PERSONALIZE. COMMUNICATE. SOCIALIZE. LISTEN. PREPARE: Teaching Professional Practices for Designers

“Professional Practices” is designed to help bridge the gap from being a student to becoming a working professional.

Holly Tienken
Assistant Professor
Communication Design
Kutztown University

When completing my BFA in Communication Design in the late 90’s, I felt 100% prepared to enter the professional world. Armed with a meticulously designed portfolio and ample technical skills, I hit the job market eager and willing to do whatever it took to land a job. Unfortunately, I found myself unprepared with necessary practical skill including interview techniques, contract reviews and salary negotiations.

My 20+ years in the industry working in a variety of settings including in-house, at small- and mid- sized agencies, and full-time freelancing have taught me numerous valuable lessons unrelated to pixels and printing. I believe experiencing both success and “failure” are necessary for healthy personal and professional growth—but with insight, many bumps and bruises can be avoided.

The course “Professional Practices” is designed to help bridge the gap from being a student to becoming a working professional. Course structure is varied and diverse including guest lectures from industry professionals; class exercises such as peer-to-peer interview prep and “Battle of the Elevator Pitch”; group discussions on topics such as salary negotiation, and understanding value and worth as a designer; and lectures on topics related to freelancing basics, cost of living, and job hunting strategies.

As the students embark on their career path the tools and knowledge gained will aid in navigating unfamiliar and sometime indimidating situation with more confidence and a defined direction. The objective is not only to help the students secure a job, but ultimately lead to an environment where they will thrive.

Thoughtful Social Impact Through Scaffolded Design Methods and Well-Time Fieldwork

A spring 2018 design studio, case study—how to attain that balance of a good quality course and meaningful social design.

Cynthia Lawson
Associate Professor of Integrated Design
Parsons, The New School

Alik Mikaelian
MFA Transdisciplinary Design Candidate
DEED Lab Research Fellow
Parsons, The New School

Devanshi Sihare
Design Strategist

Megan Willy
MFA Transdisciplinary Design Candidate
Parsons, The New School

The past decade has seen an explosion of interest from the design academy in running projects and courses on design and social impact. The challenge remains, however, to have students get enough exposure on relevant competencies in the 15-week semester.

This presentation discusses a spring 2018 design studio as a case study in how to attain that balance of a good quality course and meaningful social design. Specific methods of both course development and delivery as well as conducting design research are discussed. The ultimate stakeholders of this course’s projects were in a different country and not easily accessible, adding a particular complexity.

The first part of the semester included exercises such as an Ecosystem Map and the Business Model Canvas. Students developed a Theory of Change placing special emphasis on the assumptions they were making about their stakeholders, which were clarified during the fieldwork research which took place in Guatemala over Spring Break.

The second part of the semester included expert interviews and guest visits, to support each project in becoming  as realistic as possible.

We argue that while the design process is often used as the central point of discussion for studios, there are, in fact, other variables such as the weekly structure, the timing of fieldwork, and the explicit scaffolding of learning, which can yield more effective social impact design. The key is getting enough exposure on relevant competencies dealing with social impact design into the 15 week semester.

Urban Abstract Design of Modern Architecture in Bauhaus

Designers must delve beneath the obvious principles of Bauhaus purity and minimalism to comprehend how human memory and sense perception contribute to our experience

Min K. Pak
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
Art & Design
University of Southern Indiana

Photography reflects memory, allows us to ponder our past thinking and past experiences in our environments. At the boundaries between graphic design and photography, we can observe patterns in urban environments and associate these patterns with recalled sounds and human emotions.

In 1923, Lucia Moholy (1894-1989) sought to capture a futuristic vision in Bauhaus architecture. Her photographs balance the clarity, simplicity, and asymmetry that represent Bauhaus’s spirit of utopian zest and vitality and openness of spirit. Indeed, Moholy’s extreme verticals, tilted frames, and abstract forms emphasize the simple, clean, beautiful lines characterizing Bauhaus architecture.

