Susanna Berra

Design Challenge

Build a transmedia narrative for people looking to discover the city they live in and connect with new people


A fantasy story, working between Instagram and reality, that engages people to go out and explore Milan’s hidden places, sharing their stories and experiences to create a community from the storyworld

Personal contribution

Part in the concept idea
Complete story writing
Presentation graphics
Team leader

GrowingStories is a trasmedia narrative spread on Instagram, external websites and real life, that exploit the agency possibilities given by each media to involve the reader in an interactive experience inside a storyworld.
The main story is conveyed through an Instagram profile that, with its structure, guides the reader inside the storyworld. Through Instagram, the reader has the opportunity to follow a series of clues, that lead to real places in Milan, where by scanning hidden QR codes some extra stories can be unlocked. Conveyed through HTML pages, these stories expand the storyworld by adding details on the characters’ stories and the world itself. By sharing pictures of their explorations using the provided hashtags, people can create an online community around the story. The project is crafted on Milan, but its structure can be replicated in every other cities (changing the name and the QR codes locations).
The project was part of a collaboration with Imagis Lab (part of Politecnico di Milano’s Design department) and the project of Cascina 9.

1. Defining the project

From an immigrant story...

The project started by a short testimony of a Nigerian woman about a place that she though was important for her. From this story we took the nostalgia for a far away home, where the feeling of a community was strongly tied to the imponent and comforting presence of the mango tree. a fantasy storyworld

The storyworld was created by taking the idea of the tree as center of the community life and projecting it into a fantasy world, where people live in harmony with the nature. But as the Nigerian woman had to leave her house to come to Italy, in the same way the Big Tree’s community will have to face a threat to its peaceful world and learn how to face the outside world to save both people and Nature.


The project target was identified from the base of the core values we wanted to transmit. We decided to craft the story for young people that, in some point of their life, had to leave their “tree”, their community, to find themselves in a foreign place. The aim of the project is connected to the idea of finding a new home and a new community of people in a new city.

2. Writing the story​

The characters

After defining the values and the storyworld, we designed the characters, using Campbell’s archetypes. Each character was designed by a member of the team by defining its role in the main story, its background story and all the features and values that drive its choices.

Personal contribution: the character of Eshu, the Trickster.

The structure

The main story is shaped on Vogler’s “Hero’s Journey”. It consists in a frame, set in a present time, where the old protagonist tells the story of her Tree to the community. Through a initial flashback and a final flashforward, the rest of the story is narrated, divided in three main parts. The Instagram profile structure reflects these shift in time, by portraying the frame inside the fixed stories on top and in the last post in the end.

3. Building the transmedia experience

Media choice

The choice of the media is given by the agency allowed by each one, the level of interaction desired and the challenges defined in the first part of the design process.

Media structure

We chosed to convey the story through four different kind of narration:

Visual novel: used when the visual part is needed to show the scene to the user, but with the protagonist’s narration.
Text: used in dangerous situations, when it’s relevant to know the protagonist’s thoughts.
Comic: used for important dialogues.
Video: used in dynamic situations for showing actions and changes in the environment.

The chapters are contained in the slideshow posts of the profile. Every chapter adopts one of these narrative techniques.

4. Prototyping

Drawing and writing

We decided to realize entirely the main story on the Instagram profile and one of the side stories. The realization process consisted in:

1. Writing of the chapters
2. Definition of the storyboard for every chapter
3. Storyboard sketch
4. Drawing and coloring
5. Final assembling
6. Posting

Personal contribution: writing of all chapters, writing of the side stories, definition of the storyboards, part of the drawing finalization.


The project has been completely realized for the Instagram part and is currently online. All the story has been written, drawn and uploaded.
The final demo consisted in: the profile itself, a prototype of one of the QR codes and one HTML page, connected to the QR code, containing one of the side stories.
Feel free to explore the story!

or check the preview

developed in: 6 months – February 2018 to July 2018
team: Chiara Barzaghi, Felipe Castro, Barbara Gualandris, Jiarui Huang, Yi Wang, Selen Yesilada
tools: Adobe Photoshop/ Illustrator/ InDesign

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