Semiotics Studio

Course outcomes connect the study of form to the political dimensions of designing, specifically how systems of representation bear on social realities

Design Teaching Award Runner-Up

Aggie Toppins
Associate Professor, Design
Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts
Washington University in St. Louis

Semiotics Studio is a new communication design course in the Sam Fox School at Washington University in St. Louis. Students learn the fundamentals of semiotic theory (the philosophical study of signs and systems of representation) and apply its concepts to studio practice. Students construct pictogrammatic signs for public contexts, shape experimental readings in motion graphics, and create critical interventions through an open design project. Learning outcomes for this class connect the study of form to the political dimensions of designing, specifically how systems of representation bear on social realities. Through exercises, projects, readings, and class discussions, students explore the world of meaning-making including categories of signs, the possibilities of interpretation, and how signs work to normalize cultural practices and perceptions of truth.

There are three studio projects in this course. At the beginning of the semester, projects come with multiple constraints but these gradually loosen so that by the end of the semester, students determine the scope of their own project. The first project is a pictogram assignment in which students learn to systemically construct signs on a formal level while applying basic semiotic concepts from Saussure, Peirce, and Barthes including models of signification, sign modes (icon, index, symbol), and the principles of denotation and connotation. Next is a motion graphics project in which students explore Barthes’ idea of “double articulation,” his twin concepts of anchorage and relay, as well as his critique of authorship. The latter is connected to Michael Rock’s writings on graphic authorship. The third and last project introduces students to poststructuralism including the relationship of signs to theories of power from Foucault, Deleuze & Guattari, and Baudrillard. Students are asked to choose an artifact or system of design, mind-map the semiotic domain that surrounds this artifact or system, and then design a critical intervention through a project of their own choosing.

In addition to these studio projects, students read challenging texts and write five reading responses. The texts are a combination of primary philosophical works, secondary texts, podcasts, and design criticism. Readings are applicable to studio projects and intended to exercise the student’s capacity for critical thinking.

My teaching methods are informed by emancipatory pedagogy, such as those espoused by Paolo Freire and bell hooks. I offer my students learning goals but my assignments do not have preconceived “right” or “wrong” answers. Assignments present students with opportunities to center their experiences and connect their personal interests to the field of communication design. Class time is spent on skill-building workshops, discussions in which students and teachers bring relevant examples (no lecturing to docile listeners), opportunities to workshop research, various forms of critique, and open work sessions.

Although we are in a classroom and we are reading texts and making speculative projects, I teach from the perspective that design has import. Together, we are co-investigating problems in the world (which is to say, many worlds). Semiotics is a theoretical trajectory that begins in Europe and the United States. I contextualize this in the classroom while relating the ideas to design in global contexts. We problematize Western thought by including critical perspectives on colonialism, modernism, and capitalism. My goal is to help students adopt design as a language for critical thinking so that they are equipped not just to take a position in the field, but to potentially transform it.

The Sam Fox School provides students with a robust form-based education. I developed this elective course to address the lack of curricular opportunities for students to engage critical and social theories in design. Additionally, I successfully applied to Wash U’s Gephardt Center to support an embedded librarian, Jenny Akins, to be present in our classroom community. My collaboration with Jenny allowed for the integration of information literacy learning outcomes simultaneously with semiotics and design. Every studio project was informed by a research phase. Having an embedded librarian created a mechanism for supporting students in adopting strong research habits in and out of the classroom.

Students responded well to the course and my teaching evaluations were entirely positive. In the final reviews, one student commented that they appreciated the community we built together and felt they had a lot of room to explore. Another student commented, “I understand what I’m doing now when I make design decisions.” In reflecting on the course, I was pleased with the diversity of responses to project prompts as well as the quality of the students’ work. Considering the challenges of remote learning and the mental and physical toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on our students, I was impressed by and grateful for the high level of energy that my students brought all semester. I look forward to teaching this class in the future and evolving the curriculum over time.

