Interview with Kiara dos Reis

Honorary Mention 2023

Humans are social creatures. Although we are not conscious of it, when we try to communicate with one another our main goal is to deliver our thoughts and ideas as quickly and concisely as possible. And so, if something out of our control interferes with our main source for communication, the most common response is frustration, anxiety, or embarrassment. This is what people who have a stutter experience almost every time they communicate with a stranger. By showcasing what happens when a person stutters, St-uh-teh-rrr seeks to highlight and raise awareness of the experiences of those with speech impediments.

To emphasize how speech impediments and social anxiety often go hand and hand, neurographics, an abstract style that was designed to be therapeutic and benefit people with anxiety and other emotional or mental disorders, was chosen as the stylistic basis for the project’s symbol system. Once a style theme was chosen, the project’s symbol system began with rough sketches of the oral cavity’s layout. From there, research on phonetics was conducted. This helped inform the base sketches of how the oral cavity sits when a person makes each phonetic sound. Which is why, depending on the sound being symbolized, the visuals depict the various features of the oral cavity, including the throat, tongue, palette, teeth, and lips, as well as some surrounding features like the nose. Each sound was then represented in two symbols that depicted how it is said with and without a stutter. These 2-D compositions were then scanned and digitized.

The resulting, forty-five symbols showcase how the act of talking, although something we do so naturally, is rather complicated. We need our oral cavity and the muscles within to shape and form the sounds we’re pronouncing. However, when we stutter, the muscles in and around the oral cavity that are responsible for shaping the phonetics become tense, and don’t function smoothly. As St-uh-teh-rrr demonstrates, this can manifest in a few different ways, from causing the repetition of sounds, to prolonging them, or even creating pauses in speech. This emphasization of the complex nature of speaking circles back to St-uh-teh-rrr’s main goal. The project seeks to inspire its audience to be more empathetic to those with speech impediments so that they will not have to fear one of the most basic human experiences: speaking with strangers.

Kiara dos Reis

Kiara dos Reis is currently a first-year student studying Graphic Design at the Greenside Design Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has a profound interest in every facet of design, and thoroughly enjoys exploring a multitude of styles and practices to work towards unique design solutions.