Familiar Peculiarity

Familiar Peculiarity


Not knowing became the sole driving force for the exploration and development of this year long research project and my design journey. 

More about the project—

Familiar Peculiarity is my thesis project that is inspired by my personal experiences of the Déjà Vu phenomenon. This self-reflective project explores a scientific study and translates it into an artistic and emotional form through digital and print mediums. The final print and digital deliverables are documented in a final handcrafted, coptic stitched book.


Tools I used:
Illustrator, InDesign,
Photoshop, SketchUp

My Role—

Research, Copywriting, Brand Identity, 3D Modelling, Illustration, Book Design, Photography

My Research Topic—

Growing up, I have had frequent occurences of the déjà vu phenemenon, but didn't quite know why I experience it; I have always found it fascinating and sometimes a little weird. As I was brainstorming and selecting topics for my research, I had another déjà vu occurence and thought that it would be an interesting topic to take on and hopefully understand about this phenomenon for personal interest and knowledge. Thus, decided that my year long project would be on the déjà vu phenomenon.

I first began the research by conducting visual research, which I decided to artistically express the emotions and scenes of my déjà vu occurrences in both states—dream and reality—through the use of watercolour and illustrations (see next section). Along with conducting academic research and literature reviews, it was a straightforward process to find out more on the topics for knowledge purposes. However, the challenge began when I had to apply my research of this intangible subject to develop and design a potentially tactile product.

Visual Research

My visual research, also referred to the visual essay, is a postcard series that convey the feelings associated with my déjà vu occurences through an abstract visualisation of select personal déjà vu experiences. 

The abstraction of various colours versus the black and greys reflects the two environments required for my déjà vu experiences to occur. The black and greys represents the dream environment while the colours represents reality. The illustrations on each postcard are the moments that indicate what I had experienced in reality is exactly how I saw, heard or felt in a dream. These snippets of a moment(s) is the shared connection between my dream and reality.

Discovering how well the approach of visually conveying the déjà vu phenomenon—using watercolour and illustrations—greatly aided and inspired the artistic direction for my final deliverables of my thesis. 

My Research Question—

What is déjà vu? And how can we create an engaging interactive experience through the use of different mediums to not only stimulate and understanding, but also stimulate the experience to create the feeling of this phenomenon to the familiar and unfamiliar?

Having conducted both academic research (literature review) and visual research, I concluded that the approach to my chosen topic of déjà vu was one that would be shared through an engaging and visual experience. Not one that uses academic or scientific jargon because I decided to focus on recreating the peculiar feeling that one feels when they experience the déjà vu phenomenon. It is a feeling that can't be translated into words and printed on paper. It is an unexplainable feeling that may vary for each individual, thus I concluded that to get a better understanding of this phenomenon it is important to experience for oneself in order for an individual to conclude their own conclusion of the peculiar familiarity that the déjà vu phenomenon gives. 

My Solution—

To answer my research question, I concluded that the best way to help someone understand a topic is for an individual to experience it themselves. Due to the intangible and personal experience that the déjà vu encompasses, I wanted to build a space that would allow people to experience the step by step process of the déjà vu phenomenon, beginning from the dream stage to the moment one says "déjà vu". I concluded that there will be 2 main components for my final deliverables: 3D render and brand identity of the exhibit and a tactile memorabilia. The final components along with my visual and academic research and process of the year-long journey are documented in a hand-bound coptic book.


The Exhibition Identity

This compact brand identity is designed for the 'Familiar Peculiarity Exhibit' that is developed upon the tagline PUT TOGETHER but WEiRd. All of my design decisions from designing the logotype, selecting typefaces and the colour palette, to the incporation of visual elements, are based on the 4-word tagline.


It's a glitch. It is sudden. Split second episode. A short snippet. A dream been replayed. It's exact or irregular. We know it as déjà vu.


Familiar Peculiarity

The Exhibition

The exhibit space is designed to reflect the sequential stages of the déjà vu phenomenon. Having spoken to a few people who frequently experiences the déjà vu phenomeno, also based on my own experiences, I found out that déjà vu begins with a dream, and then one day at any random given time one would feel that their current moment is exactly what they felt, saw or heard in the dream they had.  

The Exhibit Space—

This tagline does not only sum up the entire brand identity but it is also a reflection of my thesis project. The "weird" intangible topic of the déjà vu phenomenon of my thesis project is "put together" as a conceptual rendered space, and a tangible print piece.


It's not an academic or scientific study, it's a visual experience. It's weird. It's meant to be felt and seen. It may be relatable. It's peculiar. It's familiar. It's déjà vu.


Light is the medium and catalyst that reveals content, the hidden message, and realisation you don't see at first glance.


Known Peculiarity

Tactile Memorabilia

I worked together and commissioned Paperhouse Studio to create this custom postcard watermarked paper for this portion of my deliverable: Known Peculiarity. This component is an extension of the exhibit. If the exhibit were to be an actuality, visitors of the Familiar Peculiarity Exhibit would be given this postcard with a custom illustrated watermark. The illustrated watermarks on the postcard is the moment (may it be an image or sound) that is seen in both the dream and reality. It is the indicator that what one is experiencing in reality has been dreamt before, thus déjà vu.


When someone reads this

Process + Final Book Documentation

When someone reads this is my final thesis book that documents the whole journey of the year long project. From the first stages of visual research, in depth academic research, design inspiration, to the development and final presentation of the project deliverables.

Similar to déjà vu, the title is not meant to be understood at a first glance. It will make sense once you have seen it in context.


© Livia Widjaja

Last updated 04.2019

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