Aggie Toppins is an Associate Professor and Chair of Design at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Before joining the faculty at Wash U, Aggie taught for eight years at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she served for two years as the first female Department Head in Art. Aggie works at the intersections of studio practice and critical writing to explore the ways that visual communication bears on social realities. She is interested in the appraisal of history, the negotiability of meaning-making, and in using these critical orientations to decouple design from universalist narratives of capital. Her recent writing has been published by AIGA Eye on Design, Slanted, and in Briar Levit’s forthcoming book Baseline Shift: Untold Stories of Women in Graphic Design History (Princeton Architectural Press).

Architecture and Design Students Envision the Post-COVID Built Environment

How designers can prepare for the next pandemic by looking at it as a human-centered design initiative

Denise Anderson
Assistant Professor
Michael Graves College, Kean University

Craig Konyk
Associate Professor
Michael Graves College, Kean University

Kylie Mena
Michael Graves College, Kean University

Varrianna Siryon
Michael Graves College, Kean University

Humanity will call upon architects and designers to respond to the resulting modified human behaviors and built environment in the post-COVID-19 world. These areas include the need for flexibility of public spaces and interior layouts, rethinking product designs, and strategies for informational campaigns and digital safety platforms using an integrated design approach.

In spring 2021, a team of interdisciplinary students and faculty at the Michael Graves College were awarded a grant to explore how designers can prepare for the next pandemic by looking at it as a human-centered design initiative. The objective was to utilize the expertise areas of Architecture, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, and Interior Design to research the pandemic’s effects on public spaces and propose design strategies to improve communities. For example, as part of a university-wide initiative on pandemic research, students proposed design solutions for the safe opening of Kean’s childcare center.

In the summer, as the world managed and changed due to the Delta variant and the anti- vaccine movement, further investigations into two areas hit hardest by the pandemic were explored: education and mental health. Extended research was conducted on special needs children and the increased anxiety that led to panic buying.

The presentation will examine the interdisciplinary design thinking process and solutions for the childcare center. It will present methodology soliciting support in undergraduate and graduate courses to identify pandemic-related problems and solutions. Furthermore, it will answer how design and architecture can help envision what communities need to manage and thrive in a post-COVID-19 environment.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 8.2: Annual CAA Conference on Thursday, March 3, 2022.

Design Incubation Colloquium 8.2: Annual CAA Conference 2022 (Virtual)

Presentations and discussion in Research and Scholarship in Communication Design at the 110th Annual CAA Conference 2022

Recent research in Communication Design. Presentations of unique, significant creative work, design education, practice of design, case studies, contemporary practice, new technologies, methods, and design research. A moderated discussion will follow the series of presentations.

The colloquium session is open to all conference attendees.

Thursday, March 3, 2022
 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

CHAIRS
Heather Snyder Quinn
DePaul University

Camila Afanador-Llach
Florida Atlantic University

DISCUSSANT
Jessica Barness
Kent State University

Presentations

Pakistani TVCs: How Local Advertisers are Coding Messages for Young Consumers 
Nida Ijaz
Lecturer
Ph.D. Scholar (Fine Arts) in Research Center for Art & Design, Institute of Design & Visual Arts, Lahore College for Women University, Pakistan

Architecture and Design Students Envision the Post-COVID Built Environment
Denise Anderson
Assistant Professor
Michael Graves College, Kean University

Craig Konyk
Associate Professor
Michael Graves College, Kean University


Kylie Mena
Michael Graves College, Kean University

Varrianna Siryon
Michael Graves College, Kean University

Colored Bodies: Cultural Constructs in Standard Color Theory Pedagogy
Aaron Fine
Professor
Truman State University

Interdisciplinary Human-Centered Design Research – Overcoming Practical Challenges Before and During The Pandemic Time – A Pragmatic Approach to Design Education and Practice
Sam Anvari
Assistant Professor
California State University Long Beach

The Black Experience in Design
Kelly Walters 
Assistant Professor
Parsons, The New School

