I offered a workshop in which each participant was charged with inventing a new letter form to represent a sound in the English language not covered by the individual letters of the Latin alphabet. The formal, proportional and stylistic parameters for the invented letter would be provided by a set of existing letters, which the participant found on Vinalhaven. The inspirations for this workshop were historical precedents in singularly-invented writing systems such as the Shavian Alphabet commissioned by George Bernard Shaw, the Initial Teaching Alphabet invented for English instruction in the 1950s, and the Cherokee syllabary invented by Sequoyah in the early 1800s.
I was surprised by how well my workshop was received. I was given loads of positive feedback from the other participants; it was unexpected and very encouraging. It has made me think about its educational potential and the impact that this kind of exercise can have upon experienced designers. I plan to evaluate the exercise and develop it further.