strategy and
experiments for
rituals and

Schlumpy Funk Studios 

An augmented reality experience bringing you closer to the local artist in your area. 
7 weeks, January – April 2020
Josh Kery
Michelle Cedeño
My Role
Research & Strategy Lead
UX Design
3D Modeling 
AR Prototyping 
Concept Development
Cinema 4D

The Challenge

Use tools and ideas from the class to create a technologically mediated experience for one or more people around a site/event/personality/organization - or some other relevant category - most likely using smartphones at a  specific location.

A working knowledge of 3D object creation in software as well as via cameras/scanners.

A working knowledge of Interactive authoring using the Unity 3D game engine and ways to use it for locational experiences.
A clear understanding of the state of Mediated Reality technologies and identified avenues of interest for future work.

A clear understanding of the state of Mediated Reality technologies and identified avenues of interest for future work.

The Outcome 

We created Schlumpy Funk Studio, a guided digital sculpting experience in augmented reality. Schlumpy Funk Studio celebrates the work of artist Laura Jean McLaughlin, pulling inspiration from her meditative studio practice and the many sites of her public artworks across Pittsburgh. A QR code at each site of Laura’s works gives viewers access to the Schlumpy Funk Studios, where they may chill out, collect found objects, and bring them together into Schlumpy Funk sculptures.

Schlumpy Funk helps residents of Pittsburgh learn about local artist work through augmented reality. It leverages 3d modeling, immerseive experiences, and partcipatory design to help bring Pittsburgh’s art and culture alive.

01 Project Background

Who Is Laura Jean McLaughlin?

Laura Jean McLaughlin received an MFA in ceramics from West Virginia University. Laura Jean’s work has been exhibited in over one hundred galleries and museums, including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Mobile Museum of Art, the Montgomery Museum of Art, the Ohio Craft Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Delf Norona Museum, the San Angelo Museum of Fine Art, the Baltimore Institute of Art and The State Museum of Pennsylvania. She is a recipient of the Maggie Milono Memorial Award from the Carnegie Museum of Art and three prestigious residencies from Kohler Company in Wisconsin.

Laura Jean’s ceramic work has been featured in various periodicals, including:  Germany’s New Ceramics, Korean Ceramic Art Monthly, Ceramics Monthly, Clay Times, American Style, American Craft Magazine.  Her work is featured in the following books:  Confrontational Ceramics, 500 Figures, 500 Teapots, 500 Bowls, 500 Cups, Poetic Expressions of Mortality. She received an NEA Grant for a project working with the Hmong refugee community at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, a Mid-Atlantic grant for a large mosaic installation in Baltimore, as well as a Mid-Atlantic Fellowship at WVU.  Laura Jean Has created over 100 collaborative mosaic murals and installation throughout the city of Pittsburgh and as far away as Tolne Denmark.  She also created a large set of mosaic mural steps with the Southside community and is currently creating mosaic sculptures for Library Park at the Carnegie Library in Carnegie, PA.  Her work is in the collection of the City of Pittsburgh, The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Carlow College, Whole Foods Market, the Porter~Price Collection, Kohler Art Center, Kohler Company, and HBO in New York.

What is Sclumpy Funk?

Sclumpy Funk is an independent art style founded by Laura - (a documentary featuring this work is forthcoming).  In her own words Laura descries this art movement as the following: Schlumpy Funky has its roots in the Dada and Surrealist movements and parallels the Japanese Wabi Sabi Aesthetic which embraces imperfection and serendipity.  The word Schlumpy has Yiddish origins. It typically means unkempt or disorderly while the word Funky in the art and Jazz movements means improvisational.

After interviewing Laura we heard how she brings this art style to life. She follows a very zen process. She doesn’t try to make art, it naturally comes to her. She takes old broken pieces and puts them together into sculptures in a very improvisational style. She has no plan set in her mind she just makes. We wanted to embrace this stress free creativity proess and bring it into our app. 


Below our her daily sketches that show a free form imperfect style. 



02 User Journey

Because Pittsburgh is a small city, it has designated areas that have its own culture. My neighborhood is the cultural and art sector. Before the pandemic, my street would hold fun art crawl every first Friday of the month. This project aims to revive that a bit. Having lived in Pittsburgh for almost 3 years now it is fun to notice the art scene. MOst newbies see Laura’s art work but do not know the history or origin. This AR app gives you the know how on just how to learn more. 

The first interaction on the user’s journey is that they would start to recognize a pattern and see familar art work around as they stroll about Pittsburgh. This is shown below.

The second part of the user’s journey is that they notice a QR code on one of Laura’s scultupres. The QR code will then prompt the user to download the Sclumpy Funk app. Once downloaded they will quickly learn about Laura and her studio more. All in AR!

Now we get to the fun part. We can lanuch the app now and experience Laura’s studio and learn about her sculture work. The most important aspect of this part of the app launch is calibrating the app so that the app can read how much space is available to launch all componets of the AR experience. 

