Students apply for a specific role that was provided with a list of job responsibilities
Abby Guido Assistant Professor Tyler School of Art and Architecture
While the design industry has shifted from the individual designer creating work in a silo to a more collaborative approach, relying on both diversity of thought and expertise, design education is falling behind, where the focus is often on the individual and the iterative process of incorporating feedback, design students are missing a key component to becoming a successful designer today: learning how to be strong team members, how to generate diverse ideas, how to be thoughtful leaders, among other soft skills. As the design industry continues to embrace collaboration, design educators should explore how to better expose students to group design work in their curriculum.
In the past, I have assigned group projects that allowed the students to select their roles and responsibilities with their teammates. While this has sometimes worked, more often it did not and I found myself spending most of my time helping the team push through personal issues, rather than focusing on the work itself. In response, I changed my approach in a course during the spring of 2020 called, “Event Design.” I had my students apply for a specific role that was provided with a list of job responsibilities, on a specific project team for a given event we would be designing for. This approach was much more successful, the students embraced their roles, created beautiful work, and were able to seamlessly pivot when our project and course had to majorly adjust due to the coronavirus and the cancelation of the in-person events we were designing for.
The students in this course shared that their experience collaborating allowed them to learn new skills they had not considered needing to know. I witnessed a huge change in all of the students, and an opportunity to help better prepare our students for their careers.
A body of design work, large scale prints, and hand constructed plaster objects
Jimmy Henderson Graphic Designer Jimmy Henderson | Design & Illustration
The past century, particularly the past 20 years, have seen unprecedented growth, change and development in our society, which has led to polarization, division and uncertainty. Communication designers have sought to make sense of the world and clarify this uncertainty—particularly through the use of a variety of narrative methods to illuminate issues, encourage dialogue and inspire change.
One of these projects—The Children of Loki—is a body of design work, presented as large scale prints and hand constructed plaster beer cans that act as modern-day runestones—that uses the framework of historical Norse mythology, paired with digital collage rooted in street art, vintage illustration and vibrant color themes—to create a provocative visual tale that presents information on current political and societal events and bridges the gap between disparate audiences through statistical facts and rich observational storytelling.
During the author’s extensive research of the Prose Edda—a 13th century written record of Norse mythology written by Icelandic scholar and lawmaker Snorri Sturluson—as well as modern rewritten accounts, they noticed a correlation between the myths and the social structure of the United States post World War 2 to the present. These myths serve as familiar metaphors that illuminate a range of events—from the economic boom of 1950’s America, to the rising cost of education, the growth of wealth disparity, the threat of climate change, and the conflict between multiple generations.
While mythology and other literary references have been used across design for years, notably in brands like Nike, Maserati and Versace, The Children of Loki expands further upon the use of mythology in design by pushing a contemporary narrative—the omniscient myth serves as an oracle of what’s to come and is made more real with relatable visuals and tangible objects from everyday life. This creates a rich provocation for dialogue by which to discuss and shine a new light on contemporary events and increases the audience’s ability to understand complex information by blending vibrant visuals and immersive storytelling.
Insight into the process of design innovation, influence, and interpretation
Anita Giraldo Associate Professor New York City College of Technology, CUNY
Patricia Childers Adjunct Professor New York City College of Technology, CUNY
In teaching first-year students, we find that most have definite “style” preferences. However, many have little idea about the nuances that resonate with them. While still in its development phase, research has begun into a design textbook to teach various design principles by scaffolding skills and design history to complete a series of one-semester projects. This book aims to bridge the gap between creation and context so that students can make informed design decisions.
Integral to this project is the awareness of the often-overlooked influences and lack of diversity in the cannon of graphic design. Students’ research interests will not be limited. Instead, students are encouraged to contribute to design history by introducing objects or designers that are not part of the cannon. The range of student contributions will create an overview of a specific time and place.
The projects include the development of a graphic image, a hand-drawn typographic project, and a three-dimensional or time-based media project. It culminates in the design of a tribute poster to a significant graphic or industrial designer.
The book covers many aspects and principles of graphic design. However, this is a book for a freshmen design course. The outcome is to open the door to how visual elements influence the viewer and solve problems and laying the foundation for true design thinking. With insight into the process of design innovation, influence, and interpretation, student will be better prepared to advance their design study with a better understanding of the layered process of design.
How sustainable thinking can become the foundation for framing and solving a design problem
Maria Smith Bohannon Assistant Professor Oakland University, MI
Today our world faces complex problems, just a few of which include climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, pollution, poverty, water quality, and issues of inequality and food scarcity. The data and the facts are irrefutable and cannot be ignored, but how can designers become the architects of change?
Graphic design education needs to include sustainable design thinking at the forefront of the process, enabling graphic designers to think about and solve for greater impact within their communities.
This presentation focuses on how sustainable thinking can become the foundation for framing and solving a design problem by going beyond development of a logo and identity system to thinking more broadly at the start. Sustainable thinking will be implemented at the beginning of the design process with a goal that it can become routine and foundational for all design process.
Developing a creative brief that includes factoring the impact on people, planet, prosperity and culture will yield a more sustainable design solution—one that clarifies the project goal and fosters creative solutions with a plan for execution. This process will provide steps for identifying, researching and understanding complex problems within local communities, and framing solutions that are more sustainable from research, to the designs of visuals and artifacts.
Design students empower residents to apply for Property Tax Exemption (PTE)
Chad Reichert Professor College for Creative Studies, MI
Foreclosure is a historic and abundant problem in the city of Detroit. Neighbor to Neighbor is a community-led tax foreclosure prevention effort that provides opportunities and resources for people to stay in their homes. A group of 8 BFA students from the College for Creative Studies Communication Design department led by Professor Chad Reichert collaborated with Quicken Loans Community Fund (QLCF) to empower residents to apply for Property Tax Exemption (PTE). The results of this 15-week collaboration helped raise awareness and built a greater sense of trust within the Detroit community.
