Designer Products: Interview with Dóra Rea Kövér, designer from Hungary

In this post we will be speaking with Dóra Rea Kövér, Hungarian designer who was charged with designing by the National Archives of Hungary. Rea works as a freelancer designer and lecturer at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (MOME, Moholy-Nagy Művészeti Egyetem).

This interview focuses on the designing process she made for the European Digital Treasures project. All her products as well as the other designs are part of the project’s product catalogue published in the product gallery menu.

“Wanderbuch” – travelling book-set: Image by Dóra Rea Kövér.

Interviewer: Thank you Rea for taking the time to speak with me today on your work for the EDT project! School semesters are about to start so everyday life can get very busy for you now. Thank you for taking the time to interview with me.
First of all, please tell me, how long did it take for your ideas to turn into tangible plans?

Rea: Thank you for the opportunity, I’m glad to answer your questions.
It is quite difficult to define this process in time. In the beginning, the initial ideas had to be come up quite quickly, and then, in order for the products to be “born out of them”, they had to go through a lot of changes. These changes required a very different amount of time, for example, testing and developing a board game needed much more time than having a bookmark cut out of a metal plate based on a relatively simple template.

Interviewer: You made several plans for the archives, but not all of them were selected at the end. Are some of the unsealed that you regretted not making the final five?

Rea: Maybe so – but I prefer to consider the most important thing to implement the most suitable products for the given purpose. And exactly this was what happened.

Interviewer: Are there any of them that you think are feasible?

Rea: With proper improvements, all the original designs can become products.

Interviewer: Behind each plan, I feel a conscious and balanced choice of subject: the board game focuses on telling human stories, the time capsule focuses on their preservation, the travelling book-set on immortalization of notes and the impact (or lack) of travel on our lives, the bookmark on the connection between books and archives, while the inexhaustible pen emphasises the relationship between writing and the archival world. How conscious was this underlying message?

Rea: When I started working, I wanted to focus on topics that were actually related to archival life, the work done there: the storytelling and the preservation of stories in a broader sense. I thought it was important that the plans did not process the same activity, preferably each one should be different, so the variants were definitely a conscious decision. The phenomenon that these reports will eventually cover a larger field is rather a consequence of that effort.

Interviewer: Would you make yourself a time capsule?

Rea: Yes, I’ve been thinking about it, but I’m still considering what might be personally important, so I’m going to have to think about that a little bit.

Interviewer: We plan to use the time capsules at next summer’s international camp in Budapest. We plan to include you in the session where the competition winner students from Austria, Hungary, Norway, Malta, Portugal and Spain fill the time capsules with personal content. What do you expect? What do you think a high school student between the ages of 15 and 18 will hide in the capsule?

Rea: I can’t really predict… That’s why this is a good “experiment” to see what a teenager considers to be important for preservation from a tangible point of view.

Interviewer: I know from you that determining the alloy of the pen was very difficult. Without revealing your workshop secrets, will you tell me a little bit about the process?

Rea: Wow, in this subject, I wanted the metal of the pen to be the writing surface that leaves a mark on paper. Such a pen exists and it can be ordered, so I planned engraving on its surface. However, COVID crisis has greatly transformed the initial concepts, as I couldn’t count on an order, especially not from Asia, where these pens are manufactured. So, I had to find a metal to buy in Hungary, which would produce this effect. It wasn’t easy, and in the end, a magnesium aluminium rod became the solution.

Engraved, never running-out pen: Image by Dóra Rea Kövér.

Interviewer: You displayed quotes on two subjects: on the bookmark and on the pen. Are these passages of particular importance to you?

Rea: The Latin quote on the bookmark is a very early memory of equal opportunities and in general, equality, which is why it has caught my attention. It is rare to quote such thoughts from a perspective of 500 years.
I liked the other quote for a different reason. On the one hand, you may feel a kind of tension from the sentence, with which József Kővágó tried to make the text as expressive, convincing, but emotional as possible. And there is also a sense of despair in the wording, known from the historical background (the fall of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956). The human side of the text was very plastic, one that immediately drags the reader into the historical event.

Interviewer: Have you tested the board game? If so, what were your experiences?

Rea: The gameworks, as I think the rules are good… We tested it several times with different companies, even during the design process. I hope those who will play with it will enjoy it as much as we did.

Interviewer: Thank you for your time! I really hope that we can work together in the future again! I wish you many new, exciting professional challenges and new successes!

Designer Products: Image by Dorottya Szabó.

Interview by Dorottya Szabó, senior archivist,
National Archives of Hungary.