Anne H. Berry
Assistant Professor
Cleveland State University

A Theory of Design Identity
Colette Gaiter
Professor
Departments of Africana Studies and Art & Design, University of Delaware

Bringing Peace (Circles) to (Design) Practice, Revisited
Dave Pabellon
Assistant Professor
Columbia College Chicago

Academic Marginality and Exclusion for Graphic Design Educators of the United States
Yeohyun Ahn
Assitant Professor
University of Wisconsin-Madison

afFEMation.com

Scholarship: Creative Works Award Runner Up
Jury Commendation for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Scholarship: Creative Works: Expanding the Canon

The afFEMation.com online, interactive, archive addresses the previous invisibility of women in the history of women in Australian graphic design.1 This problem was demonstrated in the low representation of women in the Australian Graphic Design Associations (AGDA) Hall of Fame which had only one-woman inductee prior to the site’s launch. However, since the launch three more women’s biographies have been added, one which cites afFEMation.com.2 The data set demonstrating this was published in the appendix of The View from Here.3

CONTRIBUTION

#afFEMation – demonstrating a framework for gender-equitable histories, is an article outlining a methodological innovation that emerged from an analysis of the site’s build.4 This framework consists of five steps designed to assist researchers, historians and archivists consider gender-equitable histories. The steps include systemized privilege checking and the prioritizing of recent histories.

AIM

Filling the gendered gaps in Australia’s graphic design history and increasing the visibility of women was the aim of afFEMation.com. Right through the UK, US and Australia women are graduating from graphic design qualifications in a high majority.[5] afFEMation.com was designed to make this new knowledge available as accessible and sharable portraits, biographies, galleries of work, videoed interviews and visualised networks.

SIGNIFICANCE

The significant and interactive design of afFEMation.com was reviewed by HOW Magazine as one of the ‘10 Best Design Websites’.6 The site was also launched at the Women in Design symposium and reviewed on-line as “thought-provoking”.7 Design industry blogs also published articles demonstrating the interest in equitable design histories, citing afFEMation.com.8

References
  1. afFEMation.com was a collaborative project which profiled Michaela Webb, Annette Harcus, Lynda Warner, Rita Siow, Lisa Grocott, Abra Remphrey, Dianna Wells, Sandy Cull, Sue Allnutt, Fiona Sweet, Gemma O’Brien, Jenny Grigg, Jessie Stanley, Kat Macleod, Simone Elder, Chloe Quigley, Kate Owen, Laura Cornhill, Rosanna Di Risio, Suzy Tuxen, Zoe Pollitt, Natasha Hasemer, Fiona Leeming and Maree Coote. Research, writing, art direction, and design was by Jane Connory, photography, sound, and image recording by Deborah Jane Carruthers and Carmen Holder, assistance from William Aung, and website development by Danni Liu. Jane Connory (2017) “#afFEMation. Making heroes of women in Australian graphic design”, http://affemation.com (website accessed April 9, 2020). See more in Figures 1-12 in Documentation of the work itself. For evidence of the public launch at the Women in Design conference in Design Tasmania, 2017, see Document1_WomenInDesign.pdf in Other Uploaded Documents.
  2. The AGDA Hall of Fame began in 1992 and was published in the AGDA award compendiums before being compiled on their current website. afFEMation.com is cited in Graham Rendoth (2018) “Annette Harcus”, https://www.agda.com.au/hall-of-fame/annette-harcus (accessed April 9, 2020). See more in Figure 13 in Evidence of Publication and Significance.
  3. Jane Connory (2019) The view from here: Exploring the causes of invisibility for women in Australian graphic design and advocating for their equity and autonomy, Thesis, Monash University, pp. 176. https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/237518812?q=Jane+Connory+the+view+from+here&c=book&versionId=265087902 (accessed April 9, 2020).
  4. Jane Connory (2017) “#afFEMation – demonstrating a framework for gender-equitable histories.” Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN), Conference, Prato, Italy, October, pp 41-47. https://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/1397018/prato_proceedings_2017_final_edited1July2018.pdf (accessed April 9, 2020). Also see Document2_CIRNConference.pdf in Other Uploaded Documents.
  5. Jane Connory (2017) “Plotting a Historical Pipeline of Women and Design Education.” Design History Australian Research Network (DHARN) http://dharn.org.au/plotting-the-historical-pipeline-of-women-in-graphic-design/ (accessed April 9, 2020). Also see Document3_PlottingThePipeline.pdf in Other Uploaded Documents.
  6. https://www.howdesign.com/web-design-resources-technology/website-and-responsive-design/top-10-sites-for-designers-october-2017-edition/ (attempted accessed April 9, 2020). Unfortunately, this online magazine has since gone into receivership and this link is no longer live.
  7. Penny Craswell (2017) Women in Design at Design Tasmania, The Design Writer, July 3. https://thedesignwriter.com.au/women-design-design-tasmania/ (accessed April 9, 2020). See more in Figure 14.; Anita Pava (2017) Colloquium includes Graphic Design, Stream, July 31. https://www.streamdesign.com.au/graphic-design-tasmania-colloquium-includes-graphic-designer-speaker/ (accessed April 9, 2020). See more in Figure 15.
  8. Mirella Marie (2018) afFEMation.com, Women of Graphic Design https://womenofgraphicdesign.org/post/165087420998/jane-connory-melbourne-australia (accessed April 9, 2020). See more in Figure 16.; Jane Connory (2018) Invisible women in Australian graphic design, Eye Magazine, July 4,

