Never Use Futura

Douglas Thomas
MFA Candidate in Graphic Design
Maryland Institute College of Art

Never Use Futura explores the cultural history and uses of the typeface Futura, one of the foundational typefaces of modern graphic design. The project is a playful yet passionate rebuttal to the perceived dominance of Helvetica as the typeface of modern design. Futura not only went to the Moon, and advertised for countless companies, it has been the face of German communism, British conservatism, and American politicians of all stripes. Futura became one of the most popular and iconic designs of the twentieth century in spite of a world-wide economic depression, trade embargoes, political boycotts, government prohibitions, and many knockoffs and competitors.

The project chronicles the cultural history witnessed (and recorded) by the typeface Futura from its avant-garde beginnings to its mid-century triumph and its present-day nostalgic, critical, and forward-looking uses. Even now, Futura remains the iconic typeface of tomorrow. Countless designers have used the type to signal progress and promise change but also to critique capitalism and subvert authority. Futura has sold millions of people their dreams and hopes (and shoes and cars), and ever since the Apollo missions it has embodied our cosmic aspirations. The story of Futura is more than a story of geometric shapes and Paul Renner, it is the secret history of modern public life.

 

Commute 2 Brooklyn: Visual Exploration Along Interstate 278

Mary Ann Biehl
Associate Professor
Communication Design
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

Maria Giuliani
Associate Professor
Communication Design
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

The Decisive Moment, as described by Henri Cartier-Bresson, “is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.” He continues “the precise organization of forms (…) give that event its proper expression.”  Our project, Commute 2 Brooklyn, will explore the question of significance through the lens of a series of mundane daily events.

As colleagues at a commuter college, we have each traveled over the same roads approximately 3,000 + times to reach our campus in downtown Brooklyn. We anticipate (hopefully) repeating this journey individually at least 2000 more times in the years to come. We are by no means unique. Our colleagues and students navigate their own individual journeys each semester, just as all New Yorkers do.  Whether it involves just a few short steps, traversing waterways, airways or transit systems, commuting is an experience we all share.

Using photography to capture images of the daily journey of individual drivers provides opportunities to explore moments of difference and commonality.  One driver begins her commute in Northern Queens, the other from western Nassau County. The base of the Kosciuszko Bridge on Interstate 278 forms a common point where these commutes intersect. Spanning Newtown Creek, the Kosciuszko bridge connects the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, making it a marker of significance on each commuter’s journey. Construction to replace the 75 year old bridge provides a unique opportunity to document how this change in the physical landscape affects the commuters common experience on a daily basis.

This project examines how designers/artists can respond to evolving landscape and what narratives may emerge from this cycle of observation and change. Throughout the next two years we will explore how the effects of time and space (evolving topography/technology/aesthetic) impact the “proper expression” of our Commute 2 Brooklyn.  

A Plan for a National Communication Design Educator Award

Steven McCarthy
Professor
College of Design
University of Minnesota

“How might excellence in the field of graphic design education be honored at a national level?” This question anchors this presentation about the formation of a national graphic design education award. Following our colleagues in architecture, interior, product and apparel design, whose national organizations award educators with distinction, graphic design needs to honor its educators. Acknowledging significant contributions in the areas of teaching, scholarship, service and professional practice, this award – hosted by Design Incubation – plans to elevate the myriad accomplishments of graphic design faculty.

 

The Art of Mutable Mergers: Collaborations Between Designers, Artists, Curators, and the Plastics Industry, 1960 – 74

Grace Converse
Adjunct Instructor of Art History
Purchase College, SUNY
St. Joseph’s College, Brooklyn

In the years leading up to the 1968 exhibition PLASTIC as Plastic at the Museum ofContemporary Crafts, curator Paul J. Smith and the MCC staff asked: “Can industry andthe arts join forces?” In the context of PLASTIC as Plastic, the question refers to Smith’s efforts to find a corporate partner from the plastics industry, but asking “can?” invokes variations on the question: “How and why can industry and the arts join forces?” And going deeper still, “Why would industry and the arts join forces, and what could be gained?”

These questions were asked of the many instances when major chemical companies “joined forces” with the arts in the 1960s and early 1970s: numerous partnerships were forged between designers, artist, curators, and architects and specific companies including Eastman Chemical Products Inc., Hastings Plastics Company, Hooker Chemical Company, Owens-Corning Fiberglas, Inc., Philip Morris and its subsidiaries, Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, and Rohm and Haas Company. Researching these collaborations has illuminated a historic rise in support for the arts from the plastics industry. A brief discussion of these examples will illustrate how, despite clear benefits to industry and the arts collaborating, the definition of “benefit” was subjective and open to dispute. Companies were resistant to give support because
exhibitions and projects could not guarantee a financial return, while critics were apt to spurn exhibitions and works of art that too readily announced their affiliations with industry and corporations. Artists, architects, and designers chose plastic for reasons
specific to their work, and rarely were these creators’ positions in perfect accord with critical opinion or a company’s public image. The quality for which plastic is named—its mutability—was echoed in the manifold conflicting views on its use in art and design.

