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A few semesters ago I gave two of my graphic design classes what I thought was an interesting assignment. I asked them to each mail me a letter and to make the address as illegible as possible and yet still be able to be delivered by the post office. I also instructed them to make the return address perfectly legible so that they would be returned to the students. After these envelopes were returned, I then anticipated having a long discussion on how form follows function and the importance of legibility within a specific context. However, the post office did not cooperate. They made every attempt to deliver the mail, beyond all expectations. They went so far as to color in ( with markers, colored pencils and graphite) areas that were nearly impossible to read. They interpreted the undecipherable, decoded the unintelligible, analyzed the unrecognizable and delivered the mail. True to their motto, they employed unconventional techniques to reach their goals. The classroom discussion became one of simple amazement and appreciation of the lengths a bureaucracy was willing to go to to complete their job and serve the public. It forced us to reevaluate exactly what legibility is. The following are the actual envelopes exactly as they arrived (or in a few cases didn’t). I have removed the return addresses and for the record, my studio is no longer at the address shown, if you can decipher it.

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One Comment

  1. thats an amazing assignment… you cease to amaze me steven… and the result, although not as planned, probably made the idea even more interesting than anticipated… i have no idea how they read some of them!


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