http://www.eyemagazine.com/blog/post/invisible-women-in-australian-graphic-design (accessed April 9, 2020), (Figure 17); Jane Connory (2019) The Invisible Women of Australian Graphic Design, Parlour, October 17, https://archiparlour.org/the-invisible-women-of-australian-graphic-design/ (accessed April 9, 2020) See more in Figure 18.; Jane Connory (2020) Change, Word—Form, https://word-form.com/words/index/view/category/change/article/dr-jane-connory (accessed April 9, 2020). See more in Figure 19.

Dr Jane Connory has a PhD from Monash University, Art, Design, and Architecture, which worked towards a gender-inclusive history of Australian graphic design. She was awarded a Master of Communication Design (Design Management) with Distinction from RMIT and has been a practising designer in the advertising, branding, and publishing sectors, in both London and Melbourne, since 1997. She has also lectured in and convened communication design programs in both the VET and Higher Education sectors since 2005. Alongside her research exploring the visibility of women in design, she is currently a lecturer in Design Futures and Design Strategy at Swinburne University of Technology.

Thank you to all the women profiled on the website including: Michaela Webb, Annette Harcus, Lynda Warner, Rita Siow, Lisa Grocott, Abra Remphrey, Dianna Wells, Sandy Cull, Sue Allnutt, Fiona Sweet, Gemma O’Brien, Jenny Grigg, Jessie Stanley, Kat Macleod, Simone Elder, Chloe Quigley, Kate Owen, Laura Cornhill, Rosanna Di Risio, Suzy Tuxen, Zoe Pollitt, Natasha Hasemer, Fiona Leeming and Maree Coote.

Photography, sound & image recording: Deborah Jane Carruthers & Carmen Holder, assistance from William Aung.

Website development: Danni Liu & ClickTap Digital Media.

Research supervision: Pamela Salen & Gene Bawden.

Research assistants: Rachael Vaughan, Luke Robinson, Kristy Gay & Nick Fox.

Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2020 recipient

A Design Conversation of the Interaction Between Iranian and American Visual Culture

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.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.1: Oakland University, MI on October 17, 2020.

Breaking Down Biases with Toys: An Interdisciplinary Design Project

Courses from three different schools collaborated on the project: Applied Infancy Development, Machine Design, and Graphic Design 3.

