making waves

Spring 2019


Ceremonies can be boring for guests. Making Waves, a fictional design agency, makes their client's events more engaging for their guests by introducing gestures into the experience. The first episode of Making Waves follows the team as they design gestures for a wedding.


Concept Development | Screenwriting | Music Composition

Partner: Sylvia Zepeda


In the Experience Design graduate program at Northeastern University, the Design for Human Behavior course investigated how gesture might be a point of emphasis in interaction design. Sylvia and I identified ceremonies as an experience to be enriched by gestures.


Ethnographic research | Experience Prototyping | Journey Mapping


Ableton Live


Ethnographic Research

Sylvia and I began by observing students at Northeastern in several different settings - the recreation center, the student center, the library, and the paths that connect those locations - to learn how gestures arise in everyday situations. One notable observation was that people consistently used gestures as they told stories, seemingly to express the emotion of their story. What inspired us about these gestures were that we felt they were natural expressions rather than informed by the context. As we landed on designing for guest experience at a ceremony, which is often a strong context that enforces certain behavior, we wanted to maintain the feeling of gestures as a natural movement rather than a forced action.

Concept Development

Once we decided that our area of interest was design of gestures for the guests of a ceremony, we had to determine how we would further develop that idea and how it might be communicated. Unable to gather enough people to simulate a wedding or graduation ceremony, we had to get creative with how we might present our ultimate idea in an interesting way. We turned to reality TV where audiences tune in to see houses get transformed and women attend each others weddings and grade them to find a presentation model that would fit our content. Ultimately, we decided we would design the gestures for a wedding and present it in reality TV format as two faux-reality personalities who run an agency that develops gestures for ceremonies.

To develop this idea, we simultaneously worked on creating the design model for the fake agency (called Making Waves), executed that design model for a hypothetical wedding, and crafted the story and characters to be filmed in the final video.

Journey Mapping

One step we incorporated into the design process for Making Waves which we would use to identify opportunities for gestures was journey mapping. We walked through the common touch-points of a guest to a wedding, beginning with learning about the engagement all the way to the reception. Mapping this out, Sylvia and I were able to identify where guests might feel confused, bored, or where we might be able to use gesture to enhance the experience for the guest.

After completing the journey mapping process, we identified six touch-points in the guest experience as the opportunities to use gesture to improve the experience, which are as follows:

  • The invitation to the wedding
  • Waiting for the ceremony to start
  • Objections
  • As the bride and groom exchange rings
  • As the couple departs the ceremony


Once identifying opportunities for the experience of the guest to be enhanced through gesture, Sylvia and I bounced ideas off of each other and tried them out, taking note of how we felt doing the gesture and how natural the movement felt. For gestures that involved a physical object, we created prototypes of those objects, such as an invitation to be tied together or a bracelet, to get as close to an experience prototype as we could.

What we found through prototyping was that the gestures were mostly fun and would succeed if presented to guests as activities rather than something seemingly esoteric as a new gesture.