Natalie Harmon




Sophomore Communication Design Studio
Spring 2016

This project was proposed by Tim Carryer for our communication design studio, and we were tasked with creating communications pieces that encourage homeowners to take action in improving their home's energy efficiency. Our challenge was to grasp an unfamiliar concept, to relate to an audience that is very different than us, and to find creative and appropriate ways to communicate our messages. 

My goal was to increase homeowners’ satisfaction & understanding of their homes through the process of improving their home’s energy efficiency. I designed a series of postcards that document a homeowner’s relationship with their house over time. They are written in the form of love letters, and the narrative prompts readers to place themselves in the story. It highlights common problems with houses and encourages people to know their houses better by getting an home energy score audit. By getting an audit, homeowners will then be able to discern how to best make changes to their homes and make them more energy efficient.


A big challenge of this project was making sense of the issue and finding a good way to start. Tim, our client, came in to class a few times to explain common problems in homes and demonstrate what a typical audit looks like. At first, all of our discussions seemed to be very scientific. Since we were supposed to incorporate the home energy score into our pieces, we had to talk about data, processes, and relationships. However, though these are concepts we want homeowners to know, I wanted my entry point to be more relatable and personal. Here is some of the brainstorming I did in my sketchbook. I had an idea of doing the piece from the perspective of the house to the homeowner. I wanted to frame the message in a way that appealed to people's desire for comfort and to be in control. 

This was my first shot at portraying the Home Energy Score and trying to convince people to get an HES style audit. These illustrations are by Rebekka Seale, and I used them for the sake of quick iteration. If going this route, I wanted to hand illustrate my own houses in a similar style but with my own voice. My peers said that my approach caught their attention, but the details in the drawings led to some unintended communication. Was I saying that houses with a score of 1 all look like the one on the scale? It was too specific, and only relevant to people who had similar homes.

For my next approach, I wrote an actual story and tried having more abstract forms instead of detailed illustrations. The story is written from the perspective of the homeowner about their feelings toward the home over time. I wanted the colors to drive the message, and they change from green to red as more conflict occurs between the homeowner and the house. This time, I got feedback that the form/medium didn't match with the content. I had written a cute love story, but created a somewhat dry brochure. 

Here, I decided to make postcards, and I experimented briefly with illustrations again. However, I anticipated that it would be challenging to keep the visual style consistent throughout the set.

I decided to make a pattern out of abstract house shapes, and use the colors from my earlier iteration. However, the grays made the palette a bit muted, so for the final, I added some brighter colors. I also tried to have the colors be appropriate for the part of the story that was on the back.

Feel free to look at my more detailed process here

Natalie Harmon