Nancy Wynn
Associate Professor
Merrimack College

Nicholas Paolino
Undergraduate Design Researcher
Merrimack College

Much child development research is biased towards privileged, white, mid-socioeconomic cultures. For example, data suggests mothers should use child-directed speech to promote language development (Rowe, 2008). Yet, recent evidence shows this type of talk is not promoted universally (Rowe, 2012). As a result, educational and clinical practices​, as well as policies​, ​may not address the needs of non-white, under-privileged populations. During the spring semester of 2019, three Merrimack College professors created an interdisciplinary project to promote positive development in infants/toddlers. The project’s goal was the development of a toy prototype that addressed specific developmental domains and considered various populations.

Courses from three different schools collaborated on the project: Applied Infancy Development, Machine Design, and Graphic Design 3. Students enrolled in discipline-specific courses were divided into eight groups, each consisting of one Graphic Design student and multiple students from Education and Mechanical Engineering. The modes for assessment were completion of the toys, marketing materials, and the development of collaboration skills.

Education students were the researchers and “clients.” Engineering students created the toy prototypes. Graphic design students designed marketing materials including branding, packaging and advertising. Throughout the semester, students met in large group meetings, virtual group meetings, made oral presentations, and publicly demonstrated their final designs. The pedagogical plan was to adopt a peer model whereby students could teach their peers what they learned in their respective disciplines and work together to synthesize their ideas.

Despite some challenges, the teams completed their prototypes and branding with much success. Afterwards, project assessment included: What changes should be implemented? Were the virtual meetings beneficial? Who might gain from inclusion—business students and marketing faculty? Additional funding?

The project captured the professional world of toy design quite well, and the faculty members are planning for round two in 2022.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.3: Fordham University on May 16, 2020.

Supporting the Chicago Design Community | Design Incubation Affiliated Society Meeting @CAA

Identifying strategies, filling gaps in organizational offerings, andcollaboratively expand reach of local organizations.

 Friday, February 14, 2020
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Hilton Chicago – Lower Level – Salon C-1

Design Incubation will host the College Art Association (CAA) conference business meeting for “Supporting the Chicago Design Community | Design Incubation Affiliated” at the Hilton Chicago on Friday, February 14th from 12:30–1:30 pm. There is no cost to attend this meeting.

Leaders from midwest design organizations including The Society of Typographic Arts, IxDA, AIGA, The New Media Caucus, Chicago Speculative Futures, The Society of Typographic Aficionados, Hexagon, The Chicago Design Archive, SEGD, and others will discuss industry, academic, and educational needs in the region. We hope this conversation will identify strategies for filling gaps in our organizational offerings, find opportunities for Design Incubation to support these long-standing groups, and collaboratively expand all of our reach.

Design Incubation is a volunteer academic organization whose focus and mission is the facilitation of research and scholarship in communication design. Our aim is to foster discussion and collaboration among academics and industry professionals. We are a resource for those working and studying within the field.

Chicago Design Milestones

An installation showcasing the evolution of design from 1920s to the present.

Sharon Oiga
Associate Professor
University of Illinois at Chicago

Guy Villa Jr.
Assistant Professor
Columbia College

Daria Tsoupikova
Associate Professor
UIC School of Design

Chicago Design Milestones is a media installation that brings to life the evolution of Chicago design by examining and showcasing the historic characteristics of design works from the 1920s to the present. Project material was researched and culled from the robust collection of the Chicago Design Archive (CDA), which holds over 3,200 works from over 1,100 designers and 400 firms. The CDA, the UIC School of Design & Electronic Visualization Laboratory, and Columbia College Chicago collaborated together on this project, as their underlying and ongoing quest is to spotlight the role of Chicago as a major national design center through the use of innovative technologies.

A significant challenge was figuring out how to represent the thousands of archived works from the past 100 years. This was done by scouring every single image, over countless hours, and selecting representative works for each decade.

