erin Killinger: Habitual
Customization: The cover has a belly band around it. The belly band is torn out by hand, making each issue unique.

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Whaley: Vicinity
Customization: The cover wrap is cut at a varying angle for each issue, revealing something different on the cover.

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Jinghang Huang
Customization: A different feather is placed randomly inside each issue.