Below is the blueprint of Laura’s studio and the user’s journey into what they can experience. This blueprint is actully Laura’s studio and we were able to render it fully in the app. Below the blueprint also is included the user’s key interaction 

After the guided tour and exploration of Laura’s space in AR, the main piece de resitance is achived. We can experience making our own Sclumpy Funk Sculpture. We do this by collecting artifacts around Laura’s studio. This is tored in our token chamber. And once we are done collecting we can finally sculpt. 

Have fun and explore Laura’s art work outisde in a socially distanced safe place. It is fun to get outside and experince the art. Especially during the time of Covid19 this is a great way to stil lstay connected to your community’s art work.  

Another fun fact about Laura is that she helps foster cats. She has over 20 cats in her ownership that she cares for. She is a hero among cats and so we wanted to show that within the app as well. once you are done with your sculpture your cat guide has a surprise dance for you along with his other cat friends. 

03 Concept Development


Each month, people from all over the region stroll Penn Avenue between the 4800 and 5500 blocks to meet with artists and local business owners. Visitors can expect to see everyone and everything. Families, singles, workers, students, long-time residents and first-time visitors alike can bask in Penn Avenue's creative energy – experiencing a mix of photography, dance, painting, sculpture, music and spoken word performances. The Garfield Night Market also takes place during Unblurred from May through September.You can find each month's Unblurred listings on our Events calendar. 

We also know that Laura is most known for her mosaics. She wants to focus on her sculptures more so we wanted to highlight her sculptures and make that art form of hers more well known. 

04 Prototyping

Journey Map

Figuring out the space we needed to render in AR was important. It was also necessary to know what user interaction was needed for each part in this space. Espeially because we had a guided art tour we needed to know the orientation and space that the guide would take the user through.  


As a part of our experience we needed to figure out how the controls would work operating an AR app on your phone. we went through many trial to see how best the user interaction would be. Below are some iterations we came up with. We decided that the best way to drag and drop would be aniapualting the AR components with your finger. Additionally we thought about how moement oh the phone could be a control. However without being able to test this functionality with users it was hard to determine what was the best interaction. We stuck with fingers. 


Orienting all aspects that we wanted to include in space without having it look like it was floating in air was hard. Finding the right workflow also proved to be difficult. However leaning on how we wanted to make this as close to Laura’s studio as possibel we realized we wanted to utilize photogrammetry to make things as realistic as possible. After rendering all the thousands of photos used, we took this into cinema 4D to manipuate within a different enviroment. After cinema 4D we moved into unity and that proved to be the best thing. Collborating with different files and versions was hard but well worth it!


Depicting Laura’s art work was super important. We wanted to give justice to her artwork and show all the complexities that are in involved. Rendering these objects from photo realistic images was truly a great way to make things items come to life in AR. 

Upside down head in Vivo and in AR

Urinal in Vivo and in AR

Head Bust in vivo and AR

Boots in Vivo and AR


And finally recreating Laura’s studio to make it feel like her art gallery was fun to do. WE really had to consider what compennets would make it feel like you weregazing upon art. Her space really did feel like home and that I was visiting another world eerily similar to the one I reside in. 

05 Design

Color Pallete

Design Principles

The principles of design are the rules a designer must follow to create an effective and attractive composition. The fundamental principles of design are Emphasis, Balance and Alignment, Contrast, Repetition, Proportion, Movement and White Space.

Design differs from art in that it has to have a purpose. Visually, this functionality is interpreted by making sure an image has a center of attention, a point of focus. Maybe you’re thinking, ‘But wait! I thought design was all about creativity?’ If you’re an entrepreneur or designer who’s just starting out, you might be tempted to go wild and combine the first five typefaces and colors that catch your eye, believing you’re creating something fresh and new. You will probably find yourself with a design that is muddled, unfinished, or well, just plain ugly.

We landed on the following 


Mary Jane





06 What did I learn?

3D Prototyping

The biggest take away of this project was learning the work flow from 2d to 3d.

From 2D sketches seen above to 3D sketches seen to the side, learning how to work in these programs is one that I will take with me the most. 

Also I learned anything is possible.

If I can bring my reality in the time of covid19 to life through AR, I can do anything. Playing around with these tools was super fun and a great way to explore the AR space. 

06 Reflection & Next Steps

User Research
We have learned to make the most of existing resources by trying our best to harness local and remote participants and gave compensation for their time out-of-pocket. The resulting personas was very helpful to keep us in check and avoid “designer biases”.

AR Prototyping
We spent a lot of time researching AR’s capabilities and limitations. Within a museum, there are a lot of contextual learning challenges that can be difficult to address with AR. Nonetheless, we wanted to push the boundary and leverage the existing framework withinin the museum to help patrons enjoy the exhibit.

During our design iterations, we had a hard time getting feedback on usability because our content weren’t accurate. While we eventually overcame this with generous help from museum professionals, this experience highlighted the weakness of a designer-only team.

For me, I was humbled by our research findings that continued to prove wrong our assumptions, highlighting the importance of a research-based, iterative design process.

Next Steps
The critical next step would be circulating the idea with a larger group of stakeholders, including patients. We didn’t reach out to patients for ethical concerns in the design process. However, their feedback would be key to future concept validation and iteration.