Color, A “Conflict Mineral”

Grace Moon
Adjunct Professor
Graphic Design, Dept of Art
Queens College, CUNY

As many artists and designers are moved to take up social practice in their works, considering social, environmental and economic inequalities, have we paused to consider the very materials used to express our values? Our printing ink, paints, and dyes are products produced and sourced through a vast international supply chain controlled by the colorant industry with raw materials often originating in conflict zones. Many of these raw materials are considered by the U.S. State Department, “conflict minerals” (Section 1502 Dodd-Frank Act).

The colorant industry, run by multinational corporations in the developed world, profit from unregulated mining practices in developing countries. Much like “blood diamonds”, “conflict minerals” originate in destabilized war zones, in which corrupt local governments and/or armed militias control and profit form the mineral trade, exacting human rights abuses and perpetuating extreme poverty. Nowhere is this scenario starker than in Africa, host to the largest mineral industry in the world, yet home to ten of the poorest countries whose extreme poverty index runs between 57% – 88%.

While Artist colors make up a tiny fraction of the overall colorant market, these very colors are procured from the same chemical corporations that supply the automotive, plastics, coatings, pharmaceutical, and textiles industries. The following is a very brief description of a few minerals used in color making and where they are mined. Cobalt, used to make blue and violet colors, and Tin, used as a mordant in dyes are mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rutile the ore, which makes Titanium Dioxide is mined in Sierra Leone. Copper mined in the Congo and Zambia is the chemical base for phthalocyanine colors. Zinc mined in Namibia is used to make white pigment and its by-product, cadmium, is the basis for reds and yellows.

While I focus here on color, “conflict minerals” are used in digital devices, and almost everything in our fabricated industrial world. As social practice becomes more important for artists and designers who are moving toward environmental, social and communal concerns, the key ingredients of our very materials must also be take into consideration.

Design Practice Intervention: Experimental Approaches to Mapping Different Data

Rachele Riley
Assistant Professor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

As a graphic designer and researcher, I am focused on probing the visual language of maps and developing experimental strategies for representing geographical space, myth, and the dynamics of meaning. In this presentation, I will share two current design research projects in which different methodologies are used. Ranging from the poetic and language-based framework to precision in mapping and library/archival research, my interests lie in uncovering official and unofficial data, and in mapping ephemeralities at multiple scales. The first project I will present is The Evolution of Silence, which visualizes the information and location of over eight hundred nuclear detonations that occurred in Yucca Flat of the Nevada Test Site. The project embodies a shifting perception of conflict and control, and visualizes the environmental and mythic transformation of a contested landscape. The second is a series of projects called Different Data (a collaborative research project with Joshua Singer and Dan McCafferty) in which critical design methods are applied to the collection, manipulation, and interpretation of data of various environments. The Different Data project is executed in real-time as public working demonstrations and involves a high-degree of fluidity and in-the-moment discussion among ourselves, as collaborators—as we work to combine layers that are evolving, imaginary, emotional, and disorienting. Both projects intervene in the traditional understanding of graphic design. By working to situate the viewer in a reflective space, these projects provide open-ended experiences and ‘seamful’ (as opposed to ‘seamless’) constructions. My presentation will offer insight into these projects as examples of graphic design as a critical design practice.

Alterpodium: Performing Disability

Amanda Cachia
PhD Candidate, Art History, Theory & Criticism
Department of Visual Arts, University of California San Diego

The Alterpodium is a custom-made, portable disability object conceived by curator and scholar Amanda Cachia in order to “perform disability” during international and national conferences, symposiums and lectures. Podiums, like other architectures of an ableist world, are often inaccessible to Cachia’s 4’3″ stature. In 2015, Cachia commissioned artist and scholar Sara Hendren and her students at Olin College of Engineering in Boston to design a podium. They developed a podium inspired by Victor Papanek’s “nomadic furniture” of the 1970s. The design collapses easily for transport and requires no hardware. This kit-of-parts makes it possible for Cachia to literally perform this prosthetic technology, pointedly building the disability object in front of an audience before she begins to speak from it, and thereby questioning the myth of neutrality in everyday furniture. The title of the disability object, Alterpodium, is a departure from

Nicholas Bourriard’s portmanteau conception of Altermodern, which contextualizes global art-making practices with an emphasis on individuality, singularity and autonomy as a reaction against standardization. While most architectural accommodations for atypical bodies are created for seamless, even invisible integration, the Alterpodium amplifies its structural workings, elongating and emphasizing the user’s opportunity to create an alternate, provisional world in public.

Colloquium 2.4: CAA Conference 2016, Washington, DC

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Time: 9:30am – 12:00pm
Location: Hoover, Mezzanine Level, Marriott Hotel

In collaboration with CAA Task Force on Design at the 104th Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

Chairs: Steven McCarthy, University of Minnesota; Aaris Sherin, St. John’s University

Abstract submission deadline: January 17, 2016. Email abstracts for peer review to submissions@designincubation.com

Open to all 104th Annual Conference, Washington, DC attendees.