Since each building employs its own architectural language, I identify the words for these urban shapes, for their forms and structures—freeing these buildings from their specific spatial contexts so that we observe them individually, seeing beauty even in marginal details of everyday city life.

Beyond merely documenting discoveries in Moholy’s photographs, I explicate her new ways of seeing this geometric, abstract architecture as a response to reading the world’s simplicity and organic autonomy. I contend that we designers must delve beneath the obvious principles of Bauhaus purity and minimalism to comprehend how human memory and sense perception contribute to our experience with both photography and Bauhaus.

Power in the Dark

Through the elimination of fear, women will be free to wander the darkened streets.

Nina Cooke John
Assistant Professor
Parsons, The New School for Design

We women are especially supposed to be afraid of the night… For a woman to walk on the street at night is not only to risk abuse, but also…to ask for it. The woman who transgresses the boundaries of night is an outlaw who breaks an elementary rule of civilized behavior: a decent woman does not go out…at night….freedom of movement is a precondition for freedom of anything else…

Andrea Dworkin, “The Night and Danger”, 1979 from Letters From a War Zone

Purposeless walking at night in the city is particularly magical, opening up a portal into the present and connection to the urban environment.

How might we, using urban design strategies, create an intervention that will empower women to walk at night?

People in New York City, the city that never sleeps, walk through the streets at night purposefully for many reasons; whether walking home after partying, or after work as a nurse, doctor, store clerk, bartender, streetwalker, or taxi driver. Even they, perhaps, can lose themselves, even briefly, in the otherworldly aura of the city at night.

Through the elimination of fear, women will be free to wander the darkened streets. The power to perform this defiant act will come from other women; connected through this intervention.

Light Tower Intervention

  • Towers develop in response to local neighborhood association signage in.
  • Glowing poles illuminate dark crevices in spaces between buildings.
  • Light in sidewalk marks the locations of the installations while lighting the path.
  • The entire installation is activated only as women with the associated app approach.
  • Crowd sourced messages from women are etched into reflective polished steel surfaces and on video screens that activate as women walk by.
  • Women walking by with the app map their movements which can be shared with others.

Teaching the Truth About Eric Gill in the Age of #MeToo: A Classroom Case Study

I believe we have a responsibility as educators to provide young people with honest information so that they are empowered to make choices that reflect their values.

Dave Gottwald
Assistant Professor
University of Idaho

When I was in graduate school, it was occasionally remarked that widely revered English artist Eric Gill was “a bit odd.” However, it was not until I had to prep a new History of Typography course that I realized this was a euphemism for “monster.” I knew that his eponymous san serif is essentially the Helvetica of the UK—you can find everywhere from British Rail and the BBC to the Church of England and many children’s books. Gill Sans is the face that advises all to KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.

The truth is that Eric Gill molested two of his daughters from their teen years onward. He exposed himself to children and to women who worked for him. He maintained a sexual relationship with his sister for most of his life, and he even had carnal relations with the family dog. We know this from Gill’s own journals, which were brought to light in a definitive biography published in 1989. Yet in the two design history texts assigned for my course, one is completely silent about Gill’s crimes, and the other glosses over it.

I believe we have a responsibility as educators to provide young people with honest information so that they are empowered to make choices that reflect their values. Even though I teach at a rural campus in a conservative area, my students were more prepared to hear and talk about Gill’s crimes than I had anticipated. I will present a case study outlining the material presented, including highlights from our lively discussion about what responsibility one has in using a typeface. I will share the posters they designed about the subject, and quote from their written responses—both about Eric Gill and his typefaces, and their assessment of how I delivered the material.

Story-Doing Concepts

To create a fundamental shift to what a brand or entity’s story can do for the greater good, we have to think of storytelling in terms of actions.