Another challenge was figuring out how to best employ the distinctive installation structure of 150 Media Stream, comprised of 89 LED vertical blades that reach 22 feet high and span 150 feet wide — a vertical pattern combined with massive horizontality, which are opposing but interesting dynamics. These are constructs the team made sure to utilize, by ensuring that particular images animate to traverse the unique terrain.

Chicago design history is not commonly brought to the attention of the general public. The project offers it outside of the confines and prompting of a book, classroom or school, and it is instead framed in the context of an immersive technological experience.

The aim is to engage onlookers and inspire them with the city’s creative history. Hopefully, viewers delight and marvel in what they see. Perhaps they will feel a sense of nostalgia, a feeling of pride for the city, or gain a stronger appreciation for Chicago history and creativity.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2: CAA 2020 Conference Chicago on February 14, 2020.

Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2: CAA 2020 Conference Chicago

Presentations and discussion in Research and Scholarship in Communication Design at the 108th Annual CAA Conference 2020 in Chicago.

Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2: CAA 2020 Chicago
Friday, February 14, 2020

Two colloquia will be presented at the 108th Annual CAA Conference, hosted by CAA Affiliated Society, Design Incubation.

Research in Communication Design. Presentation of unique, significant creative work, design education, practice of design, case studies, contemporary practice, new technologies, methods, and design research. A moderated discussion will follow the series of presentations.

The colloquium session is open to all conference attendees.

Design Intervention and Engagement: Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2

There is a presumed canon of visual communication design, one that includes its history, theory, practice, and even the interpretation of its global impact. While it is convenient to take this canon at face value, there are alternative lenses through which we can view the field. In order to continue advancing the discipline in equitable ways, to be inclusive and engage with a variety of practitioners and users, it is important to consider a multitude of alternative viewpoints. Interventions in our attitudes happen in many ways—from envisioning how design alters the world, to methods we use to interpret design in new contexts. This panel will explore such critical interventions, uncovering new ways to re-engage with design education, design practice, and design communities.

Friday, February 14, 2020
8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
Hilton Chicago – Lower Level – Salon C-1

Co-Chairs

Heather Quinn
Assistant Professor
DePaul University

Nathan Matteson
Assistant Professor
DePaul University

PRESENTATIONS

Four Counter-Narratives for Graphic Design History
Augusta Rose Toppins
Associate Professor
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Women’s Vote 2020: A Case Study in Civic Design
Kelly Salchow MacArthur
Associate Professor
Michigan State University

Lost on the Trail: Investigating Hiking Wayfinding and Trail Navigation within the National Parks
Sara Mitschke
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Texas State University

Strategy + Creative: Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration
Kathy Mueller
Assistant Professor
Temple University

Jennifer Freeman
Assistant Professor of Instruction
Temple University

Hierarchical Space: How the Use of Space Creates Bias
Katherine Krcmarik
Assistant Professor
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Technological Frontiers: Design Incubation Colloquium 6.2

Recent advances in technology and improvements of accessibility allow designers to deliver meaningful experiences to broad populations of ages, cultures, abilities, etc.—those who have previously been isolated from the discourse. These rapid changes in technology have also changed the landscape of design practice (for both better and worse) creating the conditions for more collaborative and multi-disciplinary teams who leverage these new or improved tools. This panel will address research projects working at the edge of contemporary technology, across disciplines, and within emerging disciplines. They leverage technological innovation to address issues of representation and access.

