For weeks, I’ve been seeing orange.
The Project Bread Walk for Hunger materials have been coming together piecemeal; most recently, I’ve been working on items for yesterday’s Kickoff Breakfast. Whether moving back and forth between projects, or in a deadline-driven sequence, I’d been moving from piece to piece—with their entirety entirely in my head, and this concept of “the whole” solely in my mind.
In designing materials for any event, it’s important to consider how the pieces will been seen together; not just that they will be seen together, but what sort of impact they’ll have on one another, and the audience. For a cause as significant as the Walk for Hunger, however, “important” doesn’t begin to cover it.
Visualizing the pieces together seems like it’d be a simple summation. I’d been picturing them as such from the moment I started the design process, right? Of course. But as German psychologist Kurt Koffman noted, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In other words, the pieces collectively form something greater than what they seemingly should. Visually speaking, according to Gestaltism, this means human eyes see the entirety of something before they perceive its individual pieces.
But I saw the pieces before they were ever put together. I knew they’d fit, but I’d only visualized the whole. Yesterday, however, I was privileged enough to attend the Project Bread Walk for Hunger Kickoff Breakfast—and despite my previous exposure to the pieces, as I entered the event, I saw that the whole was truly greater than the sum of its parts. I’d entered the Walk’s momentary microcosm, and I was seeing orange again.
The posters, signage, water bottles, fact sheets, buttons, and so on… it was all so bright and so bold, and it was matched only by the personalities of the breakfast’s attendees and featured guests. The stories shared by these amazing people were moving, in addition to the posters and giant banners featuring this year’s “I walk…” campaign, with real Walkers sharing their personal motivation for participating.
Attendees were given the chance, via social media, to be similarly featured with their reasons to Walk. They hand-wrote them on cradled chalkboards, and then were photographed against a Project Bread Walk for Hunger backdrop in a “red carpet” fashion. These posts, among others with the hashtag #walkforhunger, populated giant screens on either side of the breakfast…not to mention the airwaves beyond the event’s walls.
Working as a designer, it’s great to focus on the job and to produce such a large collection of work. But experiencing its role, on any scale, in motivating people and bringing them together toward such an amazing cause is something else.
Having had such a connection to the pieces beforehand, I can’t help but wonder how my perception of, and reaction to the whole compares to everyone else’s yesterday morning. Did they see the pieces individually? Or instead, did they see a unified whole? The Law of Pragnanz claims that individual elements are likely to be perceived as a whole when there’s a pattern among them. With this in mind, I hope that they saw the whole—but more importantly, that they felt they were part of it.