Design Concepts

I will be updating the exercises through the year.

Session 1
Structure Versus Elaboration

Reading (for next session): »Lord of the System 1« from: Lord of the System.

Session 2
Design As Art

Suggested reading: Bruno Munari: Design as Art

Session 3

Class exercise: Drawing of simple – clean shapes

Project: »vocabulary« of shapes (ongoing).

Over the course of the semester, collect samples of signs. You may sketch, photograph, cut items from magazines, find scraps of paper on the street, or cut out bits of packaging. Create a 510—px—square  sample of each specimen that you find. (Making a viewfinder will help you frame your samples nicely as well as cut them out without measuring.) Arrange your specimens in a simple grid (3 columns, 2 rows, gutter 15 px.) Complete 8 entries by end of semester.

Due next session: at least one diary entry; complete simple — clean shapes drawings if necessary.

Reading (for next session): »Linear typography«»Linear Typography« from Lord of the System

Session 4
Signs made from »Lego Bricks«

Project: shape prototype (Begin sketching during class; complete design due next session). Develop a concept of signs whose forms relate to an 9 x 9 square grid (not necessarily parallel to the edge of the 1050 px square). Each box in the grid must be either »on« or »off.« You have no curves or true diagonals. Represent basic geometric shapes such as square, circle, square … Draw your signs on a 1080 x 1080 px format. Consider proportion, weight, and structural features such as height of cross bars, how elements end, how to accommodate curves and diagonals within the grid of squares, etc. Give your signs a name.

Maybe the FontStruct software may be of some help.

Fonts made on workshop in 2013—2014.

Session 5

Critique: Signs made from »Lego Bricks«

Final design due next session…

Project: two compositions representing concepts from the list provided. Create a composition for each conception that expresses the meaning of the word. (See details on project sheet.) Begin work in class.

Explanation: The composition is 1050 x 1050 px square. You may vary the size, spacing, placement, and orientation of the signs. You may execute your project by tracing signs, cutting and pasting photocopied signs, using a computer, or any combination of these methods.

You may repeat, omit, slice, block, or overlap signs or shapes. Do not use drop shadows or horizontal/vertical scaling (distortion). Consider the entire space of the square.

Presentation: »Glue« your two trimmed 1050 x 1050 px compositions to a sheet of 1080 x 1080 px format.

Conceptions: compession, transition, shrinking, addition, subtraction, disturbing, repetition, skipping, migration, broadening

Session 6
Sign on the Object

Critique: Expression

Project: Choose one of your signs and make it into the identity of a business or organization (café, theater, store). Apply your identity to an object (T—shirt, mug, building, van). Represent your object within a 1050—px square.

Reading (for next session): »Lord of the System 1« from Lord of the System .

Take a look at the lecture Design as Art. Read some writing by Boris Groys.

Explanation: Adjust the design in relatioaccording to feedback in class…

Presentation: Mount your final »printouts« on a format of 1080 x 1080—px format.

Session 7
Building in an Order

Critique: Sign on the Object

Project: Composition out of a lot of signs. Within a 1050 x 1050 px square, compose the composition out of a lot of signs in a manner that expresses its meaning. Use variations in alignment, leading, line length, orientation, and spacing. Avoid variations in weight or style.

Warning: No swimming. The most common problem students encounter with this project is what I call »swimming«. This happens when you start changing the size, style, spacing, and/or orientation of the sign from group of signs to another group or line to line without having a sense of structure that holds the composition together. Avoid swimming by sketching ideas before you start working on the computer. Read the text; understand its basic meaning; break it into parts. How do those parts relate to typographic forms and structures? Don’t just jump in: think first.

Text: »I wanted a computer—generated or computer—processed drawing. But, since I did not have a computer, I began to think like a computer instead. This way of thinking does not allow visual corrections. Consequently, all relationships between elements in the drawing are exactly the way they are. They are not concealed, which is achieved subconsciously when drawing by hand. Later, when the opportunity arose, I transferred all drawings to a computer. I changed and combined some of them, but in the process I discovered that the implementation of a work of art has a special charm and that the computer deprives us of many things. But it is an excellent simulation tool. In retrospect, I tried to arrange drawings into logical units. I added text that, again, in retrospect speaks about my thoughts triggered by the drawings. But this is only a small proportion of all my thoughts. I designed linear drawings without any illusion of the third dimension. Nevertheless, every composition can be translated into sculpture.«

Reading (for next session): »Lord of the System 3« from Lord of the System

Session 8

Critique: Building in an Order

Project: Arrange the material provided on a grid. Page size is 1050 x 1050 px. Create three variations all using the same grid. Do two compositions using smaller elements only, and one composition that introduces some additional sizes of elements.

Explanation: A grid organizes elements in the format and across the formats. A grid can consist of a single column framed by margins, or it may have multiple columns. When you design a grid, you typically begin with vertical divisions (columns), and then add horizontal divisions.

Reading about the grid (don’t skip it):

The key reading: Karl Gerstner: Designing Programmes — pdf

Josef Müller—Brockmann: Grid systems in graphic design / Rastersysteme in die visuelle Gestaltung — pdf

Some predesigned grids for InDesign: The Grid System, particularly on this page.

Consider doing the homework on the 580 x 420 mm format (newspaper delo).

or, if you prefer to do the exercise on the architecture: width 54,4 m, depth 23,6 m and height of the cornice 22 m. Compose the façades af a palace. Palaces allways had even number of window axes; from three up to nine.

Present your work on 1920 x 1080 px frames.

Session 9
Series (Polyptych)

Critique: Grid

Project: Series (polyptych) All students will design and produce two series of 8—pictures. The content are previous exercises. You may create some aditional content. Next session, be prepared to discuss your idea. What is the content? How will you approach the design?

Discussion: Student series (polyptych) concepts; look through examples of interesting series (polyptych) by designers.

Due next session: Begin designing your series (polyptych). The format of your work is 1050 x 1050 px. You may choose a different shape or size if you have a reason.

Prepare a complete analogue dummy of your series (polyptych), trimmed to the edge and taped together in sequence (bellows) — like a children book. It doesn’t have to be big; anny dimension will do.


Session 10
Final Review

Critique: Series (polyptych)

I will »meet« with each student individually (exam).

Bring all projects.