Robin Landa  
Distinguished Professor
Michael Graves College, Kean University

Underpinning any successful brand or nonprofit is a distinctive story. In today’s global economy, to differentiate a brand, social cause, or organization in people’s minds, storytelling is critical. That story involves brand values and strategy—what a brand or entity stands for and communicates. To create a fundamental shift to what a brand or entity’s story can do for the greater good, we have to think of storytelling in terms of actions. Ty Montague and Rosemarie Ryan, creative directors at co: collective, call this proposition StoryDoing.

Rather than conceiving promotional communication design that merely tells the brand story, I teach students to conceive promotional design concepts that involve beneficial actions on the part of the brand or entity. To conceive story-­‐doing concepts, one needs to restructure the idea generation process to embrace social good. Can the communication design solutions contribute to society in terms of beneficial messaging, a business platform (think Bombas or Warby Parker), or charitable works?

Think of how Dove brand advertising changed the conversation about beauty through their Real Beauty campaigns. Dove listened to the negative messaging women were writing on social media and set out to change the conversation. Partnering with NBA star Kevin Durant, Kind Snacks announced their goal was to “launch a new cultural initiative that aims to challenge deeply rooted stereotypes and redefine cultural perceptions of strength and kindness.” Instead of merely promoting Kind Snacks, their communication design goals included changing the conversation about what it means to be strong.

The story-doing proposition can become an organizing principle for conceiving communication design concepts incorporating socially positive actions on the part of a brand. To shift the brand storytelling paradigm to a story-doing one, students must learn how to conceive brand stories with organic beneficial actions. This presentation will center on teaching students to conceive story-doing design projects.

Visualizing Historical Arguments

A Hispanic identity has been part of the United States since long before the massive immigration of the last decades. I explore the process as a form of research over finished forms.

Camila Afanador-Llach
Assistant Professor, Graphic Design
Florida Atlantic University

Visual representations of arguments based on historical events have the potential to shed light on contemporary issues. The graphic formats to structure such representations can include maps, data visualizations, and interactive archives. In this presentation, I show a series of projects where I use the tools of design to explore contemporary questions about the identity of places with a historical perspective. Using datasets and existing archives I seek to make evident the argument that a Hispanic identity has been part of the United States since long before the massive immigration of the last decades. I explore the process as a form of research over finished forms. With each iteration I continue to understand how arguments developed in long narrative texts can be communicated through visual forms.

In my engagement with historical narratives, I pursue more inclusive frameworks and decentralized ways of telling stories. Representing an argument in a visual format is also an act to bridge design practices with the humanities in the hope to establish methodologies for collaborative interdisciplinary endeavors.

The Future of Water

This project examines the critical relationship between storytelling and information, specifically, quantitative insights, within a dynamic virtual setting, of current events in the social sector—our global water crisis.

Jeannie Joshi
Principal/Director
Joshi Design LLC (joshidesign.com)

Mike Edwards
Founder/Lead Technologist
rich | strange (richstrange.com)

“The question of ‘experience’ is frequently debated in design circles, and particularly in educational circles where students have a tendency to mistake software as a way to transform themselves into film directors. The prevailing sentiment seems influenced not only by the stylistic urge to layer but also by the expectation that design must address new and complex audiences in new and complex ways.”

—Jessica Helfand, Essays on Graphic Design, New Media, and Visual Culture.

As interactive technologies become more complex and traditional narrative structures more layered—information and data are themselves becoming a powerful narrative tool.

Driven by our passion for both social impact and mixed reality, this project examines the critical relationship between storytelling and information, specifically, quantitative insights, within a dynamic virtual setting, of current events in the social sector—our global water crisis.

We begin to shape a new territory for human-centric interaction design through the use of mixed reality, striking a balance between craft and execution, context and purpose.

This project, Future of Water, is a proof of concept, of a virtual-reality data experience, that aims to critique the scarcity of information innovation within larger problem areas—in this instance, the global water gap.

