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NM 344
History of Design

Instructor: Curt Cloninger / curt at lab404 dot com

This course traces the history of design, from its origins in bookmaking to contemporary new media. The main focus will be on the period beginning with the Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th Century and continuing through the modern and "post-modern" design movements of the 20th Century. There are no prerequisites for this class.

This course is Writing Intensive, which means writing is an essential component of the course. The ability to insightfully "read" visual communication in an appropriate historical context depends on clear, original thinking. Writing is the perfect tool to develop this kind of critical design thinking. Research, thinking, and written expression are intrinsically related. You will be introduced to a range of design writing and research forms. Some of the writing is informal, some semi-formal, and some formally academic.

Student Learning Objectives
In this course you will:
  • Understand how design, culture, and technology affect each other
  • Gain insight into the historical continuity of visual communication
  • Develop a foundation for the pursuit of design research
  • Develop a more rigorous and purposeful practice of "reading" visual communication
  • Develop a critical vocabulary with which to describe and analyze design
  • Improve your ability to dialogue in class about topics related to the assigned readings
  • Forge and delineate original conceptual connections between designers, styles, and historical movements
  • Distinguish between various tones and genres of design writing (conversational dialogue between colleagues; less formal, subjective critique in periodicals; a more rigorously researched, formally presented, academic prose)
  • Understand the purpose and the process of revision in writing projects
  • Articulate a coherent thesis or purpose in your writing and support it with evidence and argumentation appropriate to design history.

Required Materials:
Bulldog email account -- check regularly
Student web hosting space (for posting work)
Flash drive, notebook or sketchbook, graph paper, pencils, and pens

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