Readymade Design: A Critical Response to Discourse and Convention
This thesis responds to institutional limits on graphic design by exploring the parameters of convention and expectation. Graphic design exists within a culture of conventions: It recycles knowledge, affirms pre-determined processes, and conforms to de facto rules. This thesis brings these practices to the surface and problematizes their latent pervasiveness. This thesis attempts to make visible and tangible the institutional conventions which are guided by social, political and legal mores of graphic design practice. The significance of the exploratory work of this thesis is dependent on an understanding of current graphic design discourse. The work functions as a "ready-made" that acts as a conceptual snapshot of conventional practice.
Do You See What I'm Saying?: Investigating the Arbitrariness of Letterforms through Typeface Design
David Cabianca, Supervisor
Modern linguistic theory suggests that letterforms are arbitrary and that the relationship between the signifier and the signified has no discernible pattern. This thesis investigates the arbitrary relationship between spoken sounds and graphemes and extends that relationship to letterform design. While graphic design rarely intersects with the field of linguistics, a culturally pivotal relationship with great potential for investigation exists between the two. In this thesis, graphic design is used as a medium to explore the arbitrary nature of written signs and draws attention to this importance in visual communication.
A theoretical and historical investigation informs the production of visual artifacts: a book specimen relating speech to written form, as well as a typeface that investigates the arbitrary design of letterforms while also demonstrating existing multiple connotative implications within letterforms. This thesis demonstrates that similar to letterforms having multiple speech sound associations, a typeface can have multiple connotative associations.
"What Goes Around, Doesn't Come Back Round": A Look into the Disruptive Influence of Basel School of Design and Cranbrook Academy of Art
This thesis examines the contributions of the Basel School of Design and Cranbrook Academy of Art by outlining their respective philosophies and pedagogical approaches. These two schools helped educate and train a number of the most prominent graphic designers of the twentieth century. Following a brief historical examination of the Bauhaus' influence on design education, the early teachings of Emil Ruder and Armin Hofmann at the Basel School of Design are discussed within the context of their influence on post-modern graphic designer Wolfgang Weingart. This paper also examines the concurrent shift in graphic design that was happening in the United States at Cranbrook Academy of Art under the tutelage of Swiss-trained designer Katherine McCoy, and prominent Cranbrook alumni responsible for redefining graphic design as both a professional practice and academicdiscipline.
Remembring the Starry Night (SkyAct): Using Smartphones and Social Networking to Raise Community Awareness to Light Pollution
Michael Longford, Supervisor
Although design has traditionally been understood by society as studies of visual form, the process of design can be utilizd to resolve larger socially oriented issues. This research explores the way in which design can be an active mediator in organizing various stakeholders in the orchestration of innovative directions to support sustainable ways of living. At the center of the project is the develoment of SkyAct, a web-based smartphone application with the foremost goal of raising users' awareness to the issue of light pollution. By pairing smartphone technology with social networking platforms, SkyAct provided a user-oriented sustainable system, which aims to encourage the public, individually and collectively to take action to reduce light pollution.
Furthermore, this research highlights the contemporary role of designers working in an interdisciplinary manner, engaging direct involvement of diverse stakeholders seeking alternative solutions tha faciliate sustainable ways of luving.
Making and Thinking: Between the Boundaries of Craft and Design
Paul Sych, Supervisor
Recent changes in the interrelated disciplines of craft and graphic design have led to an espousal of interdisciplinary approaches. As such, this design thesis explores the possilibty of a post-disciplinary practice that situates itself between the boundaries of graphic design and craft practice. This thesis begins with an investigation into relationships between craft and graphic design, through a weaving of cultural theory and personal material explorations. Art, craft and design are approached from the academic position of cultural studies, revealing how meanings in visual culture are created, constructed and upheld. Following that, the focus turns to textiles, analyzing the genre for both its implications, possibilities and necessity of a crafts-based design practice. through harnessing textiles as a way of making and thinking, craft-based design comes to be understood as dialogical practice that questions the ideological boundaries of genre.
New Tools of the Trade: An Exploration of Interactive Computational Graphic Design Processes
Wojtek Janczak, Supervisor
This thesis investigates the context, development, and implications of Gwigglerbooth, an interactive, experiential, and real-time social media form creation tool. The main objectives in developing Gwigglerbooth were to explore interactive computational graphic design processes and to explore the role of emerging technologies, such as the Xbox Kinect® sensor and the Processing programming environment for the Android® smartphone platform, in design practice. The use of technology in design has long been a contentious issue, as a designer incorporating technology into his or her practice is often seen as surrendering a degree of control over his or her work. The context of this thesis establishes a framework for exercising control over computational graphic design, while reflection on the project asserts the relevance of computational graphic design to the overall discipline, points to the designer's role as a mediator, and urges design to embrace the integration of emerging technology into its practice.