Friday, February 14, 2020
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Hilton Chicago – Lower Level – Salon C-1

Co-Chairs

Alex Girard
Assistant Professor
Southern Connecticut State University

Dan Wong
Associate Professor
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

PRESENTATIONS

The Fusion of Art, Science and Technology
Min Kyong Pak
Assistant Professor
University of Southern Indiana

Chicago Design Milestones
Sharon Oiga
Associate Professor
University of Illinois at Chicago

Guy Villa Jr.
Assistant Professor
Columbia College

Daria Tsoupikova
Associate Professor
University of Illinois at Chicago

Interactive Game Design: Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves
Leigh Hughes
Assistant Professor
Coastal Carolina University

Design Delight: A Framework For The Analysis And Generation Of Pleasurable Designs
Omar Sosa-Tzec
Assistant Professor
University of Michigan

Critical Visual Analysis of Graphic Expressions of Emotions Over Time
Ann McDonald
Associate Professor
Northeastern University

A Peace of Mind: Design Research for Pervasive Healthcare
Hyuna Park
Assistant Professor
University of Kansas

Designing for the Visually Impaired
Min Choi
Adjunct Professor
San Diego State University
San Diego City College

Chicago Design Milestones

Scholarship: Creative Work Award Winner

Design Educators Team

Sharon Oiga, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Guy Villa Jr, Assistant Professor, Columbia College Chicago and
Daria Tsoupikova, Associate Professor University of Illinois at Chicago

Other Chicago Design Milestones team members: Jack Weiss, Chicago Design Archive; Cheri Gearhart, Chicago Design Archive; Wayne Stuetzer, Chicago Design Archive; Krystofer Kim, Lead Animator, NASA; Ali Khan, Animator, University of Illinois at Chicago

Chicago Design Milestones is a new media public installation that took place throughout July, 2019, at 150 Media Stream in Chicago. It brought to life the evolution of Chicago design by examining and showcasing the historic characteristics of design works from the 1920s to the present. Project material was researched and culled directly from the vast collection of the Chicago Design Archive (CDA), which holds over 3,200 works from over 1,100 designers and 400 firms. Members of the CDA, the UIC School of Design & Electronic Visualization Laboratory, and Columbia College Chicago collaborated together on this project as a team, as their underlying and ongoing quest is to spotlight the role of Chicago as a major national design center through the use of innovative technologies, including 150 Media Stream’s unique display structure, the largest media screen (3,000+ square feet) in Chicago.

The team consists of design educators, animators, and members of the CDA. It is worthy to note that the Milestones project was initiated by the design educators of the team. With knowledge of the holdings of the CDA, it was the design educators that conceived of the opportunity to collaborate, to develop initial concepts, and to lead the project. It is their belief and practice to author and generate projects of personal interest in order to help advance the field of design with designers’ own concerns.

The Chicago Design Archive is a singular organization in that there is no other like it doing this type of documentation and presentation of Chicago design work—locating, procuring, organizing, and showcasing Chicago-related design in the form of images as well as articles, essays, interviews, and videos. This includes works from the pre-digital era, with the population of works beginning in the 1920s. This is over 100 hundred years of Chicago design work gathered up and organized in one place.

A significant challenge of the Milestones project was to figure out how to represent the thousands of archived works from the past 10 decades. The process of curating the works was scientific in that observation was key—untold hours of patient looking. Year by year, decade by decade, each image was scoured until 100 years of images passed in front of the eyes of the team. There wasn’t an agenda when the team first started looking, no plan of what to find, no expectations. The team wanted the images to speak to them, to tell them what was significant—and they did. In each decade, the images showed what colors they liked, what shapes they preferred, and very interestingly, what stories they held. Some of the images spoke more than others. They were the ones that were singled out as possibilities. From this pool, images were selected based on their potential for animation and their inherent magnetism to engage, inform, and spark the curiosity of any passerby.

Another challenge was to figure out how to best employ the distinctive installation structure of 150 Media Stream, which comprises of 89 LED vertical blades that reach varying heights up to 22 feet high and span 150 feet wide. This configuration forms a vertical pattern that is combined with extreme horizontality—interesting but opposing dynamics built into the structure. These are constructs the team intentionally utilized, by ensuring that particular images animate to traverse the unusual terrain.

The Milestones project is out of the ordinary in that Chicago design history is rarely brought to the attention of the general public. Bringing awareness to historically-relevant creative work was central to the project’s intent and importance. The project afforded design history outside of the confines and prompting of a book, classroom or school, and it was instead framed in the context and excitement of an immersive technological experience. The completion and success of this experiential design project has lead to ideas and invitations for further work at other public venues for new media at the international scale.