Transmedia Products

Interview with Paul Keneally, MTU

In this post we will be speaking with Paul Kenneally, from Munster Technological University (MTU), on the fantastic work he has been doing on the Digital Treasures project. In particular the interview will focus on the transmedia products he and the team have been working on developing. 

Interviewer: Hi Paul, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today on the transmedia products being developed for the digital treasures project. We know you are busy working on completing a lot of this work so we won’t keep you long.

Paul: No problem, thanks for asking me to do this. It is great to share the work we are doing.

Interviewer: Great, so first off for those not familiar with transmedia, what is it?

Paul: Yeah, so transmedia in general constitutes the mixture of using a bunch of different types of media so conventional video, graphic design, animation, some web design, and as well as some new contemporary technologies, like, augmented reality, and games. So taking that then just to create mixed disciplinary outputs that are, some again like I said are conventional in design and the way they are made, and then some are a little bit more cutting edge, for example the augmented reality.

Interviewer: Okay, so to follow that. What transmedia has been created for this project?

Paul: Yeah. So for this project, we created several transmedia products. Again, that cross disciplines, like Game Design, Augmented Reality, Video and Animation, and then as well, just combining all those, and mixing them together. So, by doing that, some of our most notable transmedia products include the use of augmented reality being embedded into old archival documents. So, that’s documents that are anywhere from decades to hundreds of years old, that have been enhanced with some sort of an animation. 

AR example

And then that’s been applied down to a third-party app that runs an AR event. So that’s how augmented reality works. Some other ones then include the use of touchscreen games. So things like matching pair quizzes, general knowledge quizzes and infinite runners is another one. Those are going to be used on touchscreens, like kiosks that will be a part of modular furniture that’s going to be at the exhibition. 

Touchscreen Kiosk

So, these screens support 10 Point touch, which is really important because it invites multiple people to interact and play it together at a time. So introducing things like competitive aspects, and as well to make sure that the players or the museum, visitors, achieve a state of flow, when they’re playing the games, so nothing obstructs them, their experience or their general enjoyment of the experience. 

Interviewer: Just on the state of flow Paul, what do you mean by this?

Paul: State of flow, is a channel that’s in between, boredom, and kind of like overbearing challenge. It’s a concept proposed by a Hungarian-American psychologist called Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and this refers to a level of optimum performance and concentration. For games, this also includes levels of fun and the desire to retry the games multiple times. Another example of this would entail really long amounts of time passing the player by without them even noticing.

Interviewer: Perfect, thank you. So how are people going to interact with these transmedia products and what will they do with them?

Paul: Yeah, so if people get a chance to go to the exhibitions, there are multiple ways, depending on what transmedia product they want to interact with. So for the touchscreen games, they just need to interact with the touchscreen kiosks and follow the instructions that are set on those screens. For augmented reality, visitors can scan each document’s respective AR trigger or AR tag to activate the AR event on the document so that will allow you then to view animated elements around the document. Other products that will be at the exhibition as well, will be things like touchscreen catalogues which again will use the same technology, they are operated the same as you operate your tablet device by using swiping gestures.

Interviewer: To put you on the spot, what was your favourite one to develop?

Paul: I actually had two favourite transmedia products for this project. The first one was the RPG (role-playing game) game. It’s been a once in a lifetime type of experience where I could make a game from start to finish, from being involved in things like the design and ideation of the script with the archivists who acted as subject matter experts to the technical execution of the game. So I’m very happy, and really lucky to have had an opportunity to do that. 

RPG Level 1

And then the second one, is actually the augmented reality itself. It’s really cool when you can take documents that are hundreds of years old, and embed this invisible extra layer of interactivity and experience this using either a tablet device or smartphone. So that’s really exciting stuff and I hope more of that gets done in the future.

Interviewer: Final question for you, if people only got the opportunity to play or interact with only one of these transmedia products. Which one of them would you definitely play yourself?

Paul: Oh, that’s a hard one. If you don’t have the opportunity to go to the exhibition, I highly recommend playing the RPG game. And given the current circumstances with COVID-19 and social distancing and all that, it’s very possible that this might be an occurrence. For anybody who is fortunate enough to go to these exhibitions, being safe and following all precautions of course, it will definitely be augmented reality. So instructions on how to install the app called Artivive will be at the exhibitions, as well as tablet devices will be there if people feel a little bit more comfortable with using devices supplied on-site.

Interviewer: Great, thanks for your time Paul and we all look forward to seeing the final product either online or in person at the exhibitions.

Interview by Niall Fahy, MTU