Presentations

Teaching Timeless Theory in Interactive Design through a Multidisciplinary Approach
James Pannafino
Associate Professor
Interactive and Graphic Design
Art and Design Department
Millersville University

Who Does This Internet Artwork Belong To? A Study on Art Appropriation and Youth Identity in a Digital Age
Laura Scherling

GreenspaceNYC, Co-founder

The New School, Design Lead
Teachers College,
Columbia University, Doctoral student

Conscious Interventions With The Personal Beasties Breathing Mobile App
Paula Murgia
Co-Founder Personal Beasties Group, LLC

Marianna Trofimova
Adjunct Professor
Communication Design Department
New York City College of Technology
City University of New York

Principal at Marianna Trofimova Design

A Plan for a National Communication Design Educator Award
Steven McCarthy
Professor
College of Design
University of Minnesota

Never Use Futura
Douglas Thomas
MFA Candidate in Graphic Design
Maryland Institute College of Art

Commute 2 Brooklyn: Visual Exploration Along Interstate 278
Mary Ann Biehl
Associate Professor
Communication Design
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

Maria Giuliani
Associate Professor
Communication Design
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

Alterpodium: Performing Disability
Amanda Cachia
PhD Candidate, Art History, Theory & Criticism
Department of Visual Arts, University of California San Diego

Design Practice Intervention: Experimental Approaches to Mapping Different Data
Rachele Riley
Assistant Professor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Color, A “Conflict Mineral”
Grace Moon
Adjunct Professor
Graphic Design, Dept of Art
Queens College, CUNY

The Art of Mutable Mergers: Collaborations Between Designers, Artists, Curators, and the Plastics Industry, 1960 – 74
Grace Converse
Adjunct Instructor of Art History
Purchase College, SUNY
St. Joseph’s College, Brooklyn

Teaching Timeless Theory in Interactive Design through a Multidisciplinary Approach

James Pannafino
Associate Professor
Interactive and Graphic Design
Art and Design Department
Millersville University
Undeniably interactive design is becoming a growing part of design educators curriculum each year. While technology persuades us to think differently about design education, how can we balance theory and the tools that allow designers to solve problems. Is it possible to teach timeless approaches to design thinking in this new dynamic of interactive design education?
Interactive design has many dimensions to it. It addresses how people deal with words, read images, explore physical space, think about time and motion, and how actions and responses affect human behavior. Various disciplines make up interactive design, such as industrial design, cognitive psychology, user interface design and many others.
This presentation will give the audience a starting point for creating a visual language to enhance the understanding of multidisciplinary theories within the interactive design field. It will use concise descriptions, visual metaphors and comparative diagrams to explain each term’s meaning, such as Affordances, Cognitive Load Theory, Signal and Cue and others.
What You’ll Learn:
  • That there is more to learning how to teach interactive design than simply mastering technology.
  • Various terminology from different disciplines, with a cross-comparison to interactive design processes.
  • How to use this new terminology to enhance their interactive design point of view.
  • How to learn more about this topic (as there’s much more to explore).

Conscious Interventions With The Personal Beasties Breathing Mobile App

Marianna Trofimova
Adjunct Professor
Communication Design Department
New York City College of Technology
City University of New York
Principal at Marianna Trofimova Design

Paula Murgia
Co-Founder Personal Beasties Group, LLC

A common definition of an intervention is to interfere or intercede with the intent of modifying an outcome. To that end, we designed the Personal Beasties Breathing mobile app with a very specific therapeutic intervention in mind.

Adapting mindfulness techniques for the stressed out, millennial, Internet generation via a minimal viable product (MVP) mobile app interface.

The Personal Beasties Breathing mobile app design personifies the amygdala glands of the primitive brain using animated characters. Appropriate character themed music is provided for each short “breathing session”.

To help our stressed out Millennials develop the emotional intelligence skills of the rational brain, necessary in the modern workplace, we made sure to provide them with goal setting and tracking functionality.

While promoting our app, we hit a crisis of confidence dilemma…

  • Really, just who cares?
  • What were we doing?
  • Making more compliant workers for the digital age?

We questioned our original design intent, and found it lacking… until Eric Garner died on July 17th last year, and his infamous last words were “I can’t breathe…”

Informed by a broad range of visual, spatial and cultural experiences, Personal Beasties is now taking its therapeutic mobile app into the streets, in the spirit of the Interventionist Art movement.

Personal Beasties Breathing is currently working toward raising awareness of injustices and social problems, specifically, police brutality and racism.

By attending and participating in the plethora of public events and protests in New York City, where NYPD officers are guaranteed to be working, we are engaging directly with police officers… discussing the value of using ‘simple’ relaxation techniques while under stress.

Learnings from these very public interventions are documented regularly on our blog.