Breaking down the quantitative data sets from McKinsey & Company’s economic report “Charting Our Water Future” our work:

  • showcases how VR affordances can adapt and illuminate these quantitative insights within the setting of mixed reality
  • suggests a process of divergent and convergent thinking for a diversity of stakeholders, including educators
  • demonstrates the transformative power of mixed reality storytelling, and
    educates our audience on the challenges that designers will face in creating functional solutions working with edge technologies

 

Tactics & Strategies

This presentation will discuss tactics and strategies for critique within the design school classroom that go beyond the archetypal “group crit,” and into innovative and unexpected ways of engaging students in critical dialog.

Mitch Goldstein
Assistant Professor
School of Design
Rochester Institute of Technology

Educating designers is a complex and layered process — a chaotic mixture of facts and opinions disseminated primarily through critical discourse. This presentation will discuss tactics and strategies for critique within the design school classroom that go beyond the archetypal “group crit,” and into innovative and unexpected ways of engaging students in critical dialog.

The AIGA “Designer of 2025” suggests that students need to learn a number of emerging competencies while attending design school, including working with complexity, understanding accountability for their design decisions, and embracing new forms of sense-making and dialog within their work. In addition to teaching the formal and methodological elements of design, educators need to make sure students have a clear understanding of why and how their design decisions resulted in work that accomplished its goal or missed the mark. This understanding primarily comes from critique.

Educators place a high value on critique, for many of us, it is how we spend the majority of our class time. Traditionally, critique has happened in a large group setting, with all members of the class and the instructor discussing each project one by one and offering feedback as a group. This method has value but is too often about social baggage and performance art, with the same handful of outgoing students doing most of the talking, drowning out students who are quieter or more anxious in large groups. This presentation asks a simple question: what are the most useful, most effective ways to give and receive feedback in the classroom? We have all had students we know are excellent thinkers but never speak in a large group critique — it may be time to move past the traditional models of feedback into other ways of helping students better understand what is happening within their work.

Colloquium 4.4: Parsons Integrated Design

Design Incubation Colloquium 4.4 (#DI2018jun) will be held at Parsons Integrated Design on Thursday, June 14, 2018.

Design Incubation Colloquium 4.4 (#DI2018jun) will be held at Parsons Integrated Design on Thursday, June 14, 2018.

Hosted by Cynthia Lawson and the department of Integrated Design. This event is open to all interested in Communication Design research.

Thursday, June 14th
10:30am–1:30pm
The New School
Theresa Lang Student Center
55 W. 13th St., 2nd floor
New York, NY 11011

 

To attend this event, register here. Abstract submission of presentations deadline April 15, 2017.  For details visit the Colloquia Overview and  Online Submission Form. 

Presentations

The Future of Water

Jeannie Joshi
Principal/Director
Joshi Design LLC (joshidesign.com)

Mike Edwards
Founder/Lead Technologist
rich | strange (richstrange.com)

Teaching the Truth About Eric Gill in the Age of #MeToo: A Classroom Case Study

Dave Gottwald
Assistant Professor
University of Idaho

Tactics & Strategies

Mitch Goldstein
Assistant Professor
School of Design
Rochester Institute of Technology

Story-Doing Concepts

Robin Landa
Distinguished Professor
Michael Graves College, Kean University

Visualizing Historical Arguments

Camila Afanador-Llach
Assistant Professor, Graphic Design
Florida Atlantic University

Power in the Dark

Nina Cooke John
Assistant Professor
Parsons, The New School for Design

Thoughtful Social Impact Through Scaffolded Design Methods and Well-Time Fieldwork

Cynthia Lawson
Associate Professor of Integrated Design
Parsons, The New School

Alik Mikaelian
MFA Transdisciplinary Design Candidate
DEED Lab Research Fellow
Parsons, The New School

Devanshi Sihare
Design Strategist

Megan Willy
MFA Transdisciplinary Design Candidate
Parsons, The New School

PERSONALIZE. COMMUNICATE. SOCIALIZE. LISTEN. PREPARE: Teaching Professional Practices for Designers

Holly Tienken
Assistant Professor
Communication Design
Kutztown University

Urban Abstract Design of Modern Architecture in Bauhaus

Min K. Pak
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
Art & Design
University of Southern Indiana