Design Students Animate Stories Left on Phone Booth Outside Klapper Hall

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A group of three design students, with the guidance of Professor Dustin Grella, started an interactive project called “Tête-à-tête.” Each week they animate one of the anonymous voicemails that can be played in the phone booth located at the entrance of Klapper Hall. 

The three students behind Tête-à-tête are Sophia Nath, Elizabeth Lucas, and Sara Restrepo. All three are seniors majoring in Design, and  even though all three of them work together on developing concept ideas, each one of them dedicates herself to one specific job. 

Nath is the head of editing and public relations while Lucas is one of the head  animators that works on storyboarding. Restrepo does a little bit of both, as she is the co-head animator that also works on storyboarding and promotion. They told The Knight News that it takes about anywhere from three to twenty hours to animate the voice messages that students leave, depending on the concept and the length of the voicemail. Nath and Restrepo told The Knight News that they use Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Illustrator, and Procreate to make these animations come to life. 

These three talented students have managed to effectively work together throughout this  semester as a team to provide the opportunity to students and staff to have their story not only  told, but animated and published on their YouTube channel. These animated videos can also be seen inside of the telephone booth at Klapper Hall on a television screen that is constantly playing. 

An animation created by the students behind Tête-à-tête.

The phone booth is programmed by these three students to instruct the person that comes in how they should proceed to record their story. The booth makes it seem certainly easier than it really is to harvest these stories, because it is easier said than done. Professor Grella told The Knight News that, “One of the hardest things is getting people to tell stories.” 

Professor Grella brought the 40s style phone booth to the Commencement of the School of  Arts in May of 2021 to have people leave messages at the event. Then, it was kept in Klapper  Hall as he thought it could be interesting and insightful for the students to learn how to set up a  project. Since then, people have been anonymously recording their stories, but it was not until  this semester that many of them started to be animated in this advanced class called Special Topics in Design (VT: DESN 370).  

As an example, the animated message called “Gorgeous Sunsets” was recorded by an anonymous  source last summer. However, it is only through Tête-à-tête that this story was able to be  wasanimated and published this semester.

Even though this semester is almost over, the project will not totally come to an end. The phone  booth will stay, and it might even be potentially moved to different buildings at Queens College. Professor Grella stated that this class could potentially be offered in the Fall 2023 semester and offered to more than just students in the Design major.

Tête-à-tête invites all students, faculty, and staff to dial (718) 925-4745 and tell their stories by leaving a voicemail after the beep.

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