The presentation will address the obstacles residents faced in the application process, the human costs of tax foreclosure and how the students adapted to work alongside residents to build an inclusive and empathetic approach. Additionally, the discussion will revolve around three project steps: ethnographic research, persona development and design execution. These steps addressed the question: what happens when design students observe, listen and learn from people whose voices are left out of the decision-making process. Further, the presentation will explore how design education can evolve and continue to develop more meaningful civic/social experiences and interactions.
Contemporary type design history of emulating hand manipulation of a brush.
Ryan Molloy Professor Eastern Michigan University
Single-line fonts—also known as engraving fonts, pen plotter fonts, and stick fonts—have a long history ranging from architectural hand drafting to use on pen plotters and engraving devices. As applications of digital fabrication—cnc milling, 3D printing, laser engraving, pen plotters, and craft cutters—have become more commonplace the demand for single line fonts has increased. Majority of the fonts produced and used today are outline fonts, enclosed and filled vector graphic forms. In contrast, a single-line font is composed solely of single vector lines (not enclosed). In applications of digital fabrication the use of single-fonts significantly reduces production time because machine paths are not duplicated.
Contemporary type design has long had a history of emulating the contrasting strokes created through hand manipulation of a brush. The increased demand from maker communities for single-line fonts has led to the development and commercialization of new single-line fonts or tools to convert outline fonts into single-line fonts. However, despite the traditions of type design and the movements of the machine allowing the potential to mimic traditional form of lettering most single-line fonts are designed only for a constant stroke weight. This presentation will showcase a number of personal typographic experiments and typefaces created in an attempt to find novel solutions and applications to the design of single-line fonts. From pen plotters, to engraving, to the creation of letterpress wood type, and drawing inspiration from calligraphy to graffiti the work seeks to ask how can we further reinsert the hand into digital writing.
Students explore design methods and criteria through which the meaning of the typographic message and form may be altered.
Danilo Bojic Assistant Professor Winona State University
With global warming and climate changes, environmental topics—including awareness, conservation, and outreach—became relevant topics in several humanistic disciplines, including design. The collaborative effort, though interdisciplinary approach, needs to be made to provide students with solid educational opportunities during their design studies beyond the traditional curriculum.
As part of the Advanced Typography in Visual Communication course at Winona State University, students engage with community members around current environmental topics involving Lake Winona, Winona, MN. Through the project, students further develop compositional skills and methods of visual organization using abstraction. Students consider and develop an awareness of subtleties and detail of the letterforms and the effect of formal alteration on a neutral, without bias or obvious meaning, letterform. Through semantics and syntax, students explore design methods and criteria through which the meaning of the typographic message and form may be altered. At first, students raise questions regarding conservation and local/regional impact, followed by investigating a series of topics concentrating on types of pollution and visualizing them through experimental typographic methods. Finally, they develop creative responses raising awareness and informing the local community through project work.
Findings presented give a better look at the overall health of Lake Winona, including water clarity; blue-green algae and toxin levels; nutrients, plants, and algae relationship levels. Visual responses range from experimental typographic, mark-making, and mix media representations of different types of pollution to infographics providing guidance for better daily practices in gardening and waste management. Students’ call to action could result in fertilizing reduction by the local community, fostering expansion of naturally occurring native plants to filter water nutrients and lowering yard waste entering and affecting the lake and the local ecosystem.
The documented experience provides fertile ground for future iterations of this class as a method of following positive/negative environmental development in this local community and creating a platform to raise awareness and call to action.
A comparison between two cultural identities through distinct cultural elements creating a visual language that is cross-cultural.
Setareh Ghoreishi Assistant Professor Oakland University
Defining culture includes the mention of customs, beliefs, values, etiquette, and behaviors as well as the artifacts and objects of a given society. Craftsmanship of artistic elements including rugs, table cloths, and pottery is a major part of any culture and is dependent on motifs and patterns and forms that have their roots in ancient art and civilization. Therefore, different cultures around the world have different historical elements that enable one culture to be visually distinguished from another. As an Iranian woman, I saw how my Middle Eastern culture is different from the Western culture of the United States. Since I have come to the United States, I visualized a comparison between these two cultural identities through distinct cultural elements to create a visual language that is cross-cultural. I utilized design tools and found visual elements in the different consumer systems, food habits, folks’ idioms, language, behavior, and etiquette in both cultures. In multiple areas, such as motion graphic, packaging, and logo design, video art, and image-making, I collected Persian motifs, traditional architecture, and language interaction to convey messages and translate my personal cultural differences. I am showing the role of graphic design and art in this cultural juxtaposition through different ways such as subvertisment, typography, motion typography, digital imaging, and video art.
I intend to use different techniques in exploring multiple areas of personal cultural value and utilize it as a tool to convey concepts. Furthermore, throughout the series of the works, I ask the viewer to be familiar with different aspects of Iranian culture. The visual elements I have executed represent the ancient traditions in contrast to contemporary and modern life, which can be shown as symbols of two different lifestyles.
Oakland University Department of Art and Art History 310 Wilson Hall Rochester, MI 48309
Design Incubation Colloquium 7.1 (#DI2020oct) will be held at the Department of Art and Art History at Oakland University on Saturday, October 17, 2020, 10:30am-4:30pm. Hosted by Maria Smith Bohannon. This event is open to all interested in Communication Design research.
We invite designers—practitioners and educators—to submit abstracts of design research. We recommend reviewing our white paper on best practices for writing an academic research abstract.