In advance of the debut of Chicago Design Milestones at 150 Media Stream, a preview gala and exhibition was held at Archeworks—a Chicago-based design lab and media outlet dedicated to using design as an agent of change in the public interest. The preview exhibition (lead by Lauren Meranda of CDA) featured the static images of the works selected for animation in Chicago Design Milestones.

For the opening of Chicago Design Milestones, a catalog was produced. It contained images of all of the design works included in the project as well as related examples of work from the Archive. It was an opportunity to not only celebrate the works selected for the project but to also highlight additional CDA holdings. The catalog further documented the team’s research by including the lists of descriptive terms that were generated and used to characterize the design and themes for each of the decades. Considered to be a valuable component of the project, the Chicago History Museum is presently acquiring the catalog for their collection.

In the end, the team hoped to engage onlookers and inspire them with the city’s creative history. Perhaps viewers delighted and marveled in what they saw. Perhaps they felt a sense of nostalgia, a feeling of pride for the city, or gained a stronger appreciation for Chicago history and design. Additionally, by example, the team hoped to have widened the conceptual space for designers, to explore, research and play.

Other Chicago Design Milestones team members: 

Chicago Design Archive: chicagodesignarchive.org

Sharon Oiga University of Illinois at Chicago

Holding an MFA in Graphic Design from Yale University and BFA degrees in Graphic Design and Photography from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Sharon Oiga’s work investigates the process of design — the ways in which ideas are expressed and disseminated, ranging from the micro level of experimental typographic form to the macro level of self-authoring and publishing. At UIC, she is an Associate Professor and Chair of Graphic Design. Previously, Sharon partnered with design firms where she specialized in identity, branding, publication design, and packaging. Her work is consistently recognized through awards, publications, exhibitions, and funding. A two-time recipient of the Sappi Ideas That Matter grant, Sharon was also honored to receive the UIC Silver Circle Teaching Award. She has written about her teaching in UCDA’s Designer Magazine.

Sharon serves as Chair of the Society of Typographic Aficionados, and she is a Director of the Chicago Design Archive.

Guy Villa Jr Columbia College Chicago

Holding a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Guy Villa Jr

is an Assistant Professor at Columbia College Chicago. His research interests include procedural image-making and photography, and experimental design processes. He has professional experience in editorial and identity design for not-for-profit organizations, start-ups, and other businesses. In recognition for his work, he was named a Platinum Winner by Graphis, for which he was interviewed and featured in the Graphis Letterhead 7 book. He was also interviewed by Print magazine, and his work was published in the annual. Aside from teaching, Guy speaks regularly at regional, national and international confer- ences and events. He is also Chair of the STA Design Inspiration Weekend, an annual forum for designers held by The Society of Typographic Arts. Recently, he was a juror for the international TypeCon Typography Award and a proposal reviewer for the TypeCon Education Forum.

Daria Tsoupikova University of Illinois at Chicago

Holding an MFA in Computer Graphics from Syracuse University, Daria Tsoupikova is an Associate Professor of New Media Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Positioned at the crossroads of artistic and technological innovation, her research and artwork explores the potential of new media and inter- activity in relation to traditional arts. Through the development of virtual reality (VR) art projects and networked multi-user exhibitions for VR projection systems, her work applies computer graphics art to various research domains, including educational multimedia, cultural heritage and virtual rehabilitation for stroke survivors. Daria’s work has been exhibited and published by ACM SIGGRAPH, IEEE VR, ISEA, among many others. Past projects have received funding from NSF, National Institute on Disability and Rehabili- tation Research and the Department of Education. A former Fulbright Scholar, Daria is currently partnering with the Hand Rehabilitation Laboratory to develop a multi-user virtual environment to aid in hand rehabilitation.

Recipient of recognition in the Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2019.