See yourself in a Film Noir!

April 17, 2021
Emilie Abrams
Class of 2022

For this project, I began with my randomly generated persona that I named Jacob Standing Bear. He is a 75 year old Native American male who lives in Dubois, WY in 1945. He is also interested in Film Noir. When challenged to design a non-screen based thing that would appeal to Jacob, I decided to design a Film Noir-style portrait studio. As a Native American, Jacob is not likely to ever see himself in any Film Noir, as the 1940s brought on a resurgence of “de-Indianizing the Indian.” Another of Jacob’s traits is that he had lots of disposable income and that, because he is 75, he is probably retired and bored, so I felt that the experience of this studio would give him something fun to do with his time. I designed the branding, take home elements, storefront and layout, as well as the service blueprint for the whole experience. I wanted the branding and the feel of the office space to transport you inside of a Film Noir as soon as you walked in the door. I also wanted the experience to be highly customizable, so that you are able to put yourself in the exact role you want within a Film Noir.

Process Work


First, I created a persona using a random generator. I then chose the traits I thought would be most important when designing such as age, time period, interest, etc. and made a connection map linking each of those traits to each other. I used the connection  learned from this an came up with 3 activities I thought would appeal to my persona, Jacob. The 3 activities I came up with were:

1. Attend a Film Noir enthusiast group/convention: Because he is 75, it is likely many of his friends are no longer around, so I thought an event where he could meet new people who have a common interest might be fun for him.

2. Attend the premiere of a new film: The 1940s and 50s was the classic period for Film Noir and there were new one coming out all the time. I would design the tickets, invitation, etc. for the event or maybe the advertisements for it.

3.Visit a portrait studio that would allow him to see himself as the star of a Film Noir: As part of a marginalized group, Jacob is not likely to ever see any other Native Americans as the star of any films, so I thought it would be cool to give him a place where he could actually be the star would be fun. He’s likely retired and bored and he has lots of disposable income. I would design the whole studio experience and the branding of it.


I chose my strongest activity, the portrait studio, and put together a rough style board to get a feel for how it would all work together.


I revised my style board and then began trying to flesh out more of the details such as the order of the experience and take home elements. 


I refined my experience plan into a service blueprint that went into more detail of each step of the process and began mocking up the front of the store. In this critique, we realized I really needed to come up with a name and identity for the store before being able to proceed.


I began experimenting with different names and styles. We felt the style of the “Venetian Blinds Studio” on the black background was strongest, but the name still didn’t feel right. I also began working on a layout for my photo envelopes to get a feel for the branding using the horizontal lines style. I also began making a floor plan of the store to show the customer’s journey through the studio.


I used the horizontal lines style on the several names I had picked out and decided “Private Eye Studio” was strongest. I found a more fitting storefront and began mocking it up with my new found branding. Now that I had my set branding, I went back and redesigned each piece for my finals: the envelope, storefront, service blueprint, and the building layout.

Completed Project Work

Emilie Abrams

Hometown: Hamilton, OH
Graduation Year: 2022
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